3 Ways to Boost Patient Experience and Referrals
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Brands and organizations that place customers or patients at their center don’t just grow, they thrive. The right patient experience drives growth and can support differentiation. A research study from Accenture found that U.S. hospitals that provide superior patient experience generate 50% higher financial performance than average providers.
Whether you’re running a hospital system, an insurance company or a medical practice, taking a patient-centric outlook could improve patient satisfaction and with it, loyalty, which translates into revenue.
Here are three tips to improve your customer or patient experience and corresponding satisfaction and retention levels.
1. Crystallize Your Organization’s Promise or Purpose
Organizations that want to improve retention must look at closing any gaps in their current experience. This entails first recognizing the importance of the customer/patient experience and then prioritizing and executing effective strategies from the inside out. A critical initial step is crystallizing your organization’s purpose and its promise to its customers. This is foundational and defines the experience. From here, it’s important to articulate a corresponding employee value proposition to attract and retain the best and most engaged people — aligned with your promise or purpose. They are your best asset for delivering on the experience.
2. Evaluate Your Customer/Patient Journey
Understanding the patient or customer journey identifies opportunities for improvement that will contribute to a better overall experience and establish a relationship that is built to last.
It’s the little things that really matter, and it starts with first impressions. Your communications online (e.g., website, social media and reviews) and your employees create and fulfill these moments before someone steps foot into your facility, hospital or practice. This is why it is so important to make the investment in training staff on how they contribute to delivering a positive customer or patient experience — whether it’s online, over the phone or in your office. Many best practices can be adopted from how leading retail and hospitality brands treat their customers.
How can the pre-appointment experience be improved? When did you last try to make an appointment at your practice or reach customer service at your company? How long did it take you? Was it quick and simple or confusing and time-consuming? Can you leverage technology to automate appointment confirmations to limit the number of no-shows and late arrivals?
What is the experience upon arrival at the office? Are staff attentive? Do they acknowledge each patient’s arrival with eye contact and a smile? Does the customer or patient know what to expect and how long they will be waiting? If not, can staff communicate expectations upon their arrival, whether it is about where to wait or what to expect during their appointment?
What is the follow-up experience? Are patients wondering about test results or are they quickly, securely and clearly communicated? If a patient portal is offered, what is the user experience? Is it easy to log in and find information such as test results?
3. Ask Where You Can Improve
Do you know the satisfaction levels of your staff, patients and members? How likely are patients or members to recommend your organization or health system? If you don’t know, you have a wonderful opportunity to show them you care about their opinions and ask them what matters to them. If you choose to ask only one question, ask your customers or patients whether or not they would recommend your practice or hospital system with a follow-up on why they answered the way they did. If there is concern about employee satisfaction, pose the question to them, too.
From appointment setting to the waiting room and follow-up calls or test results, you can likely augment the customer or patient journey to add a personal and caring touch that underscores your brand’s purpose and promise. Taking a closer look at your patient or customer journey to identify how to improve the overall experience reaps rewards. You need only look to brands like Zappos, Amazon, USAA or Apple to see how they have leveraged experience to differentiate and accelerate their business growth. These brands set the gold standard with consumers’ experiences, and patients are consumers, too.
Are you ready to cultivate a more positive customer or patient experience? Learn more by downloading our free eBook.
About the Author | Carolyn Kopf
Carolyn Kopf is the founder and managing partner of C.E.K. & Partners, an Atlanta-based branding firm. She's a regular contributor to the AMA Healthcare Newsletter. Her company focused on designing market research studies, brand strategy, content, design and all the channels needed to deliver it - social media, digital marketing and offline communications. Carolyn can be contacted at 404.345.6447 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org