When it comes to patients making healthcare choices, the marketplace has become increasingly competitive and the customer experience has become exceedingly important. Today’s patients are digitally empowered. They use apps on their phones, make purchases online, and can stream videos on demand. So, it is only logical they shop around for healthcare online and reference various sites for reviews.
In response to this continuing wave of health consumerism, we sought to map the customer journey to understand how to further this “pro-consumer” culture. We captured the full extent of interactions between consumers, healthcare brands, and employees from sign up to the end overall experience. This work identified three key customer necessities to satisfy healthcare’s new consumers.
Behavioral Change for Consumers and Providers
Through a deep-dive qualitative research approach, the healthcare industry can acquire a better understanding of consumer behaviors and customer pain points. Customer surveys can sometimes miss important issues. Using customer data gathered from interviews, or diary studies can help fill the gap. By studying the role of all touchpoints, providers can look to create an experience that is continuous, easily accessible, and overall positive.
In our work with a top 10 US health plan provider we found prospective customers are undertaking their own research online in addition to traditional marketing. Family, friends, and social media also had a significant impact on provider selection. This understanding emphasized the need for more online customer education opportunities. These opportunities could be achieved through improved customer service call center efficiency via real-time tools and access to patient specific information as well as live chat options.
Feedback, being the best source of improvement opportunities, should be captured all in one system. This would allow the provider to identify any areas that are lacking and provide the consumer ownership of their experience.
Omnichannel Service Delivery Across All Touchpoints
Noting the expectation for better access to health plan information, helps point to what type of training and experience designs enable improved sales and customer retention programs.
Beyond creating more channels for information distribution, our health plan client instituted better online choice, enrollment, and billing options. This allowed them to cater to the empowered customer behavior, seeing that the phone and email approach no longer worked.
We further discovered a significant demand for user friendly online tools to make it easier for customers to choose plans with regards to their needs and circumstances. Another important discovery, was the need for support material directed at “customer advocates” or the customer’s secondary reference groups. Information directed at supporting family materials can make all difference when choosing a plan. Of course, to make this support material relevant, it should be prepared for mobile delivery and the multiple devices consumers use.
Increased Demand for Personalized Services
Our study indicated the increasing demand for user-friendly healthcare portals. This further supported the argument in favor of better experience design. Greater personalization could be applied to all aspects of the customer journey from plan management to accessible patient clinical notes.
Customers also demand time saving options such as pre-registration forms and the ability to personalize visiting arrangements for family members. Additionally, more interactive tools and menu planning help were also sought after. The research concludes that more personalization can reduce customer effort and increase customer satisfaction.