Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Making Your Customers, Patients, Staff, Volunteers and Suppliers Heroes

With the rapid evolution of healthcare from a provider-dominated and directed industry, to a consumer- driven industry is forcing changes in how we market and do business. Being responsive, delivering an exceptional and consistent customer experience from first contact through evaluation to use and post purchase, meeting individual expectations and needs is never easy. But as many successful healthcare companies will attest, these are no longer nice to have business requirements, but got to have requirements in order to survive.

Treating patients is at the heart of all that you do. Doesn't matter if it's a hospital, long-term care facility, medical device manufacturer, pharmaceutical manufacturer or physician. In one way or another we are seen sometimes as heroes, other times as negligent fools and most of the time as just okay along the treatment path by our consumers.

So why then don't we make our customers, who become patients, staff, volunteers and others our heroes?

In healthcare, especially the hospital segment of the total industry, everyone is undifferentiated. Same medical services, same equipment, same doctors across multiple hospitals, same insurance plans, rooms, beds, gift shop. Little brand or brand promise differentiation.

If you are engaged in a Customer Experience Management process across the whole organization, by listening, learning, changing and adapting your business model, as well as the way you are delivering healthcare services to your customers and patients, then you are making heroes.

Why not tell your audiences who your heroes are?

The patient who extols your virtues. The doctor who admits patients nowhere else. The staff member that provides exceptional care and service day-in and day-out. The volunteer delivering papers each day to patients for the past 30 years. The supplier, medical device manufacturer, and others who because of their innovation make it possible for you to be in the position of delivering what we all hope is quality care.

Let's face it, healthcare on a day-to-day basis is mundane.

Making the mundane seem exceptional is what separates the truly successful from the also-ran. You can use these examples to frame the experience of your organization. Set the expectation that what you do is extraordinary. Medical care is mundane on a day-to-day basis. But it's the customer and patient experience and how we portray that experience to our audiences that will differentiate.

This marketing approach lends itself to developing effective campaigns to be deployed over time. It allows you to personalize and strengthen your brand. It also takes you beyond the we do this, this, and this, with this, that and these medical devices by putting a face on the outcome of care.

And in the end, isn't that what we are all about?

You can continue the conversation with me on:

Michael Krivich is a senior healthcare marketing executive and internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger read daily in over 20 countries around the world. A Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives as well as a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association, he can be reached at or 815-293-147. Areas of expertise include: brand management; strategic marketing; sales and marketing integration; physician marketing; product launch; start-up launch and revenue growth; tactical market planning; customer experience management; rebuilding and revitalizing marketing operations; media relations; and service line revitalizations. Mike is Huthwaite SPIN selling trained and a Miller Heiman Strategic Selling alumni.

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