When people talk about customer experience, often the first thing their mind will jump to is a traditional retail environment or setting. But what about the healthcare industry? It’s easy to forget that patients are also customers. They may not be shopping for anything tangible like clothes or the latest Apple watch, but this doesn’t mean that the same level of emphasis on delivering an exceptional customer experience shouldn’t still be applied.
For the most part we are very lucky when it comes to healthcare in Australia, however there is still a rising number of customers questioning the value of private health insurance. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) annual report on the private health insurance industry found that majority of customers aren’t convinced that health insurance is worth the money. One the one hand, this could be because they rarely have to use the benefits that they pay for, but on the other, this is likely because customers aren’t receiving a high level of customer care throughout the process. Who wants to pay a premium and receive a poor customer experience? I don’t see anyone putting their hands up.
So how can healthcare providers better improve their CX to help make the premium worth it?
1. Put customers at the centre of innovation:
For too long have we heard advertisements telling us what the service is about and why it’s better than the rest. Emphasis needs to be shifted from focusing on the product/service itself to focusing on solving the customer’s problems. This means investing time in looking for new ways to make this problem-solving process easier and faster for the customer. Customers are clearly sick and tired of the same old health insurance and aren’t afraid to cut off the service if they can’t see the benefit.
2. Better data usage:
Given that providers have access to a mighty amount of customer data, including information about any time a customer has a checkup or health procedure, they need to use this data for the benefit of the customer. There’s no point having the data sitting there without regular analysis for insights. Customer data needs to be tracked for trends so that the provider truly understands what health services are most important to the customer, when they need them most, and how their insurance could be altered in anticipation of future treatment or procedures that may be required based on forecasted trends. If a customer knows that their provider has their best interests at heart and is using their data to equip them with the right plan, this would reassure customers that their money isn’t just vanishing into thin air.
3. Break down the customer journey:
Data on a customer’s behaviour allows for providers to track how they use healthcare services. While this is important, there are also key gaps: what happens before and after the customer makes a claim? Numerous feedback methods need to be implemented here to fill these information gaps. Once providers have a bigger and more accurate picture of how each customer navigates the customer landscape, this opens the door to opportunities for increased personalisation and problem solving. Understanding the customer journey is critical to finding all current and potential pain points so that a proactive approach can be taken.
4. Find relevant technology:
Everyone knows technology is vital to creating a seamless customer experience, yet many providers are yet to fully experiment with it in practice. As technology evolves, so too a provider’s relationship with it. Healthcare providers need to introduce new technologies slowly before worrying about increasing momentum or scale. A great example is nib’s chatbot, nibby, who was introduced in December 2017 and has since taken on tasks like sorting calls, responding to a member’s query and connecting them quickly with a live chat consultant if needed. At present the chatbot has a 70% success rate, saving 535 hours of consulting handling time. While there is still room for improvement, this example demonstrates how technology doesn’t always have to 100% finished and perfect before introducing it to customers. It needs to be tried and tested, and the only way for this to happen is for providers to persist and make deliberate, incremental changes.
Healthcare is a big financial commitment for many customers, particularly those with families, and for this reason providers need to ensure that they are doing everything they absolutely can to show these customers that it’s worth their while. As premiums are only set to increase this year, it’s time for providers to step up to the plate and give customers a clear reason why they are worth investing in.