Customer Service and Healthcare

August 18, 2017 Jeanette Stern

What is Customer Experience?    

What does the customer want?, How do you determine the best method of producing what they want in the most cost-effective way possible? These are the fundamental steps that any organization needs to ask themselves if they wish to prosper. You can offer top quality products and services, but if you can’t deliver quality customer service, you’ll never build a strong clientele.

Customer experience has never been more prevalent to success than it is in 2017. Our rapidly evolving technological progresses have placed an extraordinary amount of rule-making power in the hands of the consumer. We have grown impatient since, in a matter of minutes, people can order food, clothing, taxis, and a place to sleep all from convenient, easy-to-use apps on their smartphone. Online review sites have created transparency in the service industries, denying them the ability to suppress negative information and also giving anonymous recommendations the same weight as a family member or friend’s personal endorsement. Many companies have also taken strong charitable stances, becoming just as much humanitarian relief organizations as they are an enterprise, which makes customers feel a sense of pride by choosing to do business with them. That’s because it just isn’t enough anymore to give people what they want with a smile, they want to do business with a company that demonstrates awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy, as well as proper, timely service.


Why focus on Customer Experience?

Reshaping a healthcare organization to deliver a member centric culture may take years of due diligence and high engagement from both the management and the employees. Shaping a company around customer service, despite the effort and sacrifice it requires, has proven to be absolutely worth it in the end. Organizations that successfully improve customer experience see a 5-10% increase in revenue and a 15-25% reduction in expenses within 2-3 years.


How does an organization begin the process of reassessing their practices in the mindset of improving customer experience? They do so by looking at their whole operation from start-to-finish in the eyes of the customer. Almost always, customer experience is surveyed by a business by rating individual encounters with their members and patients. Take a different industry for example, a brand new customer of a health plan requires multiple phone calls and emails with customer service representatives, an in-home technician visit, and a lot of time spent performing web searches. Say that each of these interactions goes well and the member rates each positively, it is still entirely possible that the process as a whole was a negative experience. Each of those interactions was for customer clarification; even if every single question is answered, it does not fix the underlying fact that they were confused in the first place. Customer experience hinges almost entirely on how painless their time spent procuring your product is.


What are the Customer Experience issues in Healthcare?

So what are the average customer’s complaints about the healthcare system? Many health insurance members find their plan’s search function to be difficult to use, they find it difficult to schedule appointments, and they find the results to be varying and sometimes inconclusive.


To get a better idea of what’s going on, take that previous example and apply it to the healthcare industry. When someone needs to see a doctor, they have to jump through several hoops before even arriving at the waiting room. They may spend time researching the doctors available to them by their insurance, paying attention to location and reputation. They need to schedule an appointment, which may take more than one call, time spent on hold, and being jostled around between receptionists. When they finally have a chance to schedule that, they may find that it won’t take place until weeks after. They may find their appointments to not fulfill what they needed due to the practitioner,whether it’s because the practitioner was inexperienced, not who they did not scheduled for, or having bad bedside manners. When they finally receive the results from their appointment, what could be weeks later, the diagnosis could be incorrect. In reality, every single one of these interactions might have gone fine individually, but are completely exhausting when compiled. This has led many Americans to get fed up with the healthcare system.


How do we fix Healthcare Customer Experience issues?

To create a better customer service experience in healthcare, the process needs to be streamlined to be much more efficient and convenient. This is done by using technology to modernize a healthcare system that hasn’t seen much change in decades. One simple way of benefiting the healthcare system through technology is by implementing telehealth programs that make use of video-calling functions on a smartphone or computer. Scheduling could be done entirely online or through an application, which eliminates long periods of time spent traveling or on hold. Appointments could be held from anywhere on Earth with an internet connection, a potentially huge relief for elderly patients who have a hard time leaving the house or for patients experiencing transportation issues. Providers could also make use of IBM’s Watson Health, which absorbs millions of books and research on health and medicine, which then delivers the best possible diagnosis for you. It’s impossible for any doctor to know every single method or piece of research discovered, so Watson does that for them. This would place more of the patient’s trust in the doctor and make them leave the appointment feeling more satisfied.

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