Healthcare is a growing sector that is taking on the digital market with new technologies. And with the evolution of digital health, earning consumer loyalty is now more important than ever.
One of the sectors that are seeing this increasing growth is aged care. Consumers of aged care – older people and their families – have a high passion for the healthcare providers and are very vocal with the rise of digital health disruptors.
Providers with lagging loyalty metrics increase their chance of losing current and potential customers. Or worse yet, have them switch to a competitor.
The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to adopt consumer engagement practices so that they can respond to market disruption and grow their customer base along with their loyalty.
Healthcare consumers have a great deal of passion, but that doesn’t always translate to loyalty.
According to Accenture’s 2014 Global Consumer Pulse Research – 18 per cent of healthcare consumers say they are passionate about the industry. This is followed by consumer electronics and hotels/lodging.
Having this passion means that they are highly concerned by the quality of the service they receive, setting high standards for providers to live up to, which in turn makes the market for these services highly competitive.
It takes a lot of work to gain these consumers trust and loyalty, but only one mis-step to lose them.
What “digital health” includes is services such as electronic health records, consumer portals and online appointment scheduling – increasing health data sharing, healthcare price transparency and information access.
With such high standards set for services and information, when a consumer’s expectations are not met, their willingness to switch to get what they want increases.
Some industries make it challenging for people to switch services, an example of this is seen with some aged care services who have high “exit fees”.
However many healthcare consumers stay with their providers because they think it would be hard to leave, not because they are loyal.
What Accenture’s 2014 Global Consumer Pulse Research found was that 40 per cent of healthcare consumers say that switching is a hassle – second only to switching gas and electric utility companies.
The growth of digital health means that they will see switching services as less of a task and be more open to moving. People who are not satisfied with the aged care provider will simply find a new one.
What aged care providers need to do is to prepare now to combat this disruption and start implementing cross-industry loyalty strategies to earn their patients’ loyalty.
Give your consumers the experience that they want. This may mean easing appointment access through online scheduling, appointment delivery via in-person or virtual visits and personalised follow up. Make the process easier for them and they will be less likely to leave.
Listen to your customers. If they give you feedback about things they would like to see improved, show them that you have heard their request and take action to move forward with the feedback.
Make it easy to post reviews and ratings to reach others through digital channels and social media. And never shut down or ignores any feedback you receive.
You want to make it easy for consumers to choose you. And the best way to do this is, firstly, offering a great service, and secondly, creating channels for people to endorse, refer and recommend.
Enlist others to advocate, share and post about you aged care service – older people, their friends and families, referring providers, staff and allied professionals.
It’s important to earn your customer’s loyalty with new methods through transformed experiences, not by trapping consumers.
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