Make it Easy for Customers to Choose YOU

We are in the midst of strategic planning with a couple of our healthcare clients. It’s easy at this stage to get lost in the process details. That’s especially true for us because we are all about the process and the facilitation. Our role is help craft a process and then support the client to conclusion. We tell our clients, “We don’t this to you. We come along aside on the journey,” providing guidance and tools to make it efficient, directional and productive. The visual below outlines our six-step planning process.

strategic planning visual

As I was sitting in my office the other night working on the details of the process, I thought it was a good time to step back and reflect on a big picture question or two. I recalled a discussion during a recent planning session about the differences between a patient and a customer. Patients come to us to have things done to them. Customers make choices about what, when, where and how they get stuff. As you might imagine, it was interesting dialogue between the clinicians and the marketing director.

In today’s increasingly consumer-driven healthcare space, how do you encourage the customer to choose you? What is it that makes for loyal customers?

In healthcare, there are eight steps any effective system can take to engender customer loyalty: Make it easy for me to…

  1. Find your providers with locations that are convenient and have the same look and feel
  2. Get in the door so it’s important to work on access, both physical and virtual
  3. Find what I need once I get in the door by guiding me along the way
  4. Understand the why, what, when where and how I go about getting what I need
  5. Know what it will cost me for what I’m getting, not just one or two parts
  6. Know what I need to do to ensure a good outcome because I assume you provide only high quality care
  7. Pay for what I got, not just one or two parts of it 30 to 60 days after the fact
  8. Get and provide feedback on my experience so I know what to do next and you know how I feel about the whole thing

Maybe that’s what the strategic plan should focus on: making sure we have the talent and resources to execute flawlessly on these eight steps. It’s hard to have loyal customers if you don’t make it easy for them to be your customers. Just like culture trumps strategy any day, ease trumps loyalty.

How easy do you make it for customers to choose and do business with you? 

Mission Critical – 5 Steps to Help Your Company Get Back on its Feet

So, your company’s experiencing a crisis. All eyes are turned to you. What are you going to do about it? Good communications and crisis management can help your company get back on its feet.

Assessment and Planning: The Value of a Matrix
One of the most helpful assessment tools is a crisis matrix, which organizes potential crises according to their 1) likelihood and 2) potential damage. No one can create a crisis plan to deal with every eventuality. The matrix helps you focus on the most-likely, most-damaging scenarios, and allocate resources accordingly.

Drills and Exercises: Don’t Get Rusty
Many companies put a plan on paper, but never actually practice it. Savvy PR practitioners develop “Crisis Toolkit” templates in advance, which might include a corporate statement or news release, internal and external talking points, Q&As and phone protocols for employees.

Crisis management experts, meanwhile, guide the company in drills and mock scenarios that help clarify roles and responsibilities. We often compare this to fire drills — you want to become familiar with what to do when there is no fire, so you can respond via muscle memory if a fire occurs.

Developing the Message
Most people want three things from communications professionals during a crisis: 1) Acknowledgement of what’s happened, 2) An explanation of what’s being done to address the situation, and 3) A means to provide feedback and ask questions.

Messaging is a great example of why PR and crisis management must work together. While PR is responsible for creating the messages, counselors and crisis responders also use that messaging on the phone or on the ground.

Getting the Message Out
Your company has developed fantastic messages, but how do you get them out? And how do you handle the influx of questions that’s sure to follow?

It’s important to ask who’s going to be the best at delivering a message. Typically, PR people are in the best position to communicate with the media, industry regulators and other internal or external stakeholders, while crisis management teams are better suited to communicate directly with the employees and families involved. Crisis response counselors are trained in how to deliver bad news to families and how to deal with the reaction. That expertise takes the burden off the company.

Dealing with the Aftermath
Sometimes PR professionals make the mistake of thinking their job is done once the crisis has been communicated, but it’s a smart idea to sit down, re-evaluate how the plan worked—or didn’t—and identify the next shoe drops or communication opportunities. It’s also a good way to ensure that support for your customers and employees doesn’t disappear now that the crisis is over.

Readying for “Repeal & Replace” in Healthcare Communications

Recent moves from the Trump Administration underscore the importance and volatility of the ACA debate for healthcare leaders and consumers alike. What’s less clear are the potential scenarios for “repeal and replace,” and how and when they might become reality. To help your team stay prepared, we put together the below infographic that visually captures a few possible paths the president and Congress might take—and a few they likely won’t.

Whatever the outcome, good communications strategy will help ease the transition for patients, providers and insurers. At Bottom Line, healthcare’s our business. We helped systems navigate the widespread communications needs when the ACA first passed, including advice on:

  • Making information visual and easy to understand for healthcare consumers
  • Personalizing the impact by using avatar stories to share examples for various consumer ages and audiences
  • Proactively gathering common questions and resources to share with consumers

Now, we stand ready to help communicate whatever the next wave of changes brings.

ACA Repeal & Replace