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? 

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

Client Spotlight: ThedaCare

Every once in a while we like to give a shout out to one of our clients and showcase our good work together. This month, we’re featuring ThedaCare, a longtime client who’s partnered with us on everything from strategic communications to competitive intelligence to government relations to publications – and more. Here’s a peek into the scope of our work, and depth of our connections at this seven hospital, 35 clinic health system.

HUB

Strategic Communications

When change is afoot, as it often is in the world of health care, ThedaCare has relied on our strategic consultation, careful planning and expert writing skills to help develop communication plans, draft messages and roll out tactics from relationship marketing meetings, internal- and external-facing materials, events, media coordination and more. Using simple and clear language in our messages and creative visuals, we’ve crafted campaigns that share quality care data, the complexities of the Affordable Care Act, opportunities for new physicians, insights for government officials and significant organizational change.

Competitive Intelligence

In the world of health care, understanding your competition is essential. Sometimes that understanding yields a business partnership opportunity, and sometimes, it prompts a competitive business strategy. As part of the ThedaCare annual strategic planning process, we’ve compiled profiles of all kinds of organizations to help ThedaCare understand market changes and their implications in the 14 counties the organization serves – and beyond. Our research has included everything from national chain pharmacies and drug stores that are moving into care delivery to workplace wellness expansion to other healthcare systems and providers.

Government Relations

As part of the ThedaCare GR team, we support identification and strategic response around various government policies and regulations that present opportunities or risk to any and every part of the organization. We focus on state-level matters, and collaborate with our federal-level team members to develop strategies that influence policymakers on behalf of ThedaCare.

Publications

TC Magazine Portfolio Image

With years of experience in managing the ThedaCare employee newsletter and the ThedaCare community magazine, we’ve not only told the ThedaCare story in many vibrant ways, we’ve also learned the organization from the inside out. Relationships delight us and define how we work, so it’s no surprise we appreciate every person we interview, everyone who submits content and every soul who shares the heartfelt significance of participating in the ThedaCare mission of improving the health of the communities the organization serves.

Our Sweet Spot

We excel at behind-the-scenes consultation, research and marketing communications support that reaches the more than 240,000 patients ThedaCare serves annually, the organization’s many partners, public officials, stakeholders and community members.

As ThedaCare continues to lead in implementing the health care of the future, we’re excited to walk alongside their team of passionate experts. Strategically supporting this special client, and helping execute around key initiatives and projects is a centerpiece of our work in health care. That kind of support isn’t limited to ThedaCare, though. It’s simply one great example of how we do business, all day, every day.

Strategies vs. Tactics: The Map and the Backpack

Companies often come to us saying things like:

  • We need a great-looking brochure.
  • Can you create a Facebook page for us? Everyone has one, and we need one too.
  • We want to be featured in the New York Times.

The challenge with each of these requests is that the company is already thinking at a tactical level. We encourage them to zoom out to first examine their overall strategy.

What is it they hope to accomplish? Is the fancy new brochure actually part of a larger effort to reach referral sources? Is a Facebook presence something they can strategically maintain for the long-run? How do they plan to leverage an article in the New York Times?

Each of these actions should be tied to a set of strategies and goals.

It’s sometimes difficult for companies to think at the strategic level, because tactics are easier to understand. They’re tangible, the actual real deliverables that people can see, touch and feel. But they won’t have an impact if they’re not anchored in strategy.

We like to describe it this way: Imagine your company is on a journey. One toward growth, profits and success. There are two things you need for that trek:

  • A map – your strategy, which tells you where you’re going
  • A backpack of gear – the tactics and tools that will help you safely reach your destination

Without knowing the map first, it’s pretty hard to pack the right gear. What if you had ice climbing poles and cold weather clothes, only to find out you’re heading for the tropics? Or, you pack water for a week, and then realize the journey will actually last a month?

The key is to make your map and your gear work together. That’s the synergy of strategy and tactics!

Client Spotlight: Plunkett Raysich Architects

Every once in a while we like to give a shout out to one of our clients and showcase our good work together. This month, we’re putting our strategic planning project with Plunkett Raysich Architects (PRA) in the spotlight

The process

In summer of 2015, Bottom Line facilitated a day-long strategic planning session with the architectural firm’s partners to refresh their focus to be business-savvy. We worked with the PRA partners to identify performance expectations for themselves and for each other before the session, so during the session, they were free to have open, effective discussion. Our hope was the more time the partners had to discuss expectations, the more consensus would be gained around areas of improvement regarding business skills and firm growth.

The results

During the strategic planning session, the PRA partners:

  • Created a greater sense of cohesion in the partnership and opened their eyes to how important it is to meet client expectations and make a profit
  • Identified goals and metrics to better gauge success

A year after the strategic planning session:

  • The partners report they are more transparent and hold themselves and each other accountable for their overall performance
  • The firm has reduced time billed versus time budgeted by 40 percent in just one year
  • The partners have grown their leadership skills through monthly learning sessions
  • The firm has received multiple awards in 2016 for work performance and culture
  • The firm was selected for the 2016 PSMJ Circle of Excellence, which is awarded to the top 20 percent of all architect/engineer/contractor firms across the country

To learn more, check out the full PRA-Strategic Planning case study!

pra-logo

Interested in improving your strategic planning process? Let’s talk

Measure the Gap

Gap Analysis

The gaps between perception and reality are directly proportional to the strength of your brand and depth of customer engagement. The question is: how do you measure those gaps and develop effective strategies to close them?

Start the process with an honest probe of the internal perceptions about your company. Uncover how you think your company is perceived by key audiences, and tease out what you think makes your company distinct from competitors. Include key leaders, board members and employees. This process identifies differences among internal perceptions and possible gaps between your perception of the company and that of key audiences.

Test Perceptions Against Reality

Next, compare your internal perceptions with those in the marketplace. Survey customers, prospects, suppliers and other key audiences to understand what’s important to them about your industry and specifically your company.

With the results from these two exercises, you can determine whether key target audiences see your company the same way you do. You can begin to answer some important questions:

  • Does what we say match what we do?
  • Is what we do different than what we’re perceived as doing?
  • Is there a difference between how our company is perceived in the marketplace versus how we’d like to be perceived?

The graphic below depicts the Gap Analysis process we use here at Bottom Line.

measure the gap

Close the Gap

As you can see, if there’s a gap between what you say you are and what you actually do, it could be an operational issue. You need to change what you say to match reality, or change how you perform so it matches your intentions.

If there’s a gap between what you do and how you are perceived, it’s likely a perception issue. You need to communicate more clearly about who you are and what you offer in the marketplace.

If there’s a gap between how you are perceived and how you’d like to be perceived, it’s likely an expectations issue. You need to manage expectations and clearly articulate who you are and what your company does that offers value in the marketplace.

One of the great benefits of this process is that you know where to work, where to devote resources and where to measure progress. Now, let’s go close those gaps, strengthen your brand and drive greater engagement internally and externally.

Strategies vs. Tactics: The Map and the Backpack

Companies often come to us saying things like:

  • We need a great-looking brochure.
  • Can you create a Facebook page for us? Everyone has one, and we need one too.
  • We want to be featured in the New York Times.

The challenge with each of these requests is that the company is already thinking at a tactical level. We encourage them to zoom out to first examine their overall strategy.

What is it they hope to accomplish? Is the fancy new brochure actually part of a larger effort to reach referral sources? Is a Facebook presence something they can strategically maintain for the long-run? How do they plan to leverage an article in the New York Times?

Each of these actions should be tied to a set of strategies and goals.

It’s sometimes difficult for companies to think at the strategic level, because tactics are easier to understand. They’re tangible, the actual real deliverables that people can see, touch and feel. But they won’t have an impact if they’re not anchored in strategy.

We like to describe it this way: Imagine your company is on a journey. One toward growth, profits and success. There are two things you need for that trek:

  • A map – your strategy, which tells you where you’re going
  • A backpack of gear – the tactics and tools that will help you safely reach your destination

Without knowing the map first, it’s pretty hard to pack the right gear. What if you had ice climbing poles and cold weather clothes, only to find out you’re heading for the tropics? Or, you pack water for a week, and then realize the journey will actually last a month?

The key is to make your map and your gear work together. That’s the synergy of strategy and tactics!