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Healthcare Customer Experience Management Complete Guide

Blog by Ian Luck
November 14, 2022

The healthcare sector has been hard hit by the pandemic, having borne the brunt of both the physical health and economic impacts of Covid-19. One necessary part of the industry’s response has been an improvement in healthcare customer experience management (CXM). Though latecomers in prioritizing customer experience (CX), healthcare providers have realized they need to identify and adapt to their customers’ needs if they’re to stay relevant in this complex environment.

The Harvard Business Review reports that the healthcare sector has more information on its customers than almost any other sector. And yet there is a substantial disconnect between the availability of this data and how healthcare providers use it to inform their CX.

According to a recent Harris Poll survey, 62% of customers say that healthcare services feel like they’re designed to be confusing, and 66% feel resentful about having to manage so many tasks related to their healthcare needs themselves. The system, in other words, is largely failing to provide the services customers expect of it.

This has prompted a massive interest in CXM among healthcare providers. Indeed, the Harvard study states that some 57% of providers are setting out to proactively improve their CX, placing it above the need to lower costs and increase revenues. Of course, ultimately, CXM, cost savings and revenues are all inextricably linked, as we’ll show you below.

Let’s take a look at what CXM means in healthcare, and how best to go about implementing a CXM solution that works.

What is customer experience management in healthcare?

In healthcare, customer experience management involves understanding and anticipating the needs of your customers, and developing high-functioning, efficient and cost-effective solutions that meet these needs.

The healthcare industry is typically very siloed, with its many different divisions—from onboarding, administration, accounts and insurance, to primary, preventative, rehabilitative, diagnostic, emergency, hospital, long-term, palliative and home care—largely operating independently.

For customers engaging with one or more of these services, the experience has historically been fragmented and frustrating. But healthcare providers are coming to acknowledge the importance of putting CX first, and this, combined with advances in technology and the demands of the pandemic, are precipitating sector-wide shifts in terms of CXM.

The importance of CEM in healthcare

Healthcare providers that prioritize CEM are paying close attention to their Net Promoter Score (NPS). This widely-used metric sits at the center of most CX strategies, and helps to measure customer loyalty and satisfaction by determining how likely customers are to recommend your organization to friends or family members.

​​By analyzing all the factors that contribute to your NPS, you can:

  • Pinpoint problem areas for improvement

  • Identify gaps in the healthcare market for new products and services

  • Reach out to supporters for reviews and referrals

  • Prevent customers switching to an alternative healthcare provider

  • Ensure partners and channel partners are engaged

In our latest NPS Benchmarks Report, we discovered that the average NPS score for the healthcare industry is +58. In fact, this was the highest score, beating financial services by +14 points and SaaS NPS scores by +22 in 2021.

But this isn’t cause for complacency. Your NPS needs to be proactively managed if it is to keep its position for the long haul.

If you feel like improving your NPS during a pandemic is an impossible task, listen to this podcast about how Intuitive Health did exactly that.

Benefits of implementing customer experience management in healthcare

For many people, engaging with healthcare providers is a source of anxiety and stress. Is the provider they’re engaging with reputable? Can they trust the advice they are likely to receive? Will they need to pay more for a second opinion? How cumbersome is the process between a primary consult and a specialist or hospital referral?

If you’re aware of every step on your customers’ journey, and are preemptively identifying and removing obstacles in their path, you’re likely to retrain them over the long term. This can make a meaningful difference to your bottom line. Studies suggest a 5% increase in customer retention can result in a 25% increase in profit. Happy customers tend to cost less to serve, spend more (up to 140% more) and stay for longer.

How can I improve my customer experience in healthcare?

CustomerGauge research conducted since the start of the pandemic has drawn attention to how Covid accelerated the digitisation of healthcare, and changed the way consumers take ownership of their health.

Trends that were slowly taking root, such as virtual appointments, quickly became critical. ​​According to Deloitte Insights, approximately 80% of customers meet virtually with healthcare providers now – a trend that is likely to continue as we work towards a post-pandemic future.

Is your healthcare organization meeting these needs? And are you aware of other priority areas in the industry, including:

  • The continued presence of Covid-19

  • Mental health and emotional well-being

  • Clinician burnout

  • The development of innovative technology solutions to ensure healthcare equity

  • The emerging trend towards precision health and patient customisation

  • The value of data from wearables like smartwatches and fitness trackers

  • The need for greater care-at-home options

  • The development of digital healthcare models and AI healthcare tech

  • Effective data management processes

Looking to the future, healthcare providers should expect to adopt valuable new technologies and continue to find ways to meet and exceed patient expectations.

To set yourself apart from the competition, you need to create more personalized patient experiences by collecting and acting on feedback secured through platforms like CustomerGauge’s Account Experience Platform.

What is Account Experience and how can it help?

Account Experience methodology (download the book for free here) takes your CX metric and calculates a precise figure of revenue for every NPS point—monetizing your Net Promoter System.

This gives you a real, dollars-and-cents value for your CX metrics, helping you to understand how much your pitfalls are costing you, how much your successes are profiting, and why a CXM strategy is so important.

Account Experience ensures your CX program is action based, not just research based. It takes you from a place of understanding customer feedback and painpoints, to a place where you can use customer feedback to accelerate growth—be it through tackling retention or by activating your customer referral engine.

Having a real, dollars-and-cents value attached to your CX drivers and NPS scores helps you to understand how much your pitfalls are costing you, how much your successes are profiting, and why a CXM strategy is so important.

Our research has shown that healthcare providers that use CustomerGauge’s Account Experience System enjoy an average score 15 points higher than their industry peers.

HealthCare NPS benchmarks

In an industry that lost $323 billion in 2020, according to research conducted by the American Hospital Association, and has not seen substantial recovery since, the financial impact of these points matters.

Our Account Experience methodology follows three simple steps:

Step 1: Measure

Measuring your NPS is the first critical step, and will form the foundation of your strategy. It involves two types of surveys: relationship surveys and transactional surveys.

  • Relationship surveys assess how your customer is feeling about your business, product or service every quarter. While this may sound too frequent, our research has shown that companies that conduct quarterly relationship surveys see a 5.2% increase in retention.

  • Transactional surveys refer to a specific transaction or engagement. These are short questionnaires directly tied to different touchpoints in the customer journey.

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Top Tip

1) Collect feedback from multiple stakeholders in your customer’s organization. The C-suite and frontline users often have very different opinions and needs, but all of them have to be happy to prevent the risk of churn. 2) Experiment with survey channels. In one case study, ICON was able to get a 100% response rate on their NPS survey—a clear indicator of engaged, trusting customers.

Step 2: Act

Accessing the data is just the first step. Now, you need to act on it. Addressing your customers’ concerns takes place in two different ways: closing the loop and optimization.

  • Closing the loop involves addressing your customers’ needs directly. This is rarely a one-size-fits-all approach in healthcare, and it’s best to be prepared to cater to unique concerns with a unique solution. If you can, close the loop with detractors 48 hours for the best results for customer retention. You should also close the loop with your NPS promoters to take advantage of referral and upsell opportunities—but you can take a little longer to follow up with this segment.

  • If you can, close the loop within two weeks. A couple of days is even better.

  • Optimization refers to the process of setting targets for your NPS growth. Our research has shown that companies that set these kinds of targets grow twice as fast as those that don’t.

Step 3: Monetize and Grow

Now, it’s time to see the impact of your work. Identify how NPS growth affects your bottom line and put steps in place to boost it by monetizing it, identifying your at-risk and safe customers, and making targeted optimizations.

Start by aggregating your detractors, passives, and promoters to understand how improving a specific touchpoint can increase your revenue. You should be able to attribute a specific portion of revenue to any increase in your NPS score. Start by aggregating your detractors, passives, and promoters to understand how an increase in NPS can increase your revenue. You should be able to attribute a specific portion of revenue to any increase in your NPS score.

CXM Software

Then, consider which customers are mostly likely to churn. Reach out to them and discuss their concerns—. because you’ve linked your NPS program to revenue, you can prioritize high value customer accounts first. Simply showing you’ve listened makes customers engaged and less likely to churn, often detractors become promoters when they see you’re taking action on their feedback—strong emotional involvement (good or bad) shows a motivated customer.

This simple act may encourage them to stay. If you keep optimizing, you’ll be able to drive retention and referrals.

Three advanced strategies for healthcare to improve CX

Right, so you know why CXM strategy is important and how to go about implementing a framework (Measure, Act, Monetize and Grow). Let’s take a look at three important things to keep in mind for your CXM strategy in healthcare:

  1. Place top leadership in the CXM driving seat: If your CXM is going to be effective, it needs to be an executive priority. Take the time to demonstrate CX’s impact on your revenue. The effective rollout of your CXM depends on their buy-in.

  2. Invest in technology that supports, rather than silos, your CXM strategy:Always be conscious of healthcare’s predisposition towards siloed experiences. As you roll out your CXM, make sure you are working towards gathering an integrated, holistic picture. Use technology to help you do this.

  3. Establish yourself as a partner:Vendors are replaceable. But partners integrate and provide invaluable support over the long-term. Get to know your customers deeply, solve their issues, and you’ll likely find they stick with you for the long haul.

Our Advanced B2B CX Strategies ebook is here to help – and so are we. Contact CustomerGauge today to find out how we can make customer experience management a powerful part of how your healthcare organization does business.

About the Author

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Ian Luck
Ian has been in the CX market for over a decade evangelizing best-practices and strategies for increasing the ROI of customer programs. He loves a loud guitar, a thick non-fiction book, and a beach day with his family. You can catch him around the north shore of Boston, MA.
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