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Many healthcare companies lag on the urgent need for customer experience management in their organizations. Studies shows that just 49% of consumers say that their healthcare customer experience is satisfactory. Your patients are customers, and they need to be treated that way. 

In the digital arena, in particular, discontent is high with the majority of customers report they can’t accomplish simple goals online, such as searching for a doctor, accessing health records, or paying bills. Plus, 4 in 10 claim the options available online are not relevant to them and are unhappy with how long tasks take to complete. 

Consumer expectations for healthcare are the same as those for retail or hospitality — convenience, responsive service, and user-friendly communication — but a huge chasm exists between those expectations and what the industry delivers. 

Why are healthcare providers late to hear the customer experience alarm that has roused countless other industries to prioritize their audiences? 

There is a trap of perceiving healthcare customers as patients. Perhaps the failure to respond to market needs is because care providers have traditionally not viewed their clientele as customers. Rather, they cast them as “patients,” a term that implies a captive audience consisting of passive recipients of care. 

People in an emergency health crisis have little choice. However, many “patients” do not fall into the do-or-die category. These patients are actually “customers” who actively research and weigh their options to make informed decisions. They want to shop for doctors and hospitals the same way they would shop for any item ranging from a book on Amazon to a Delta Airlines ticket. 

Joining the Customer Experience revolution 

To deliver an experience that delights customers, healthcare providers cannot just aspire to be on par with their direct competitors. Instead, they must look to industries that go above and beyond consumer expectations, continually raising the bar. 

The following are examples of how you can start your path to customer experience management in healthcare. 

Map the customer journey 

Because customers are not just evaluating the doctor’s bedside manner and skills, map every touchpoint in the customer journey. Do so by talking to staff in the departments that control different parts of the journey. 

The customer journey starts long before the patient signs in at hospital admissions or enters the physician’s waiting room. For many patients, it begins at the start of their symptoms as they weigh care options. Vendors with accurate, relevant, and compelling online information are most likely to attract new customers. 

More than half of patients use a personal computer or laptop to find a provider, and 40% use a tablet or mobile device, according to the Customer Experience Trends in Healthcare 2018 report. After making a selection, consumers expect a seamless transition to the next phase of their journey. They want to schedule their doctor’s visit through the provider’s website, mobile app, or by email. 

Take action to improve the patient experience one step at a time. 

Focus on the areas where you can have the most significant impact quickly. Perhaps you delight customers with quick test turnarounds, easy access to results, and by providing simple ways to pay bills and fill prescriptions. 

The healthcare industry is ripe for a revolution in customer experience management. You don’t have to leap forward into uncharted territory in medical technology. Instead, map the customer journey, do your research, and implement changes one step at a time. 

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