When it comes to marketing, the most compelling content comes from your audience's own words.
Voice of the Customer, or VOC, relies on the idea that customer needs, preferences, responses, and opinions change over time. VOC marketing works to capture that customer information and translate it into actionable marketing decisions.
Fortunately, much of the philosophy surrounding traditional VOC marketing applies cleanly to the healthcare industry. Patients, like all customers, crave value. One of the best ways to deliver that value is to discover exactly what customers think—in other words, listening to the Voice of the Customer.
Here are five ways healthcare organizations can collect and harness VOC data to inform meaningful marketing decisions.
Open Up the Lines of Communication — Your Patients Want It!
For some industries, it’s tough to shake out feedback and opinions from customers. This just isn’t the case in healthcare, which may be why the American Journal of Surgery called healthcare “the purest form of a service industry.” This is a huge missed opportunity for healthcare providers that do not have a process for gathering feedback from their patients.
Part of guiding patients into a communications funnel is providing them the kind of communications opportunities they want. This takes both industry know-how and common sense. For example, some research shows that two-thirds of customers prefer to provide feedback online, but what if you run a geriatric clinic with many patients who are unlikely to take advantage of an online feedback service?
Offering appropriate avenues of feedback is critical to obtain the most accurate and thorough customer feedback data possible, whether paper-based in-clinic feedback forms, phone calls, emails, or surveys, to name just a few.
Apply Segmentation When Choosing Survey Recipients
You’re going to get the greatest response rate (and the most meaningful responses) from surveys delivered to the right patients at the right time. Part of this is good segmentation—you’re not going to be able to extend surveys to a customer segment you haven’t identified.
A good example of a system that uses segments to inform survey decisions is the federal Veterans Health Administration, which sends surveys to its recently discharged patients and extended-care patient segments. These segments will provide different information than other segments, and choosing the right one depends on your research and the specific content of the survey.
Use VOC Marketing Methods to Improve Patient Care
Healthcare systems worldwide have determined that customer feedback can improve the quality of patient care, but to achieve this admirable goal, feedback must be applied effectively. The same goes for healthcare marketing.
Remember: Actionable data requires good data.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends acquiring good patient feedback data through a variety of methods, including:
- Patient shadowing during medical visits
- Observations of patients using patient portal
- Structured feedback forms
- Unstructured “Suggestion Box”
- Carefully-planned patient surveys
These methods are far from an exhaustive list, but they’re a great tool for healthcare organizations to use when they’re getting started with VOC marketing.
Capture Both Solicited and Unsolicited Customer Feedback
When patients aren’t talking directly to you, that doesn’t mean they’re not talking. In fact, one of the most influential unsolicited customer feedback mechanisms is online reviews.
Over 75 percent of patients read online reviews before choosing a new doctor, and in some patient populations, over half of patients have written an online review of their doctor. With so many patients talking, not listening to these sources of unsolicited feedback is a big missed opportunity.
You Have the Data…Now What?
Once you’ve done your research, identified your strategies, segmented your patients, and captured your data, it’s time to put those numbers to work. Translating data into actionable marketing strategies is going to require some data analysis. Finding the appropriate software, hiring the appropriate analysts, or outsourcing to a data consultant will help you make sense of your results.
The bottom line: Effective healthcare marketing demands listening to the Voice of the Customer, and in this industry, that means your patients. VOC is all about learning to connect with customers in a meaningful way. Healthcare organizations should take a page from marketers in other industries—and take advantage of the fact that VOC marketing applies just as well to patients as it does to any consumers.
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