Customer experience the determinant of survival amidst health services reform

“Customer experience is the new black, the meme, the consult buzzword”, one of my customers recently told me. As trivial as it may seem (because, of course you listen to the customer), customer service is a crucial factor in the formula for success – and this is supported by studies.

Johanna Markkanen

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Forrester found that the value of the stocks of companies who were perceived to give good customer experiences grew 29% more than compared to the stocks of companies that people thought to give bad customer experiences.

Furthermore, PwC published a study stating that out of all industries where the purchase decision is especially affected by the quality of customer experience, health care claims the top position on the list with effect rate of 78 percent. While the study was conducted in the US where health services are produced and purchased with a different mindset than in Finland, the results of the study are not to be ignored as the Finnish social and health services reform is about to take place. With increased freedom of choice regarding social and health services, the importance of customer experience as a determinant is bound to increase – a lot.

Competitive edge is found in the gap between the experience a customer wishes for and what he gets

In the PwC study, 73 percent name good customer experience as a highly important factor affecting their purchasing decision. However, only 49 percent say that they regularly receive their wished-for level of experience in real life.

This gap between what the customer is hoping to get and what they actually receive in terms of customer experience creates competitive edge to those who can close the gap. New technologies, AI and digitalisation have potential to improve and complement human interaction, but only if the customer service workers have the know-how to utilise them.

When making a purchase decision, price and quality are, of course, the two most important determinants. However, a good customer experience might just be what tips the scale to one side or another, depending on the effectiveness, easiness, friendliness and professionalism of the customer service – also and especially when it comes to health care.

“A good customer experience means that the customer feels appreciated as he has been seen and heard.”

Soft feelings turn into hard cash and measurable results when the customer becomes loyal to the service and returns back to it time after time.

Employee experience produces customer experience

Developing customer experience is no rocket science. Its core is another current buzzword: employee experience. Prime employee experience is a prerequisite for customer experience of same quality. The right corporate culture and new working methods aim at improved employee experience, which is the only sustainable foundation for creating great customer experience.

If there are any variables missing from this formula, if the employee is lacking interest, motivation, skills or tools to provide customer service, even the hottest new innovation cannot fix the issue. If a nurse or staff at the laboratory are tired, stressed, and have no energy to care about providing good customer experience – and boy, it shows­ – it doesn’t matter how cool and handy the new registration machine in the reception is. The customer is disappointed by her experience, and the competitors’ services come to be of interest.

Service design to help during the change

Customer experience is also planned, edited and improved through service design. Service design aims to clarify what the customer expects from the service, and the customer service staff is briefed about this. The process aims to improve the central position of the customer throughout the company culture.

It makes me happy to notice that here in Finland, too, the service design tools are becoming standard practices for the pioneers of social and health services providers. Still, I strongly recommend all service providers, regardless of industry, consider these tools to improve their services.

Need a hand in developing the best customer or employee experience? Or maybe some hints on how to maximise the potential of your service design? Don’t hesitate to let us know, we’re happy to help!

 

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