How to move the healthcare customer higher in the value chain?

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The future of healthcare is based on consumer trust with the healthcare companies. In order to gain this trust, healthcare companies need to move the customer through the five stages of the customer value chain. The value chain stages are communicate, interact, engage, collaborate, and innovate. Somewhere between the interact and collaborate stages is the trust inflection point. When this trust level is reached, the customer starts to create value for your company.In this article, we cover how healthcare companies can move the customer through the various value chain stages.


Moving the Customer through the Stages of the Value Chain:

Healthcare companies struggle with customer adoption of their digital tools. Digital Strategy Yoga™ research suggests that companies struggling with customer adoption of their digital tools have not moved the customer through the value chain, past the “Trust Inflection Point”, TIP©. After the customer has reached this TIP©, companies start to see a positive return on investments in such digital interactions.
Healthcare is an extremely personal product dealing with one’s health. However, it is also a psychological product that can provide either mental peace or mental anguish.


Five Stages of the Customer Value Chain

Stage 1: Communicate

During the beginning stages of the customer relationship, healthcare companies need to ensure
that they communicate with their customers on a regular basis. During the sales interactions, it is important for the sales teams to be upfront about their products and benefits. While it is important to explain what benefits are covered by the plan, it is also extremely important to explain the benefits that are not covered. After the sales team has done its job, it is important for healthcare companies to have a post-sales team focusing on onboarding the customer. The concept of onboarding, also known as the initiation of the customer, into the health plan is spreading across healthcare companies. The post sales teams need to demonstrate the digital tools and services that adds value to the customer. The value to the customer may be in terms of access to information, quality interactions, proactive notifications, and other incentives that may be available to them. Interactions at the communicate stage set the foundation of a long-term value creation process.

Stage 2: Interact

Once customers have registered for the healthcare company’s digital services, it is important to monitor and service them in order to understand their usage patterns of various services. For example, a customer may use the online channel more during day and call customer service during the evenings. Interacting with the customer during evening to understand the reason for their call versus using online services may provide insight into customer issues. Another example of an interaction with the customer can be when the customer chooses a primary care physician (PCP). Instead of just providing the information on the doctor that the customer asked for, it is recommended that the interaction during this stage captures relevant customer preferences. Preferences such as language, proximity to their home, and appointment time may provide insight to engage the customer during the subsequent phases of the value chain. Some of the interactions that involve medical reasons can also give insight into psychological state of the customer. The type of interaction is dependent on the nature of the communication with the customer. Healthcare companies need to value every interaction with their customers as an integral part of the customer value chain strategy. By moving the customer through the value chain stages, companies will benefit in the long-run, though they might incur some level of costs in the short-term.

Stage 3: Engage

Engagement is the most crucial stage, as it moves the customer to the “Trust Inflection Point©” (TIP). The first two stages have laid a good foundation for meaningful engagement with the customer. During the third stage, it is important for both the customer service teams and the digital solutions to recognize customers, their personal preferences, and their previous interactions. Asking a previously answered question is only going to slide the customer to an earlier stage. Rephrasing the question to validate the customer preferences may be another way to engage the customer. Some examples of engagement include personalized messages, appointment notifications, and doctor changes due to issues with earlier selection. Advanced engagement options include scheduling medical appointments, nutrition tips, chronic condition support, and more. At some point in the engagement stage, the customer passes the Trust Inflection Point©. This is critical to the growing value of the relationship. The nature of the engagement changes at the trust inflection point. The customer requests for recommendations from the healthcare customer representative rather than dictate their choices. Once the customer is past the Trust Inflection Point©, loyalty and reward programs start to bear positive results. Many healthcare companies try to engage the customer without going through the first two stages of the value chain. As a result, customers do not trust the company and move down the value chain.

Stage 4: Collaborate

When decisions affecting customer health choices are made in discussion with customer service representatives, the company has reached the collaboration stage with the customer. At this stage, it is important to maintain high service levels. Predictive intelligence is required to ensure that customer touch points add value to the relationship. Customers in this stage also want to ensure that their families stay healthy. Provide nutrition tips, family management tips to keep up the collaboration. Prior preparation is required and post-collaboration follow up is deemed critical to move the customer to the next level.

Stage 5: Innovate

Innovation is reached when customer recommends new ideas to the company. The customer’s new ideas are shared both in writing and in conversations. Companies need to prepare their service teams to be ready for such customers by providing new tools and techniques. New products and services can be piloted with such customers for feedback. Reviews from customers at this stage of the relationship creates more value to the company.

If you are a healthcare company and need information on learning about the various stages and the capabilities that get you to the Trust Inflection Point©, please contact us.

To summarize, companies need to move the customers higher in the value chain by following the 5 stage approach.

1. Communicate – Over communicate with relevance to the customer.
2. Interact – During every interaction, capture customer preferences.
3. Engage – Personalize every interaction to move the customer to the Trust Inflection Point©.
4. Collaborate – Collaborate with customers to help make the right choices.
5. Innovate – Get new ideas from customers to make business decisions.

About Our Company:

Digital strategy Yoga LLC is a strategy and solutions company that uses Digital Strategy Yoga™ framework to build digital transformation strategies for enterprises. We help our clients reimagine and reinvent their business models for the new digital age. For more information, click here.