Rethinking Customer Experience After a Public Health Crisis

Customer experience is at the center of every organization’s survival. In the healthcare industry,  positive experiences influence 78% of purchasing decisions. Truly understanding what your customers care most about and addressing both their acute and long-term needs with a superior experience are without question the most powerful ways to stand out in a competitive marketplace.

In just several months-time, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives and livelihoods of millions. This unprecedented healthcare crisis is not only changing the business of healthcare but will likely have a permanent impact on the expectations of patients.

As we move through and beyond this challenging time, the customer experience mindset will require a rethinking of priorities and reorientation of strategies. Keeping a real-time pulse on changing consumer preferences and adapting the customer journey accordingly are what it will take to build strong, enduring relationships. Three customer experience practices should take the forefront: walking the talk, being empathetic, and establishing a sense of community. 

Walking the talk

Trust is the ultimate currency in every industry – especially healthcare. And trust is inextricably tied to customer experience. In a post-pandemic world, the bar to gain someone’s trust will be set higher than ever. How will you earn (or keep) that trust?

Actions matter. You need to do more than just say you care and have compassion for what your customers are going through.

To win the hearts and business of potential customers, you must prove to them your organization is authentic and transparent. Being authentic means being accountable and following through on promises. According to a 2017 consumer survey, 86% of people say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support.    

Being transparent means proving through actions that there is no hidden agenda. It means exuding honesty and sincerity about the how, what and why of what your organization is doing. The impact of the actions you take during this time will likely outlast the pandemic and define your customers’ loyalty into the future.   

Being empathetic

To meet your customers where they are, you need to be empathetic to the challenges they are facing. Right now, millions of people are in crisis – wrestling with an array of financial burdens and fears about their health. They may have lost their health coverage. They are likely avoiding the healthcare system by delaying care and ignoring chronic conditions. They want contactless transactions. They are also grappling with the reality that they will be living differently for some time.   

All the uncertainty is driving high levels of stress and anxiety. Customers are human beings who are craving comfort and connection and finding themselves in need of a new customer experience.

Now’s the time to be sensitive to how the world has changed by asking, “How do we support our customers right now in a meaningful, human and relevant way?” Making a concerted effort to understand evolving dynamics and new pain points and effectively addressing them will result in strong customer experiences.   

Establishing a sense of community

Building community is crucial to the customer experience. Your organization’s relationship with customers is developed over time, nourished by positive experiences, and supported by a sense of community.

The coronavirus pandemic is unique in that it is forcing people to be physically separated from their friends, extended family, workplace and favorite places. While it may be redefining many peoples’ sense of community, it’s important to be careful that it does not draw hard lines.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, research showed that 64% of U.S. consumers felt companies had lost touch with the human element of customer experience. Now, people may be struggling to navigate a socially distanced world and need more human connections. To meet this need, you should strive to infuse virtual experiences with a human touch. By humanizing every customer interaction, you will be able to forge connections and create a sense of community.

Relishing the comeback

There’s a popular quote that says, “The comeback is always stronger than the setback.” It is so important to maintain hope that we will emerge from this traumatic time stronger than before. We need faith that there is something greater on the other side. If we are going to be living in a changed world, we should trust that even though things are different it’s all for the better.

Organizations that have adapted to the changes brought on by the pandemic will likely benefit from a strong comeback, with superior customer experiences and stronger customer relationships. If your healthcare organization is interested in alleviating financial stress on your patients, HealthPay24 can help. Contact us today!