Creating the Total Customer Experience in Medical Tourism
Looking for a sustainable competitive advantage? Make each customer feel like a Market of One.
Understanding how to address optimal patient experience is difficult, especially when dealing with international patients from wide variety of cultural backgrounds. When addressing total customer service experience issues, it’s important to understand this and customize your services in order to grow and excel in today’s highly competitive Medical Tourism market.
Dealing with Expectations
The key to managing international patient experiences is to understand expectations and needs. Experience mapping helps develop empathy with customers and understand their increasingly complex needs. This is achieved by incorporating multiple “touch points” into patient acquisition strategies. The key issues involved in patient experiences are:
- Expectations – Before each stage of patient acquisition process, what do patients expect? What needs do they have?
- Experience –How well does your organization currently meet patient goals and past experiences?
Touchpoint Performance – Where do patients turn to satisfy their needs? How well do you perform key interactions with patients?
No matter how good your healthcare product or service is, a strong patient acquisition system is absolutely necessary for an effective and profitable business. Such a system is the voice of your healthcare business; communicating with potential customers about treatment plans as well as superlative options your center can offer them. Many healthcare providers have perfected their skills in surgeries, treatments, or diagnosis. They fully utilize a solid group of employees, enjoy reliable suppliers, and even benefit from repeat customers. Still, many have neglected to develop a system that creates total customer satisfaction experiences from start to finish. Effective patient acquisition processes are essential to maintain and expand your international customer base.
In these tough economic times, creating a positive and lasting impression is critical to maintaining and growing your market presence. It’s not the time to think only of yourself when it comes to customer satisfaction. You must clearly offer benefits to your customers. A healthcare provider’s efforts to improve customer satisfaction will fall flat if he or she only concentrates on brand satisfaction. How that brand offers beneficial products and services to clients is of utmost importance when developing the customer experience. Health providers must know what their competition is doing in order to better allocate limited resources. In this highly competitive medical tourism market, you must rise above the competition and create an unparalleled value proposition for your customers by integrating the complete customer acquisition process.
Three-Phase Approach to Attracting Patients
Three primary phases are involved in attracting a patient to your center.
Phase 1: Marketing and Education
Phase 2: Patient Nurturing and “Selling”
Phase 3: Patient Surgery and Treatments
Offering quality care for customers begins before you even see a patient at your facility. In order to create total customer satisfaction, health care providers must place additional emphasis on Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the patient acquisition process rather than concentrating only on Phase 3.
Phase 1: Marketing and Education
Before a prospect becomes a patient for any healthcare facility, he or she needs to know about you, how to find you and inquire about your services. If you’re not visible, they can’t access your services. If you educate them about the options you provide or about your experience, and provide feedback or testimonials from patients you’ve treated, they’ll know whether you can provide the healthcare services they need.
Spreading the word along with your success stories is one of the most effective, and important elements, to create curiosity in a medical traveler’s mind, and encourages them to inquire about your services. If they don’t inquire about your services, you’ll never know whether there is a market need for such services. Hence, you will be limited to your existing paradigm of serving people only in your local communities where word of mouth and proximity is their key motivator.
If done correctly, results from Phase I implementation in the patient acquisition process will result in patient leads interested in learning more about your services.
Healthcare providers need to understand the reasons for patient education and develop techniques to ensure a consistent experience. However, stakeholders in the process usually see only their own aspect of the component, rather than the entire process.
Phase 2: Patient Nurturing and Selling
Once you acquire a patient lead through effective marketing and educational approaches, you must nurture that lead. You must work hard to convince the patient that you are the best solution for him or her. Some healthcare provider’s mistakenly believe this aspect of healthcare doesn’t rest on their shoulders. On contrary, the best “salesperson” in an organization is the organization itself. In order to generate and maintain total customer satisfaction and quality, you, the healthcare provider, must able to control this process effectively. You must be able to offer any patient the best experience of their life.
The Importance of the Human Experience
We, as healthcare providers, constantly deal with extreme human emotions. For that reason it is critical to nurture compassion and empathy and offer patients the expertise, information and results they’re looking for in the most effective manner possible. The result of this phase is a patient that has ultimately decided to explore your services and visit your facilities.
Major factors involved in this process from the patient’s perspective include:
- How information about a patient’s condition is amassed
- What is offered regarding treatment plans
- How well providers answer questions about importance of treatment
- Does the facility offer evaluation specialists when necessary
- Does the facility offer multiple treatment options when possible
- Does the patient have a choice of facilities or hospitals
- Travel distance and accommodation considerations
- Facility amenities
Phase 3: Patient Treatment
This is the phase that most healthcare providers are very well versed in. To ensure a quality customer service oriented business, you must consider “bed side manners” of staff, as well as understand the cultural background of the patient, potential language barriers, and other elements.
The hoped-for result of this phase of the patient lifecycle is a happy customer ready to tell the world how great you are and offer those coveted and treasured testimonials so that others may learn and experience the same benefits from working with your organization.
Create a unique and memorable experience for your customers. Consider all three phases of the patient acquisition process. One without the other will leave a bad impression. Deliver a world-class product that will distinguish your services and facilities from others.