Maintaining a positive and healthy relationship with its customers is one of the fundamental principles of every business, no matter what industry you are in. Whether your customers have a positive or negative experience with your brand is crucial in determining whether or not they will come back to you and spend money again on your offerings. Unsatisfying customer experiences can harm the brand’s overall reputation and success of the business, whereas positive and delightful customer experiences leave a lasting impact and encourage long-term customer loyalty.
The same principle applies in the healthcare industry. Every great healthcare company stands on many pillars of growth and one of them is, which makes them distinctive from other healthcare companies, to provide a delightful experience & support to their patients. Patient experience has become an increasingly important metric for healthcare providers to evaluate their quality and identify areas for improvement. It is essential to any healthcare business because patients with a positive experience are more likely to return and recommend your services to their friends and family.
Now you understand that patient experience is very crucial for your healthcare brand, let’s deep dive into it and explore how you can provide a first-class support services to your patients by using modern technologies.
Evolution of Patient Support Services
Patient support & care has been an integral part of the healthcare industry for many years. Earlier in the healthcare industry, patients had to go through a lot of hassle and wait for long hours to get their query to be resolved and even to get an appointment with doctors.
Earlier, patient support services came with a time frame between which patients can get support after connecting with the support team only. Thanks to the evolution of technology and AI solutions, today’s healthcare industry evolved so much that patients need not to wait in long queues to receive support services, everything is now accessible 24×7 through phones, chatbots, websites, WhatsApp, social media channels etc. With the evolution of AI, nowadays patients’ journey has become much more easier and faster.
By using some digital tools, now, hospitals and medical centres can send all the information like the doctor’s profile, their availability, time slots, booking confirmation, lab reports etc. within seconds to the patient mobile. Moreover, patients can access to these services from anywhere, which has resulted in saving a lot of time for both, the Hospital’s Staff and Patients.
Customer service and care nowadays are more customer-centric and less business-centric. Customers’ behaviours and ways of thinking have also changed substantially. In order to retain customers in today’s market, healthcare organizations must offer great post-purchase or post-booking care and services. The customer journey does not end with the purchase, instead brand should focus on building long-term relationships with customers otherwise they will switch to another brand that offers better services if they are not satisfied with your offerings. Patient service has come a long way from being a minor component of business transactions to one of the most important assets of any healthcare business.
Why building relationships with patients is important for any healthcare company?
Healthcare support is a higher-stakes game than most. Managing an order placed or replacement of a package is very different from fixing an appointment with a specialist doctor for someone who needs the attention on an urgent basis. The urgency and potential consequences of these interactions is what makes customer service in healthcare so important.
Building strong relationships with patients is essential for several reasons.
First, it helps to ensure that they have been appropriately cared for. If patients feel like they are not being listened to or their concerns are not being taken seriously, they may look elsewhere for the services you offer. Establishing a good rapport early on can help avoid this.
Second, it can help in building an emotional connection with your patients. By building positive relationships with your patients, you can get the information to understand your patient’s needs and your patients will have the trust in your offerings. This can help them feel more in control of their care and empower them to take an active role in the whole journey.
Another point, a good brand-patient relationship can be mutually beneficial. The more information patients share with you about their medical histories, queries and concerns, the more knowledgeable your business will become about its patients, which means you’ll be able to understand your patients and solve their problems more effectively. Your brand will become more trusted among your patients. Eventually, your patients will become your brand’s advocate because you made things easy for them and provide a great overall experience from beginning to the end.
Potential patients may judge the quality of your other services based on how helpful your customer service is. Some people might begin to question whether or not they can trust you to take care of their medical requirements if you can’t quickly resolve a billing issue or make an appointment.
And, there are countless benefits a brand can get after establishing a strong reputation in the market and building a deep connection with its customers.
The difficulties in providing exceptional Patient support and solutions
– There isn’t a customer service job free from stress. While easy queries get resolved quickly, but some queries become too complex, and they takes a lot of time to get resolved by the support team or sometimes gets neglected, which negatively impact customers.
Solution – Use interactive dashboards and analyze through data to know which queries are pending. Then direct Patients to a knowledge base or get them in touch with the correct team member to help.
– When a hospital gets bombarded with customer queries, most of the times, handling several patients simultaneously can be difficult for any agent and the agent may get exhausted.
Solution – 1. Hire many agents according to the requirement, so that whenever this happens you will have the manpower to handle it. Or, you can
2. Use AI & Machine learning technology to resolve most of the general queries in automated mode.
– Call transfers can be a pain for every individual involved. Patients often end up frustrated after wasting time repeating information, it results in longer wait times for incoming calls or chats to be answered.
Solution – Use automated chatbots or voice assistants to solve the generic queries of any patient, make them call when only needed, make them aware of their queue, if any. This will help in improving overall experience.
– Your patients are extremely busy. They don’t have time to wait around; they expect you to meet them wherever they like to communicate. The support process slows down and can become frustrating when your customer service professionals lack the equipment needed to meet your patients wherever they are.
Solution – Find the right customer engagement software that meets both your healthcare business and customer needs is key here. Tools like live chat, chatbots, whatsapp automation can all help improve customer service workflows. For example, if your hospital use “ABC” HIS system, then choosing a platform which comes with pre-integration with your HIS is the best option.
– Patient expectations constantly change and to fulfill them you need to understand exactly who is your patient, the journey they take while interacting with your healthcare brand, and what it is they want from you.
Solution – Collect your patients feedback. Getting feedback directly from the people who use service is extremely important when trying to improve the overall customer experience. Use automated systems to collect feedbacks as soon as someone use your services.
Provide omnichannel experience. Earlier, a simple chatbot was enough, but now, an omnichannel approach is considered the norm. It’s safe to say that this will continue to evolve over time. The key is to not settle for good enough or industry standards. Aim for the horizon while keeping up with the times, to increase your brand reputation for long term benefits.
Many healthcare businesses nowadays struggle to provide excellent patient service and care. Healthcare brands can overcome these obstacles to provide great services with the use of machine learning and AI technologies. The patient overall experience can be improved, the agents can be given more flexibility to provide better support, and operating expenses can also be cut by reducing man hour cost.
What types of customer service challenges do your support teams face?
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