As the US healthcare delivery system becomes increasingly consumer-driven, patient satisfaction is more important than ever. Forward-thinking medical practices routinely put the patient/consumer at the center of their progressive planning. Hospitals and medical systems have the standardized HCAHPS instruments. Increasingly providers and marketing professionals want to hear the voice of the customer through feedback channels, patient satisfaction surveys, and online reviews. Patient satisfaction surveys bring immediate insight to physician marketing, tapping into customer loyalty, patient communications, identifying audience needs and spotting trends ahead of the competition.
What surveys want to know…
Typically, the data gathering in a customer survey is brief. In health or healthcare environment the questions and specifics will vary. However, if you, the customer are happy, you are encouraged to tell friends and family, to share your (presumably positive) experience via an online review, and/or to connect with the company via Facebook, Twitter or other social platforms. Of course, if you are not happy, then…”please tell our customer service team and we’ll work hard to put a smile back on your face.” A card provides contact options including telephone numbers (domestic and international), an email address and a website support page.
The five essential questions…
How you shape your survey or questions will vary, but the essential ingredients are:
- “Overall, how satisfied are you (with this order)?” Rate between one and five.
- “Tell me, how would you rate the value (of this order)?”
- “Would you buy again?”
- “How likely are you to refer someone or recommend a purchase?”
- “Can we improve (our service, our product or your experience)? Open space for comments.
The benefits of a patient satisfaction-tracking system…
- All feedback—the good news and the bad news—is helpful to business. You may not like to hear the negative things. But finding and fixing problems is business improvement. Large or small things help the current and future customer. Often they help create a better product or service.
- Consumer satisfaction translates into current business, repeat business and/or referral business. People enjoy doing business with people they like. Conversely, dissatisfied customers head over to the competition.
- When the voice of the customer inspires action, the customer feels validated. Taking action on behalf of, or because of, a customer comment is recognition of the importance of the customer to the business.
- Positive patient satisfaction helps retain existing customers. Marketing pros understand the value of current customers, as well as the added expense related to replacing a dissatisfied customer.
- Negative satisfaction is a direct deposit with the competition. The loss of a customer typically means they went over to the competition. To make things worse, it’s likely that they defected with one or more friend or family member.
You’ve got to ask…
If you’re not asking about customer or patient satisfaction you aren’t really measuring it. The three-time mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, used a memorable catch phrase. He was known for asking everyone, everywhere, anytime: “How am I doing?” Asking the question (and inviting the honest feedback) about a million times over the years, demonstrated his continuing concern for doing a good job. No doubt, it also helped keep him in the mayor’s office for over a decade. Many of these principles from the retail world are useful in healthcare delivery. Some creative adjustments may be needed, but a measure of satisfaction is a key to managing and improving the business, the product and/or the service.