I’m a cyclist. I recently crashed on my bike. I wish I could say I went down while contesting a sprint in a race, but the truth of the matter is more mundane. I hit a pothole. It’s the cycling equivalent of tripping while walking down the sidewalk. I went down pretty hard. Hard enough to crack my helmet and almost total my bike.
As I was sitting on the curb waiting for my wife to pick me up, I realized three things—I knew I had to apologize to my wife for crashing, I knew I had to go to the ER, and I knew that dealing with my insurance was going to be a tough experience.
As my bad luck would have it, my hand was not only broken, but would require surgery. And that meant insurance bills. Lots of them.
I’m a reasonably well educated person, but when it comes to insurance, I struggle. It’s a byzantine system. Deductibles. Co-pays. Flexible spending accounts. Provider networks. It’s frankly confusing. You never know where you stand, and whether you’re going to get a random bill. I’ve always wondered why it can’t be more straightforward. I know I’m not the only person to feel this way.
According to the Temkin Group, and to the surprise of few, organizations that lag in customer experience can be found more commonly in the airline, Internet service provider and healthcare industries.
History and most reputable MBA programs suggest that goods and services with a high level of complexity and poor experiences are ripe for disruption. For healthcare generally, that time seems to be at hand. Why? Three trends stand out:
- We’re being asked to spend more of our own money on services and products such as insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Costs continue to rise, and when costs rise, consumers and markets become more selective.
- More competition is coming to healthcare. As a result, providers are increasingly focused on customer retention and service delivery. They have to be because requirements in the 2010 Affordable Care Act opens up competition for membership in the individual and small group markets.
- There is an economy-wide focus on repeatable, memorable experiences that match individuals’ wants and needs. When executed well, this increases customer loyalty and lowers service delivery costs over the long term. Good experiences tend to get copied…
Broadly speaking, what are the expectations that people want to take from other experiences and apply to elsewhere? Three trends that healthcare providers need to focus on are:
Underlying all of these offerings is good design, which is an essential component of great experiences. In order to remain competitive, organizations across all industries should focus on:
- Delivering a consistent and/or cohesive experience
- Fostering deeper engagement with customers
- Improving the first time user experience
- Creating new products and services to meet unmet needs
- Improving efficiency and/or user friendliness of their existing products and services
Our healthcare clients and other industry leaders are embracing these progressive perspectives. Are you?