Turning Trends into Customer-Centric Product

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Did you ever stumble upon a piece of knowledge that served you well throughout your career? Early on in my professional journey I happened upon a summary of key annual objectives for the board of directors at a hospital where I worked. For some strange reason, I thought to myself that I should try to see how I could affect any or all of the priorities set forth by the board. Granted I was a fairly lowly employee at the time and my sphere of influence was limited but I had a hunch that if I could align my efforts with leaderships priorities I would be working for the greatest good of the organization and in the process increase my value to leadership. As bold and quirky as that idea seems to me now, the underlying concept has served me well.

To be more specific, I spend a lot of time these days researching what leaders think about and what keeps them “up at night.” To the degree that I can play any role in assisting them with their prioritized needs, I feel I can position my brand in the optimal place in their business lifecycle. For me, that is a major part of customer experience design, doing the analytics on customers to help anticipate their needs so you can offer cutting-edge and relevant solutions.



Let me offer you a tangible example of what I mean by analytics and positioning. Since I am in the final throes of writing about the “patient experience” in a new book about UCLA health system, I expect after the book launches I will see an uptick in speaking and consulting events associated with healthcare. To that end, I need to know what is on the hearts and minds of business leaders in healthcare in these less than certain economic and healthcare reform times. So I have sought out industry trend data from healthcare leaders surveys. Those surveys offer a 30,000 foot overview of perceptions and concerns of industry stalwarts and allow me to think about solutions I might be able to offer in response to those concerns. I can then further customize the creation and positioning of products by conversations with industry leaders who I know and ultimately personalize my services for the prospective client in front of me.

So what are health leaders interested in? CFO’s in a 2010 health leaders survey suggest the following three items as priorities for the next three years”

Physician recruitment and retention (37.50 percent)
Cost reduction (35.53 percent)
Patient experience/patient satisfaction (33.55 percent)

While the piece of this data that is most obviously significant to me is the importance of driving patient experience, I need to be sensitive to delivery cost-effective customer experience solutions and even consider developing physician attraction/retention tools that map the value chain for prospective healthcare systems.

What’s also relevant about survey data is how it trends. In this case, the priorities of CFO’ shifted dramatically from last year when the 2009 survey ranked quality/patient safety first with 68 percent, physician recruitment and retention next and reimbursement third. I am not a safety expert and had limited offerings to assist in that arena, so I am now in a much better position to be of service to the evolving needs, wishes, and desires of healthcare leadership.



Hopefully, you are reading into this discuss and see the applicability for you. This is not about me or healthcare. Whether you are in hospital administration, consulting, or selling lemonade from a corner stand, you need to track industry trends for your customers. Generic survey data allows you to begin to create your offerings. Then conversations with your customers allows you to tailor your service around the segmented or personal needs of the people you serve. So what trend data will you look to this week?

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