The Power of Thanks in Healthcare

A successful healthcare practice or organization takes a lot of people to make it work - from doctors to staff, volunteers, donors, and of course, patients.

But while there are so many priorities in healthcare from certifications, quality, supply chain, hiring, billing, and safety, you can’t afford to overlook one simple thing - the act of thanks.

Not to oversimplify, but before you spend your money on a pizza party or more swag, stop and evaluate your organization’s Thank You programs first. Study after study tells us that for staff and customers alike, the power of thank you is real.

Thanks Can Improve Morale

Healthcare employees typically have a core commitment to do this work, it’s their passion and life’s mission, but it’s hard work. As healthcare leaders, we are very aware of the current crisis - mitigating the impact of long-term stress and burnout among our teams.

And while there is so much unpredictability in healthcare that leaders can’t control, a recent study among healthcare providers indicated that just feeling appreciated would make a difference in their morale at work.

Read that again - a simple act of thanks can make a difference. But that is for another article. Today we are focusing on the impact of thanks in retaining patients.

Thanks Can Help in Retention of Patients

“It’s strange to say, but we have never had ‘competition’ in our community for healthcare. We need to look at our brand and customer experience now that someone new is in town.”

This is a sentiment heard from a smaller community healthcare leader. It’s a reality that exists everywhere in healthcare - patients have choices - from the corner drug store to the new system that just acquired the hospital in your town. And in an industry with less than 40% retention rates on average, paying attention to the “churn” of patients is essential to survival.

And customer experience matters more than ever.

The past few years have accelerated the expectations (dare I say demands?) of consumers regarding the healthcare experience. They expect an easy experience, accurate information, good service, and access to care when and where they want.

Truth is, patients aren’t afraid to look elsewhere to get it. They have new options to seek care - from a corner drug store to new immediate care clinics or even other systems. To survive, healthcare practices and organizations must focus on patient retention and experience.

Identifying The REAL Needs:

In a recent conversation with a company looking to improve their customer experience, the representative said, “We really are committed to improving the customer experience, it comes from an honorable place.” That’s terrific. That’s a good start. But without specific strategy and priority of projects, you will drown in your good intention and you won’t demonstrate strong enough ROI to keep the support of leadership and staff.

The thing we see so often is the tendency to jump to quick tactics and programs without really looking at or understanding the data. It’s essential you get information or feedback on what truly is at the root of patient engagement and experience and not just try to fix it without knowing. Without doing the research, you may be misdirecting your resources and further frustrating people with “tone deaf” approaches that miss the mark. Launching campaigns and fixes that are not data-driven will result in a “tactic du jour” culture that will fatigue your customer and staff alike. Don’t do it - be strategic!

One health insurance company we worked with was trying to increase retention (they had a <50% retention rate) so they could grow. After a thorough review of the customer journey and touchpoints, plus deeply reviewing survey data, we identified where members were falling off and prioritized a couple of key initiatives that would meet the most important needs for new members. We didn’t guess or hope so, the data pointed the way.

Knowing that new members needed help to understand what they had access to, simple access to that information, and to feel like they had somewhere to turn when they had questions, we set off on our strategic approach.

We redesigned and simplified the member materials and website, addressing the most basic needs to understand their benefits and what their next steps were. We added in additional support information for our membership services teams so they had all of the information and instruction to take care of the staff on their own. And finally, we added three additional touchpoints prior to the “falling off point” to engage our new members on a personal and professional level.

Spoiler alert: It included some Thank Yous!

Thanking Our Customers

With the information we gathered, we made a very intentional roadmap of how we were going to show up, empower our customers and thank them for being a customer. As an insurance company, the member needed to FEEL and hear that we were genuinely concerned about their health and that we were their partner in this journey.

We created additional touchpoints that showed up along their journey to remind them of how to access their benefits and that we were here for them. Our favorite? A thank you and a surprise postcard that included a free download of a song from iTunes - so they could dance and celebrate their birthday. This was an interesting touch-point that added a level of surprise and extra touch along with the patient experience…and the thank you had a big impact!

This unexpected thank you for being a customer and celebrating them had a big impact on member satisfaction. It wasn’t about us and trying to get something or drive a specific call to action, it was an opportunity to just simply say thank you and celebrate them.

The Results?

We saw more than a 32% increase in member satisfaction in two years! And the staff? Well, they loved the changes so much, and the ability to take good care of the members, that employee satisfaction increased by more than 36% in that same time period.

It’s not magic, it’s frankly simple. People need to feel like they are seen, heard, and important - and a simple Thank you can go a long way.

At Boss Lady Consulting, our goal is to accelerate growth for our clients’ businesses through extraordinary brand strategies, effective marketing growth plans, impactful customer experience, and employee engagement programs. We love what we do and seeing our clients succeed is our greatest reward! If you need or want help to move your customer experience or engagement scores, we’d love to have a conversation and see if we are a good fit.

If you’re ready to grow your practice, or just want to learn more, book your free, no-pressure exploration call today, or leave us a message here.