How to Retain Customers in a Time of Crisis: A CX To-Do List for SaaS Companies

Financial markets are sliding, a pandemic is spreading around the world, and every company is scrambling to respond to quickly changing circumstances. Planned investments that were intended to drive growth — like hiring, media spend and software purchases — are being reevaluated as business leaders are forced to triage what they need to do to weather the storm. We’re all in survival mode, but survival is about prioritizing what is most important.

And what is most important to a SaaS business at this moment?

It’s not toilet paper.

It’s our existing customers.

Now more than ever, customer experience is job #1. 

We think the SaaS businesses that focus on retaining customers and building loyalty are the ones that will survive and thrive in this uncertain climate. 

Of course, the question then becomes how do you retain customers and build loyalty?

Shift from a growth mindset to a retention mindset 

This may not hold true for every business we work with – Zoom, GrubHub, and the e-commerce toilet paper company Who Gives a Crap are having quite a moment. But most businesses are facing contraction because people don’t buy in a panic. Budgets are being trimmed everywhere, and customer success and renewal conversations must be deeply empathetic to this.

So, if a customer is achieving goals with your software, and you have other features and capabilities that will make them even more successful in 2020, then, by all means, paint a bold vision of an expanded partnership. But, if that isn’t the case, and they want to reduce or leave, don’t come across as tone-deaf. It’s likely that everyone in their company has been asked to find ways to trim spend.

That means that it’s even more important to know that your internal champion can confidently advocate for you – because you are delivering value. Step up your customer success initiatives. Make sure you and your clients are recording successes. And don’t be afraid to change the conversation from trying to get the customer to buy more, to showing him or her how the company can get more value from what they’ve already purchased.

Listen to your customers even more carefully – and respond

Even when you’re focusing on your existing customers, don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re the “same” customers – they’ve changed. We all have. Because our needs change in a downturn. Companies that are on the pulse of those changes by proactively listening are better poised to adapt, innovate, survive, and serve.  Make calls to key customers.  It’s even more important now than it usually is to listen and respond to concerns quickly. 

Take care of your people

Your employees, your teams, are the key to your customer relationships. They may be concerned about their health or the health of their parents, or grandparents. They may be struggling to find childcare options if their schools are shut down. They may be stressed about their 401K balance. Whatever it is, empathy and flexibility are going to be key – and so is prudent business planning. How can you plan to support your employees through these challenges?

Be a good citizen

For the collective good, and for the good of your brand, it’s so important right now to prioritize the good of the community and show conscientious, caring judgment. To do this, you may need to make some tough calls that hit your short-term profits, but protect people. We’re all making sacrifices – the New York Times dropped its paywall for coronavirus news and Zoom is giving K-12 schools free video conferencing. Is there a way your company can help people in need right now? You’ll be remembered for it. 

Establish a company policy of flexibility

Just as you have to be flexible with your employees and their quickly-changing challenges, you also have to be flexible as a company. For example, if a client calls customer support to request an extended payment plan, empower your support team to deviate from your standard policies and allow it. Be open to changing how you usually do things if it makes sense and shows compassion. You’ll likely prevent avoidable churn.

Jessica Pfeifer, Chief Customer Officer at Wootric, shared this recent story with our team:

“I just had a customer reach out about putting their subscription on hold. They operate in the hospitality sector which has been particularly hard hit. We offered to work out a plan to enable her to continue to get customer feedback during this critical time. Her response was ‘That would be amazing! Thank you!’ I know we’ve strengthened customer loyalty.”

Customers notice the companies that support them in difficult times, so be flexible when you can, and you’ll build loyalty for the future.

Close the loop with customers when they offer feedback

This may be built into your CX program already, but if not, now is the time to double-down on listening and responding to customers. Ensuring your customers feel heard and cared about in times of high stress carries more weight than when times are easy. So if a customer responds to one of your surveys, be sure to close the loop and let them know you value their time and will take appropriate action. 

Customer success managers can reach out one-on-one via email or phone, but that isn’t always practical. Closing the loop can be automated when you have your feedback readily available in systems like Intercom or Salesforce. Here’s a quick guide on how to automate closing the loop on customer feedback.

Improve customer experience at customer journey touchpoints

In SaaS, this often means using an NPS survey to gauge overall loyalty and surface any issues that may affect renewal. To get serious about retention, consider asking for feedback at critical SaaS journey points–after onboarding, support interactions, and during product/feature use.

This isn’t about quickly adding a slew of new surveys overnight; it’s about prioritizing improvements to moments that, if not successful, can sow the seeds of churn. Now is the time to double-down on understanding and improving the customer journey.

SaaS Customer Journey touchpoints and surveys

Also, remember to analyze the qualitative feedback from these surveys. A customer who is “satisfied”  but mentions a concern over price may now be at a higher risk of churn.

SaaS Product Feedback with topics auto-categorized
Source: Wootric CXInsight Analytics Platform

Focus product development on reducing friction for existing customers

In the software business, product experience is the all-important driver of customer experience. So, to foster customer loyalty, think about what you can do to create more ease for existing users.

Blake Barlett at OpenView says product-led growth is the key to success in the End User Era. In this era, end user annoyance spells opportunity. Think Slack vs. email, or Zoom vs. Hangouts.

End User Era - example software products

In financially uncertain times, a product-led development philosophy can hold the key to faster end user adoption and increased retention. Tune into those day-to-day annoyances – they hold the key to retention.

Accelerate end user adoption

Happy end users make your application stickier, so if your champion is struggling to persuade others in their company to use your platform, you need to know why. You may need more in-app cues and guidance to make tasks easier. What is “so annoying” about your product? Ask your customers that, and you may find exactly what you need to reduce friction – which will pay off in retention.

Now is the time to deepen relationships and partnerships with promoters

Guneet Singh, Director of Customer Experience programs at Docusign, spoke about this in a recent Voice of the Customer webinar. He looks for champions among his promoters who have a common pain point, and then brings them together in councils that engage with DocuSign’s product team. Through this customer advocacy program, his customers learn from each other, get a first look at new product features, and provide valuable insights for the DocuSign product development roadmap.

How do you begin a customer advocacy program like this? Pay attention to customer requests and “start with small wins,” says Guneet. “If you complete the feature that a customer asks for, by listening and acting on their words, you’ve won that customer for life.” 

We couldn’t agree more!

The most valuable commitment we have is to our customers. And as much as we work to grow, to scale, to expand — it’s times like these where we have to remember to appreciate the people who already support us and show them support too. We’re all in this together.

Learn how Wootric can help you measure and improve customer experience. Book a consultative demo today.

6 Customer Experience Best Practices to Transform Your Patient Experience Program

In many important ways, healthcare organizations and consumer businesses are fundamentally different. And yet, there is no question that today’s patients bring a distinctly consumer mindset to their healthcare experiences. That means patients are better informed about their healthcare choices. They have easier access to information and reviews about providers and facilities. And they are much more willing to walk away from providers that can’t deliver both quality care and good overall experiences.

This dynamic raises an intriguing question: If patients are increasingly bringing consumer expectations to their healthcare experiences, what (if anything) can the healthcare industry learn from leading consumer companies about improving those experiences?

The answer, as it turns out, has important implications. A growing number of healthcare providers are discovering new solutions to long-entrenched challenges and limitations by exploring, adapting, and applying proven customer experience (CX) best practices to their patient experience (PX) efforts. There are many examples, but to begin the conversation, here are six proven and broadly accepted CX best practices that are especially relevant and useful for healthcare organizations looking to breathe new life into their patient experience programs.

Best Practice #1: Build a Winning Patient Experience Strategy

Today, 90% of healthcare organizations say improving patient experiences is a high priority. But only 8% of those organizations have managed to put a successful patient experience strategy in place. [1] This huge gap highlights the challenges of actually creating a balanced and complete patient experience strategy that defines who your patients are, clearly outlines what kinds of experiences you want to provide, and describes how you want patients to feel after they receive care from your organization.

There are obviously no easy, one-size-fits-all prescriptions for developing a strong, effective PX strategy, but there are some core ideas from the consumer world that can help guide your efforts:

  • Create a more patient centric culture. Cultural changes are never easy. But many leading consumer organizations have proved that with consistent, ongoing effort, you can successfully define what “patient centricity” means to your organization, communicate that definition and get buy-in across every level of the organization, and ultimately shift your core culture to focus more on delivering complete, world-class patient experiences.
  • Align your patient experience strategy with your core brand and business strategies. The world’s best consumer businesses understand that a successful CX strategy has to be closely connected to and aligned with the organization’s brand and business strategies. The same is true in the healthcare world. With the proper alignment in place, you can make clear promises about what patients should expect from your organization (brand strategy), consistently deliver on those promises (PX strategy), and then connect those experiences back to your organization’s overall goals (business strategy).
  • Find and engage with a dedicated customer experience executive. Getting organizational buy-in for patient experience improvements that impact multiple departments always requires strong leadership from the top. Smart consumer businesses often assign a dedicated executive to provide the leadership, influence, and continuity needed to develop and execute on a successful CX strategy. The same approach will help drive the success of your PX program.

Building and implementing a successful patient experience strategy takes time and a lot of persistent effort. But with the right strategy in place, you’ll reach a point where all the people, data, technology and processes you put in place start to yield results that are clear to everyone—from employees who are now empowered to deliver better experiences to patients who experience the results first hand.

Best Practice #2: View Your Patients’ Experiences Through Multiple Lenses

Many healthcare organizations depend on standardized survey programs as their main (or only) source of patient experience data. But the best consumer organizations have learned that meaningful improvement comes from collecting information from the widest possible range of sources along every step of the customer journey. For healthcare organizations, this involves combining and complementing standardized surveys with more targeted and personalized information gathering tools. It also includes finding ways to unify and tap into all of the incredibly rich sources of patient information that exist in your point-of-care, safety and quality, operations, and other healthcare systems. Surveys ask patients to look back at their experiences after they’re over, but these other tools often measure reactions and responses in real time at specific points. They also make it possible to incorporate and share (with permission) the perspectives and experiences of family members who are involved in caring for their loved ones.

Of course, this “multiple lens” approach requires a technology platform that’s capable of normalizing all these different sources of data, analyzing them, and converting them into cohesive and useful patient experience insights. But when this platform is in place and working properly—and all of your different patient systems are connected to it—you gain an incredibly rich and unified view of the complete patient journey.

Best Practice #3: Use Predictive Analytics to Prioritize Your PX Efforts

In addition to combining and analyzing customer experience data from different sources, smart consumer organizations leverage advanced predictive analytics to accurately identify what matters most to their customers and pinpoint what types of CX changes will have the biggest positive impact.

By adding this additional intelligence to your patient experience technology platform, you gain the confidence of knowing that your efforts are making the largest possible contribution to increased loyalty and improved patient experiences.

Best Practice #4: Empower Employees to Make Smarter, Faster Decisions

For consumer businesses, survival often depends on making smart decisions faster than the competition. In the CX realm, this typically takes the form of dashboards and reports that quickly synthesize multiple performance measures and data sources into clear, simple, and actionable insights—and then makes them available to everyone who needs them in nearly real time.

In most cases, healthcare organizations have been much slower to adopt these types of dynamic, customizable tools. But a technology platform that combines and unifies different sources of patient data also lays the groundwork for the types of near-real-time dashboards that can drive smart, informed, and relevant patient experience decisions across every layer of your organization.

Best Practice #5: Take Advantage of the Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) uses a single, standard question to measure how likely a customer is to recommend a product, service, or brand, and it has been nearly universally adopted by companies in the consumer world. NPS serves a uniquely valuable purpose, because it uses a single numeric score to consistently measure satisfaction and brand loyalty across nearly every market and industry.

Today, the healthcare industry rarely uses NPS, but it presents an interesting opportunity for forward-looking healthcare organizations. By adding NPS to your patient experience program, you can gain a perspective that goes beyond the healthcare industry—and measures your performance against the larger consumer landscape. This becomes especially valuable as patients increasingly bring consumer expectations to their healthcare experiences. Of course, with NPS—as with any other metric—it’s important to focus on meaningful action and improvement, rather than simply “chasing the score.”

Best Practice #6: Focus on Actions and Results

Nearly every consumer organization collects customer experience data and documents the results. But the true CX leaders also know how to translate those efforts into meaningful, systematic changes and improvements, and they know how to do it quickly. This is an especially relevant area for healthcare organizations, because there is a strong tendency to focus more on collecting patient experience data than actually driving and managing change.

That’s not surprising. Gathering survey data, generating reports, and documenting scores are focused, self-contained activities that fit neatly into familiar, well-defined boxes. Effective change management, on the other hand, requires the buy-in and active participation of virtually everyone, across all roles, levels, and departments. As a result, many healthcare organizations dedicate resources to the part of the process they can more easily understand and measure—and hope that the information somehow leads to improvements.

For consumer businesses and healthcare organizations alike, closing this gap between measurement and action means investing equally in the information gathering and change management sides of the equation. If you’re collecting more complete and relevant information about your patients’ journeys in real time and from more sources, turning that data into actionable insights in near real-time, and then feeding it into a unified and effective change management framework, you can quickly identify, prioritize, and implement changes that will make the biggest difference for your patients.

Start Applying CX Best Practice to Your Patient Experience Program Today

The world’s biggest and most successful consumer businesses have been obsessed with improving their customers’ experiences for decades. And despite the important differences between healthcare organizations and consumer businesses, there is a very long list of techniques, tools, and best practices you can adapt and apply to breathe new life into—and create new possibilities for—your patient experience program.

Find out how MaritzCX can help you apply best practices from the consumer world to enhance every part of your patient experience program and meet the rising expectations of your patients.

Call 385.695.2800 or visit maritzcx.com/patient-experience to talk to a representative and schedule a demo.

 

[1] Kaufman, Hall & Associates report 2017 State of Consumerism in Health Care: Slow Progress in Fast Times.

A Sales Gong for CX : Broadcast Real-time NPS to Your Entire Workplace

The sales gong is a motivational technique used on sales floors around the world. Every time someone closes a deal, they bang a gong or ring a bell to celebrate their success. And when the office gets quiet? Everyone knows it’s time to hustle. 

In other words, there’s never any question about how the team is doing at any given moment, and the constant feedback gets the entire sales force aligned in their mission to sell, sell, sell. 

Now… imagine doing the same thing, for your entire organization, regarding Customer Experience (CX)? Rather than a sales gong, picture a TV monitor that broadcasts real-time customer feedback and Net Promoter Scores (NPS), getting everyone from accounting to operations aligned in the mission to turn customers into raving fans.

Broadcasting real-time NPS data will help you build a customer-centric culture, which ultimately leads to greater customer loyalty and powerful returns.

What is a Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

Measuring your Net Promoter Score is relatively straightforward. An NPS survey asks your customers to rate, on a scale of 0-10, how likely they are to recommend your company, products, or services to a friend or colleague. 

Responses are then grouped into:

  • Detractors (those who responded 0-6)
  • Neutrals (7-8)
  • Promoters (9-10)

To determine your Net Promoter Score, subtract your percentage of promoters from your percentage of detractors.

NPS = (% Promoters – % Detractors) 

Example: You survey 500 customers, asking how likely they are to recommend your company to friends or colleagues. 50 respondents (10%) answered 0-6, another 100 (20%) answered 7-8, and 350 (70%) answered 9 or 10.

Your Company’s NPS is 70% – 10% = 60.

The Net Promoter Survey is then followed by one of the following open-ended questions (depending on their answer):

  • “What can we do to improve?” (those who rates you 0-8) 
  • “What did you love about your experience? (those who rated you 9-10)

Why does NPS matter?

The correlation between revenue and CX is solid. And, NPS is the foundational metric that can serve as a north star on the journey to customer-centricity and the growth that comes with it.  However… simply gathering feedback and measuring NPS gets your nowhere. 

The real power of NPS comes from the system you build around it. This means:

  • Closing the loop with customers (i.e., fixing the problem, thanking them for their feedback).
  • Analyzing responses to prioritize improvements to products and services.
  • Using NPS to create a more customer-centric culture.

Only then does NPS help you retain more customers and drive growth. 

In a custom-centric company, the Success and Support teams works diligently to close the loop with customers, the Product team analyzes the data to create superior products, and Marketing crafts their messaging to educate and answer objections before they arise. 

As for shifting company culture? That’s a job for the CEO or a C-Suite sponsor of your NPS program (often with the support of the VP or Director of Customer Experience). 

Creating a more customer-centric culture with NPS

Culture change is a multifaceted undertaking, but you can anchor it with your NPS program. Evangelize NPS as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI), right alongside revenue, churn, and other important figures.  

What does evangelizing NPS look like? 

  • Educate everyone (from new hires to the board) about why NPS is important to customer experience management.
  • Share the results of NPS surveys in company newsletters and quarterly board decks.
  • Don’t just share the score by itself. Include customer comments and NPS trends by customer segment.

Where reports and memos fall short

Unfortunately, in between those quarterly reports, NPS can get lost. Unlike the Sales gong that keeps everyone on the floor tuned into customer acquisition as a Key Performance Indicator, NPS can be out of sight and out of mind. 

And that’s where a real-time display of NPS feedback comes in. You can bridge that gap between reporting cycles when you display your evolving NPS live, on a monitor, along with raw customer feedback.

Real-time NPS displayed on a monitor in the workplace
Real-time NPS, trends, topics, and comments on a Wootric TV display.

4 Reasons to broadcast real-time NPS and feedback in the office

If your goal is to create a more customer centric company and reap the benefits of a high NPS, an “NPS TV” can help unite everyone on that mission in the following ways.

1. Reinforce awareness of NPS as a KPI.

Certain KPI’s are more obvious than others. Revenue, profit, and conversions get a lot of airtime, but NPS is easy to ignore unless you put it front and center.

In reality, everyone should be thinking about NPS if you want to drive growth!

2. Build empathy with the customer. 

There is nothing quite like seeing the latest comments from active customers appearing on screen. Overjoyed, frustrated, curt, complimentary—it’s the emotions in the verbatim comments that humanize your customers and creates a connection to their experience. For more tips, check out these ways to build customer empathy

3. Reach departments that don’t normally engage with customers. 

The customer success team lives and breathes NPS because it’s an early indicator of churn. But the finance team? Not so much. At customer-centric companies, everyone understands their responsibility for customer loyalty. 

Set up the monitor in a prominent place. It could be on a wall everyone sees as they come in or out of the office, opposite the coffee machine, or in any hub in the workplace. 

That way more people are likely to read customer comments and tune into NPS trends.

4. Invest in an easy, low-cost enhancement to your NPS program

For the cost of a computer and a monitor, you’ll be in business in minutes—and that’s a small price to pay if you are after customer experience transformation.  As far as NPS tools go, it’s one of the cheapest and most effective ones on the market.

Note: For remote teams, a monitor doesn’t work. What to do? Create an NPS Slack channel! Click here to learn how to use Slack and NPS date to build customer-centricity.

Customer centricity… and beyond!

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business, but unless an employee’s job is customer-facing, it’s easy to lose sight of what your customers are going through. Making everyone aware of NPS brings the customer experience into stark relief, and it unites everybody in a single, all-important mission.

Remember: Net Promoter Score has a solid impact on revenue, and it’s the single best metric for predicting long-term growth and success—when you build a customer-centric culture around it. If you can involve everyone with creating a positive, seamless customer experience, your NPS score will rise and your revenues will soar. 

Learn how InMoment can help you measure and improve customer experience. Book a consultative demo today.

The Importance of Onboarding in the Automotive Industry: Part 2

To view the first part of this blog series, click here

The Important First Day of the Employee Journey

In the last blog on the Employee Experience in the Automotive industry, we looked at the strategic importance and economic benefit of an effective onboarding process and focused on what should happen prior to the employee’s start date.

In this post, we’ll look at what happens when employees arrive on their first day. As before, we are focusing on the automotive industry, but the principles equally apply to other industries as well.

Creating a Welcome Kit

Once the day has arrived, you want to make it special and the best way to do that is to create an exceptional first impression. Have your receptionist be aware of the start date and ensure that the new employee is welcomed appropriately.

In fact, consider creating a “Welcome Kit” that contains numerous positive first impression opportunities such as branded assessories. Have a welcome letter from the Dealer Principal, or even from the OEM President, prepared and left at the new employee’s desk.

Often items like these are used daily and a new hire will feel an immediate attachment, so much so that they will often continue to use them for years all the while linking back to that first day.

Lastly, provide any desktop resources and in this case, the term desktop is in the literal sense. Any print materials such as dealership newsletters, upcoming community involvement notices, employee recognition programs -anything that conveys positive dealership activity will help to make a new employee feel good about their decision to join the team.

From an online standpoint, consider adding a dedicated Welcome page to your intranet or LMS.  Creating a specific Welcome starting point will be engaging and will direct a new hire to specific curriculum best suited for their role.

Be sure to include a Welcome video or a step-by-step tutorial of where and when to access available training resources which, again, builds on that important first impression and helps to ease the potential training concerns people face with any new job.

As the day continues, ensure a dealership tour takes place and introduce the new hire to the various departments and team members.  This is just as important for the existing team as for the new hire as positive introductions will help break the ice and hopefully lead to productive working relationships.

Engaging the New Employee Beyond the First Day

After the tour, review any administrative processes and outline not only the orientation for the remainder of the day, but also for the week ahead. For example, if this is a sales role, you may want to suggest the new hire learn as much as possible about one specific model per day.

Encourage them to drive the vehicle and speak with other salespeople. Have them talk to the service personnel to better understand the maintenance requirements of the vehicles they’ll be selling. Learning all the details of an entire product lineup can be daunting, so focus on small daily or weekly goals that are attainable.

To sustain this positive feeling past the first day, OEMs or even large dealer groups should consider conducting monthly webinar sessions for new hires. This would be a great way to meet others, online at least, who are in a similar situation and allows for the moderator to run through the onboarding process once again to promote upcoming events, answer outstanding questions, and receive important feedback.

This also could be a great opportunity for a short, anonymous employee survey to uncover any opportunities for improvement in the onboarding process.

Who Should Lead the Onboarding?

In terms of leading the onboarding, often this is left up to a Sales or Service Manager and while this is optimal, typically these managers are busy and other responsibilities may interfere with the full attention they can bring.

As an alternative, consider creating a role for an onboarding Champion, an individual whose responsibility it is to see that new employees are thoroughly walked through the onboarding process and are there to help answer additional questions in the upcoming days and weeks ahead.

This role would not take the place of a manager, as it would likely be a secondary role for a peer in the new hire’s respective department and as such, is designed to be another level of support.

When developing this role, consider making it a possible precursor to a management position as it will involve people skills, accountability, and guidance – all valuable traits in any future manager.

Onboarding is an Essential Part of the Employee Experience

To recap, onboarding is an essential part of the employee experience. Onboarding any new hire will be most effective when done in a consistent process. Include it in the hiring stage, allowing you to demonstrate your commitment to their success, the level of support available, and necessary accountability to complete the required curriculum.

Turnover is costly and leads to lower employee and customer satisfaction so ensure you take onboarding seriously and allocate the necessary resources to make a new hire feel comfortable, valued and a welcome part of your dealership family.

Onboarding is one of the most important processes a dealership can have, as it often predicates the likelihood of a new hire actually staying long term and starting a successful career. Not only will the implementation make a difference in the company, but it will also help individual employees to feel valued and achieve their career goals.

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Onboarding in the Automotive Industry: Part 1

The Automotive Employee Journey

Let’s start with some good news.  According to Tinypulse.com, 91% of employees are retained by an organization with an effective onboarding process and 69% of new hires are likely to stay for three years if there is a well-structured onboarding programme in place.

But here’s the bad news – 22% of staff turnover occurs within the first 45 days.

According to Fred Reichheld, the inventor of NPS:

“If you wonder what getting and keeping the right employees has to do with getting and keeping the right customers, the answer is everything. Companies need to care about the employee experience because that’s the only way they will be equipped to deliver a great customer experience.”

The reality of the statement seems to be hitting home. We do a lot of work in the area of employee engagement.  We have received more requests for information and proposals in the last year for employee engagement projects than we have in recent memory.

The automotive industry suffers from higher-than-average turnover, especially in the key areas of frontline roles that deal directly with the customer. And without a positive employee experience, it is much more difficult to deliver a positive customer experience.

Manufacturers seem to be recognizing more acutely the need to have fully engaged, interested, and satisfied frontline employees which is particularly challenging, in an industry that globally still tends to operate on a franchise model.

In this two part blog series, we will be looking at the employee journey. The first will deal with the time leading up to the employee starting their first day of work; the second will focus on what happens once they actually get there. Even though our focus in this post is on onboarding for the automotive industry, the principles can be applied across industry.

Minimizing Turnover While Increasing Satisfaction

For the automotive industry there’s a very strong economic argument for decreasing employee turnover.  According to Ted Kraybill, president of ESI Trends which conducts the annual National Automobile Dealers Association Dealership Workforce Study in the US, a 10-percentage-point increase in turnover will cost the average dealership $7,500 in gross profit per employee per year.

If the average dealership has 70 people, a 10-point increase in employee turnover for the average dealership costs more than $500,000 in gross profit annually.  Multiplied by NADA’s count of roughly 16,500 dealerships, it’s an $8 billion-plus problem (Automotive News, 2017).

The first step to minimise a high employee turnover is to implement a strong onboarding process for your next hire. A good process will increase the employee satisfaction and retention, whereas a poor one will result in consistent and costly turnover.

Showing Commitment to the Development

By presenting the onboarding steps, brand history, curriculum and resources available, you demonstrate your commitment to an individual’s development, success, and comfort level when first starting a new role. This can be a tense time for anyone in a new position, and the more structure you can present before they are hired, the more likely you are to attract a better candidate.

Communicate Accountability

A second goal along with this support, is to communicate the accountability that goes along with it. By demonstrating that certain courses are to be completed, and a culture that is to be adhered to, you are setting expectations that will need to be met. Too often a new hire exhibits the wrong behavior simply for the fact that they were not told of the desired behaviour by the employer.

By doing this before the actual hire takes place, you ensure they understand what is expected with no surprises after they start.

Share Onboarding Plan Prior to the Employee’s First Day

Once you have made the hire official, often there can be some time gap until the actual start date. If this is the case, you may want to consider sending any applicable resources to the new hire to help prepare them for your brand and/or dealership.

Even having them explore the websites in depth with specific information needs will help them become more familiar with their new surroundings. Here they can learn more about the product and possibly the team they will be working with which can help them feel more at home.

It may also raise some initial questions that they can be prepared to ask on their first day.

Speaking of the first day, an effective onboarding process is transparent, meaning that you need to choreograph the day and prepare the new hire for what’s ahead. Sending an email or text in advance with the day’s agenda will help to confirm your commitment and help them start off on the right foot.

Positive Employee Experiences Turn Into Positive Customer Experiences

The bottom line is that in order to retain employees, effective onboarding processes need to be put into effect. Better preparing employees before their first day and during training will decrease turnover and ultimately help new hires to feel supported by their team, stay committed to development, and increase their communication with leadership.

With an exemplary onboarding process, automotive companies will see an increase in fully engaged, interested, and satisfied employees. And when employees have a positive experience with the company, they are more likely to pass on the positive experiences to their customers.

Click here to read the second part of this series.

Sources:
  1. Automotive News (‘Employee turnover costs dealers billions’ Jan.23, 2017)

Best Practices to Improve Experiences in a Patient-as-Consumer World

In just a few short years, technology and business innovations have fundamentally changed how people interact with—and what they expect from—the services and organizations they depend on. Today, the unavoidable fact is that people make decisions and invest their loyalty based mainly on experiences, not necessarily the nuances of products or services.

This consumer-focused and experience-driven reality has profound implications for the healthcare industry. People expect fast, deeply personalized, and highly mobile experiences in nearly every aspect of their lives. They won’t tolerate long wait times or dismissive providers. And they won’t hesitate to share their opinions on social media, use the power of the Internet to investigate other options, or switch to a healthcare provider that offers them the kind of patient experience they expect.

In this landscape, your organization simply can’t afford to stick with the status quo or fall behind the patient experience curve. You need more effective, innovative, and unified programs to understand every aspect of your patients’ journeys; accurately measure their experiences; and quickly convert all the patient data you collect into practical, meaningful improvements. And you need to get there quickly.

1. Fully Explore and Understand the Challenges

There are legitimate reasons why healthcare is rarely at the top of people’s “best experiences” list. Understanding what those reasons are, how they impact your patient experience efforts, and what you can do to overcome them is the first step in taking your patient experiences program to the next level.

Siloed and Regulated Patient Data

In the healthcare industry, incredibly rich sources of data are sitting in various safety, quality, point-of-care, operational, and employee systems, but all that information is locked inside protected, regulated silos where it serves a narrow purpose that is completely disconnected from patient experience concerns. This inevitably leaves you with a narrow, incomplete view that limits your ability to understand the complete patient experience.

Limited Standardized Survey Tools

Since CAHPS inception in 2006, the surveys have brought public accountability to the healthcare industry, and an increased focus on patient satisfaction. But now, forward-thinking organizations are looking for immediate, within hours, feedback instead of weeks, from social media and other digital channels, and there are new innovative tools that can supplement patient feedback.

Ingrained Cultural Mindsets and Processes

Healthcare professionals are dedicated to providing the best possible care for their patients, and they do a remarkable job. But depending on the circumstances, the experiences that surround that care can leave something to be desired. Complex regulations and internal processes create confusing check-in procedures and stacks of paperwork. Budget-driven understaffing leads to long wait times and rushed, overextended providers. Understanding the root of the problem is key in determining what actions are needed to make the working environment and patient experience better.

2. Overcome Challenges with an All-Inclusive, Results Driven Approach

When you fully understand the scope of the patient experience challenges you face, it’s clear that more patient surveys and a deeper investment in standardized CAHPS surveys is not the answer. Jumping to the head of the patient experience pack will require a more flexible, holistic, and results-driven approach.

Embrace a Centralized Technology Platform to Unify Patient Data and Additional Research Capabilities

An all-inclusive approach to patient experience has to start with a centralized technology platform that combines all of your patient data sources into a single, unified, and multi-faceted view. It is imperative that patient experience organizations leverage a technology platform that takes advantage of CAHPS, adds depth and flexibility to collecting patient data, and engages with patients in different ways, traditional mail, email, mobile, social media, and more.

Data and technology are essential components of any all-inclusive patient experience program. But you can’t reach your full potential without some proven customer experience strategies and proven services like understanding the patient care journey, easily customizing and personalizing patient survey design, adding a governance component to your strategy and plans, and being able of dig deeper into data using some type of true driver analysis tool.

The healthcare industry can learn a lot from customer experience programs in other industries. But that requires experts who understand both customer experience best practices and the complex nuances of the healthcare industry.

3. Design, Diagnose, and Deliver a World-class Patient Experience Program

It’s important to understand the big picture. But what does an all-inclusive program look like in practical terms? And what does it allow you to do that you can’t do today? Here are a few practical capabilities and benefits you can look forward to with a comprehensive patient experience program.

  • All of your existing survey tools, including CAHPS, become part of an all-inclusive patient experience program, visible within one platform.
  • Surveys are easy to customize and change, so you can design them for each individual patient, collect more reliable data, and measure every patient’s complete journey.
  • Patients can access surveys using whatever methods they’re most comfortable with – from completing a paper survey and mailing it to tapping responses on a smartphone.
  • Data from every source is instantly uploaded to a platform, so you can combine survey data with safety, quality, operational, financial, and clinical data to gain deeper, more complete insights and pinpoint specific areas for improvement.
  • Use tools to call out immediate action
  • Learn about patient experience services to fill gaps, meet specific needs, and enhance and expand every part of your patient experience program.
  • Follow a specific, step-by-step patient experience roadmap – based on best practices and created specifically for your organization – so you can focus your efforts and resources on initiatives that lead directly to your desired outcome.
  • You should leverage expertise from customer experience (CX) best practices to enhance your team and guide your efforts.

Find out how healthcare organizations break the mold and build a results-focused patient experience program that’s built to meet the expectations of modern patients in the digital age. Contact us at 385.695.2800 (8am-5pmMT) or visit www.maritzcx.com/patient-experience

 

 

 

Advice on Adding a Reward Component to Your CX Program

Recently more and more of our clients are considering adding a significant reward component to their customer experience (CX) programs. This may take place by directly rewarding CX outcomes, or by adding them to an existing reward-based incentive program. Many automotive manufacturers have been using CX outcomes in their reward-based incentive programs for decades.

The insights provided below are based on our experience running the CX component of many of those programs. There’s a lot to think about if you are considering combining reward or compensation components with your CX program.

Your program will come under much more scrutiny and participants will care much more about it. Participants, especially those who do not achieve the reward, may also
challenge your program. This is why the process of setting, communicating, and enforcing program rules (i.e., program governance) becomes very important.

For the purposes of clarity, in the descriptions below we are going to use a typical example of a customer experience program that is run by a company to obtain feedback about experiences across its retailers (i.e., the reward program participants). However, when we refer to “retailers,” they could be any customer-facing program participants like franchise locations, bank branch managers, insurance agents, hotel managers, etc.

Consider What You Want to Accomplish

Adding a successful reward component to a program involves making many decisions about how to structure your program, that will ultimately determine its success. Before you begin making these decisions, it is important to clearly articulate (ideally in writing) what you hope to accomplish. For example:

  • What kinds of behaviors are you trying to change, and in whom?
  • Are you looking to reward people whose feedback indicates they are doing an exceptional job?
  • Are you hoping to nudge low-performing retailers to begin focusing more on customer experience?
  • Do you just want to incentivize people to keep doing what they’re doing?

Most programs we’ve encountered are set up to award the majority of retailers, both for marketing and retailer improvement purposes. However, due to budgets, there is a trade-off between the number of retailers you can reward and the size of the rewards you can give.

This is just one example of why it’s important to have alignment on the purpose of your program up front, so that the goals you set, metrics you collect, rewards you give, etc. can be strategically chosen to bring about the specific impact you want.

Qualification Criteria

Once you know what you want to accomplish with your program, you’ll want to decide what criteria need to be met for a retailer to qualify for consideration for the reward. There several factors that should be considered:

Pre-qualifiers: Some programs set criteria for a retailer to be eligible for reward consideration, no matter what their score. These criteria may be financial-based (e.g., minimum sales) or CX program-based.

For instance, if the retailers in the program are the source of the customer contact information, the percentage of provided sample with valid email addresses (i.e., data cleanliness) and/or the overall percentage of customers with valid email addresses (i.e., data coverage) are often used as pre-qualification criteria.

This encourages retailers to collect and report email contact information to be used for surveying purposes. Other pre-qualifiers can include retailers having completed training and other activities that contribute to the delivery of exceptional customer experiences.

Number of Returns: You will need a reliable and valid measure of customer experience upon which to base your rewards. To have enough surveys responses to produce a valid score, the general rule is 1000 is great, 100 is good, 30 is acceptable, and anything below that is questionable.

However, even when using 30 as the minimum responses needed, problems often occur because each retail unit needs to have that number of returns in the time period being measured. For context, many of our programs that receive over a million responses per year have difficulty meeting the 30 minimum responses at the retailer level because those responses are unevenly spread across thousands of retailers.

So, what do you do?

You need to look at the distribution of responses across your retailers and pick the highest number of returns that won’t exclude too many retailers due to low sample size. This analysis will also help you decide what time frame is needed to gather enough returns at the retailer level. Meaning, you might not have enough returns to support a program that gives quarterly rewards, but you may be able to give rewards semi-annually or annually.

Goals and Cut Off Scores

When implementing a reward program, you’ll need a goal or cut-off score that determines who earns the reward and who does not. These goal scores have many characteristics you need to consider.

SMART Goals: First of all, your goals should follow the SMART guidelines. In other words, your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. Describing the details of SMART goals is too large of a topic to address here, but that information can easily be found online.

A Single-Item Measure vs. an Index: You also need to decide if your goal is going to be determined by a single customer experience measure (e.g., Net Promoter Score, Overall Satisfaction with the Transaction) or an index that combines measures.

An index of key performance indicators (KPIs) is usually preferred because it is more statistically reliable, and you can focus your employees on achieving various KPIs. The KPIs making up the index can also be weighted to account for their relative importance in determining the customer experience.

We recommend that an index contains no more than three or four measures because people and businesses can only focus on a few things at a time.

A Universal Goal vs. Different Goals: Another important decision is if you will use a universal goal for everyone in the program or if you will have different goals for different groups of participants. While a universal goal is easiest to administer, in many cases it is not the best choice.

Because CX performance can vary greatly by geography, most reward-based CX programs set different goals for different countries, and many set different goals by region within countries to ensure fairness.

A Single All-or-Nothing Goal vs. Tiered Goals: One problem with setting a single all-or-nothing goal is that the goal may not be motivating for program participants who are so far away from the goal that they have virtually no chance of obtaining it. Therefore, you might consider adding a smaller reward solely based on improvement or provide rewards based on level of goal attainment (e.g., at 80%, 90%, 100% and 110%).

Another problem with having one all-or-nothing goal is that, when the value of the reward is significant, it can lead to undesirable behaviors when retailers are unable to achieve the goal by honest means. In these cases, retailers may resort to survey manipulation or other gaming behaviors to obtain the all-or-nothing reward.

A tiered structure with different attainment levels and corresponding reward values can help prevent this.

Absolute Goals vs. Relative Goals: Absolute goals are goals that are set before the beginning of the reward period. Relative goals are usually goals that are finalized at the end of the reward period and are based on all retailers’ performance during that time period. Common relative goals are the national average, or the score associated with the top “X” percent of retailers for the reward period.

In general, we recommend use of absolute goals because relative goals cause retailers to “shoot at a moving target.” This can lead to confusion and frustration, reducing program engagement.

While absolute goals are preferred, that does not mean they can’t be set using relative comparisons. Many programs set their absolute goals by using the national average or score associated with top tier dealers from the previous reward period.

Goal Level: How high you set the bar has important implications for people’s effort, and for the success of the program. Ideally, each individual or retailer will have a goal that is “just reachable” – a goal that is high enough so as to stretch them to perform to the best of their ability, but not beyond their reach in which case they may give up and disengage from the program.

Characteristics of the Reward

There are several aspects of the reward itself that you need to consider:

Type of Reward: The most common decision here is whether you are going to offer cash or non-monetary rewards like merchandise or travel experiences. While cash is often used, it may not be the best choice for a number of reasons.

First, it is important that the reward is a “bonus” to the participants, not something that they need to achieve to maintain their business or livelihood. While most people will say they would prefer cash, it can easily become absorbed into one’s personal budget and spent on necessities, thus becoming a need.

When this occurs, it is much more difficult to discontinue a cash-based rewards program because participants are relying on it for their livelihood.

Non-monetary rewards, on the other hand, are perceived as distinctly different from cash and usually deliver greater motivational and emotional value because they represent the opportunity to treat oneself or others with luxury items that might be difficult to justify if purchased. Also, non-monetary rewards usually have trophy or social value whereas cash does not.

Most program participants would be reluctant to tell friends they received a $5000 cash reward, and many would not remember how they spent that reward money a couple of years later. However, tangible items like merchandise and travel experiences provide lasting memories of being rewarded that are socially acceptable to talk about with others or post on social media. This extends the emotional arc of the reward, making it more meaningful and valuable to the recipient.

Amount of the Reward: Obviously, the amount of the reward will depend on your budget and how many winners you anticipate. Rewards need to be valuable enough to be motivating or people will either fail to engage or consider them unfair in exchange for their time and effort. Conversely, the rewards should not be so large that the need to win them triggers undesirable behavior or resentment if they are discontinued.

Timing of the Reward: You also need to determine the time period in which the rewards will be earned. Most reward programs we have seen provide rewards either quarterly or annually. It is particularly important that you set the time period long enough so the vast majority of participants will reach the minimum survey returns criterion.

For those who cannot meet the criteria in that time frame, you may want to find a fair alternative solution so they will not feel devalued.

Program Administration

Program administration is one of the things that will change most if you add a significant reward omponent to your CX program because there will be more scrutiny of scores and more “score chasing”.

Survey Appeals Process: Most CX programs with significant rewards have some sort of survey appeals process, either a formal set of rules or a “one-off” decision making process. For consistency and fairness, a formal set of rules is preferred. Generally, survey appeals should be granted only in cases where egregious survey errors have occurred.  Sending the survey to the wrong customer or having the customer rate the wrong retailer or transaction would qualify as egregious errors.

The remedy for successful appeals should be to remove the surveys in goal score calculation rather than giving “full credit.” Many CX programs set a limit to the number of appeals a retailer can make to prevent appeals from getting out of hand.

“Mulligans:” In golf, a “mulligan” is a free do-over without a penalty stroke. In the CX world some programs allow “mulligans” by dropping retailers’ bottom one to five percent of surveys in a given time period. This is done to hopefully minimize the survey appeals process and to address the common complaint that, “you can’t satisfy everyone.”

Generally, allowing “mulligans” is not a good idea for a number of reasons:

  • It often does not minimize the appeals process. Retailers still challenge surveys in the hopes they won’t count toward their mulligans.
  • Most programs set goals based on national/regional performance across units. For something to truly be a “mulligan”, goal scores need to be set without removing mulligans, but retailer scores need to be calculated while removing mulligans. Otherwise, you are just “raising the bar” by removing mulligans. While necessary, this process can cause unnecessary confusion to the understanding of program rules and thus less participant engagement.
  • All retailers have to deal with unreasonable customers. That’s part of the job and the effects of having difficult to satisfy customers should “wash out” over retailers.

Establish Rules for Survey-Related Behavior: The key to having a CX component in a rewards program is to ensure that the survey responses are in sync with the actual experience and that participants aren’t asking for a rating inconsistent with actual performance.

Unfortunately, when there is a significant reward on the line, many retailers talk to customers about filling out the survey and encourage them to “give me a good grade.” Therefore, you need to set and clearly communicate rules for what behaviors are allowed and not allowed.

Some programs prohibit retailers from even mentioning the survey to the customer. Others allow retailers to inform the customer that a survey will be coming and ask the customer to please fill it out, but that is all they can say. Things that are typically not allowed include: Telling customers they are “graded” on the survey, showing customers a survey with all top-box responses checked, telling customers their pay depends on survey results, and providing incentives for good survey scores.

Program Adherence Monitoring: Most companies that have significant rewards based on their CX programs have processes in place to detect if retailers are attempting to manipulate the results. There are several markers that could indicate manipulation: duplicate customer contact information (e.g., email addresses), retailer domains in the email address, unusually low percentages of valid email addresses, unusually low or high response rates, unusually high number of multiple responses from the same IP address, and multiple responses from the same computer or smartphone.

A best practice in this area is to keep the specific survey manipulation detection methods unpublished to make it difficult for participants to figure out work arounds. However, the general fact that survey returns are being assessed for manipulation should be publicized. Retailers are less likely to try to game the system if they know their company is monitoring results for cheating.

Establish and Communicate Consequences of Cheating: This is where many programs fall short because cheating is implicitly allowed through the lack of consequences for getting caught. If cheating is allowed, many people will not go to the effort to do the behaviors your program is designed to incentivize.

It can also undermine a program by creating a sense of unfairness for the participants who try to earn their rewards honestly. Programs that do enforce cheating rules usually use an escalation approach where the retailer first receives a warning and is given time to rectify the situation. If infractions continue, the penalties usually grow in severity.

Publish a Program Manual: As you can see, you’ll have to establish many program rules and these rules will need to be clearly communicated to the program participants. Many program managers do this by publishing an annual program manual that describes both the rewards and the rules.

Final Points

The primary point we hope you take away from reading this paper is that combining a significant reward program with your CX program is a very big decision that needs to be considered carefully. It is a decision that is usually very difficult to reverse.

Once you start giving rewards based on customer experience, if you decide not to continue to do so in the future, your retailers will likely interpret that decision as, “the company doesn’t prioritize customer experience anymore.” As a result, your customers’ experiences will probably suffer.

Finally, if you add a rewards component to your CX program, your program will likely become much more complicated. Many decisions will need to be made about such things as the ultimate goals of the program, the criteria for inclusion, and how success will be measured and rewarded. You will also need to implement many new rules and procedures to oversee the program.

Overall, a well-designed and well-executed reward program can have a meaningful impact on the loyalty and behavior of your stakeholders.

How to Automate Closing the Loop on Customer Feedback

Gearing up to launch a customer experience management program can be a huge project. Companies often struggle with survey deployment, in particular, software marketers that want to gather feedback from users inside their application. Marketers often have to wait in the dev queue to add code to the product to enable a survey.

And, when the focus is on gathering feedback, many will launch a CX program without a plan for responding to customers. Everyone knows it’s best practice, but it can seem daunting. Let’s remedy that with an automated, code-free way to follow up.  Included in this article are screenshot examples of messaging that you can adapt, courtesy of lead-gen startup and Wootric customer, Albacross.

Send Surveys and Close the Loop 

First, why close the loop? By implementing a closed-loop element into a customer feedback program like Net Promoter Score, you can identify problems before they escalate, discover upsell opportunities, and strengthen your position among potential buyers. Plus, you are building your relationship with every customer when you acknowledge them for taking the time to provide feedback.

If you use Intercom to communicate with customers, you’re in luck. It’s extremely easy to implement a customer experience (CX) program with Wootric’s entirely code-free Intercom Messenger Integration and start gathering feedback right in Intercom chat. Wootric’s NPS microsurvey can be integrated with Intercom Messenger with one click and survey responses automatically appear in Intercom user records. This makes it easy to set up automated follow-up messages to survey respondents based on their sentiment. Whether or not you use Intercom and Wootric, you can adapt a close-loop process to your own systems. 

Lead-gen software startup Albacross recently shared how they were able to swiftly automate a full-cycle NPS program. While the team started out by simply sending NPS surveys through Intercom, they quickly realized the value in closing the loop with all of their respondents–detractors, passives and promoters. For Albacross, automating a close-the-loop process took just a few simple steps and the results have been incredible. Albacross has been able to understand its detractors on a whole new level, and they’ve been able to leverage promoters to drive more business. 

Read on for how you can easily do the same. 

Automating the Follow-Up on Every NPS Survey Response

Ask Detractors for Product Feedback

Sure, it might not feel great when you’ve received some low scores from valued customers on your NPS survey. But, qualitative feedback from detractors can become a guiding light for your organization as it chooses what issues and insights it wants to prioritize. You should also pay attention to detractors because a low score is often an indicator of customers who are at higher risk of churn. In other words, it’s crucial that you leverage your detractors – there is so much that you can learn from them. And, it’s quite simple – here’s how Albacross automated their messages for detractors: 

For users who rate their app low (0-6), Albacross sends two Intercom messages that ask for additional feedback. The main purpose of asking for additional feedback is to start the conversation and gain a deeper understanding of how the customer feels, what they’re struggling with, and why they’re disappointed.

Albacross sends messages via email: 

and via in-app messages that appear immediately after the user completes the survey:

When creating these automated messages, it’s important that you pay great attention to the simplicity and brevity of the message you’re sending out. In this case, Albacross only asks users for a single thing that they can improve to make it as easy as possible for customers to answer.

Ask Promoters to review you on Capterra or G2Crowd

But, what about all of your promoters? How can you make use of all this praise and admiration coming from your customers? 

Here’s the answer: get your promoters to share their experience on online review sites. 

Online reviews are of utmost importance in a buyer’s evaluation process, especially in the B2B world, since these transactions often involve many people and large investments of money. According to a study done by G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing, 71% of B2B buyers look at online reviews during the consideration stage. In addition, 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review. By getting happy customers to share their positive experiences online, your organization can build credibility, improve trust, and increase brand awareness among potential buyers. If you’ve got happy customers, the momentum is already there – it’s now your job to transfer that positive momentum from your surveys to review sites. 

Let’s take a look at how Albacross closes the loop with their promoters. 

For users who give the app a passive rating (7-8), Albacross sends an email of gratitude to let them know that they appreciate the user’s feedback. This is sent via in-app message.

You’ll notice that Albacross’s message is short and sweet, and at the end, they ask their users to leave them a review on Capterra. 

For users who rate the app very high (9-10), the Albacross team sends an email with similar content, but this email is sent from their CEO. 

Automation Leads to Results

Automating your close-the-loop process is guaranteed to uncover invaluable insights and drive high-impact action, whether that’s fixing a common issue for detractors or sending promoters to a review site to share their praise for your product. We cannot stress the value of closing the loop enough. 

In the case of Albacross, their efforts in automating their program saw two key tangible effects:

Albacross’s NPS Score is consistently climbing. In just a short period of time, Albacross has more than 2x’ed their NPS score. Anyone with any experience with NPS knows that this is not an easy feat. 

Secondly, Albacross now has a rating of 4.5/5 and 100+ reviews on Capterra. Most of the reviews that they’ve gathered recently have come from promoters who were directed to Capterra from Albacross’s automated Intercom messages. 

So, go forth and close the loop with survey respondents. It’s easy when you automate!

The Employee Experience is Crucial to a Successful Patient Experience

Employee Experience and Patient Experience Go Hand-in-hand

Let’s be clear: I love my job. Truly. In fact, I’m one of those people who truly enjoys going to work. Sickening? Perhaps. But hang on…here comes the punch line: it’s been A WEEK. School is back in session, which means a new and unfamiliar schedule…and necessary bedtimes. (I really dislike bedtimes, especially on beautiful August summer evenings here in WI.) Kid sports and activities are again in full swing, most nights of the week. And we’re nearing Q4 on the business side of things, which means…client budgets need to get used and therefore, we are UBER busy. Which truly, is a good thing.

What’s not a good thing? The 13 hours of sleep I’ve managed across the last three nights. And, confession time: I’m simply not my best in this intense a situation, on this little sleep, with this level of stress. I’m not patient, I’m less kind than I should be, I don’t listen to my kids and husband very well, and I don’t truly engage in my life. I’m surviving.

After the week started the way it did, I saw this meme on a social media site the other day and it struck a chord with me. UNTIL, I had a friend say to me, “You don’t want to be a survivor, a warrior…you were made for better – you’re a THRIVER.”

And you know what? She was absolutely right. All the personal stuff aside, when I’m stressed, tired, overwhelmed, I’m most certainly not as professionally innovative and sharp as I know I’m capable of. And it got me thinking…healthcare professionals, with whom we are working more and more, work in this type of environment frequently. The stress, the “go-go-go,” the utter fatigue…this is a common scenario for many of those we trust to help us get and remain healthy – our physicians, nurses, and the office and admin staff that support them.

You know those moments when you stop in your tracks and think “holy cow?” Yeah, I had one of those moments. Because about a month ago, the pediatric after-hours line sent me to the emergency room with a sick kid. A physician friend on staff that night came out to greet us. He then stopped in our room to check in again at the end of his shift at 12:30 AM before heading home to his wife and three kids. Thinking back now, I realize how much better our experience was that night because this employee cared.

This is one key reason why we need to care about – and measure, monitor, and respond to – the EMPLOYEE experiences in healthcare, and not just the patient experiences.

These physicians, nurses, office staff, they are human and prone to human emotions, reactions, flaws just like the rest of us. Which means that they also get tired, frustrated, and stressed – and that this can also impact the way in which they perform their jobs that day.

As was the case for my family that night in the ED, these employees are the ones that can make or break a patient experience. And that night, we were fortunate to have care reflective of a healthcare organization that values, appreciates, and actively works to engage its employees in their roles.

Recently, I was trying to schedule a specialist appointment for my son and the “first available time” was 4 months out. My poor child suffers from major allergies, has asthma, and we couldn’t get his prescription renewed until we’d visited his allergist. Realistically, by the time we’d have been able to get in, all the allergens would have been frozen out, since we live in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, so it made more sense for us to cancel that appointment and free that slot up for someone else!

This brings us to a second reason why we must care deeply about healthcare employee experience: the current shortage of healthcare professionals.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, projected that 1.1 million additional nurses are needed to avoid further shortage, and that as a profession, employment opportunities for nurses will grow at a faster rate than all other occupations from 2016-2026.

There’s a similar story on the physician side, with the Association of American Medical Colleges projecting a shortage of 120,000 physicians by 2030. With Baby Boomers getting older, this shortage will only increase due to increases in patient volume and demand, and as Baby Boomer healthcare professionals retire.

Undoubtedly, these shortages will impact both availability and quality of care. While not a macro solution, one way healthcare systems can proactively mitigate these shortages on a local level is to focus on efforts designed to retain their teams. Employee retention is a complex concept, and impacted by a variety of factors: the nature of the work, the employee’s manager and teammates, the work environment, work-life balance, perceived value of the work the employee does, etc.

Understanding what matters to healthcare employees, and actively working to engage them is going to be critical in both the short and long term.

I was reading an article recently about a nurse on her way to work who, upon seeing a mother running down the highway, pulled over and was able to revive the woman’s non-breathing infant child. When these stories make the news, two things often strike me as consistent elements: the individual involved in the life-saving measure is a healthcare professional, and the drama has played out outside the confines of the hospital or clinic in which this healthcare professional works.

But here’s the thing: this is what these professionals DO. Not all may actually work in a role in which they are called to save lives on a daily basis, but on the whole, it is these same employees, going about their jobs on a daily basis, who are frequently the reason why a patient in their care has lived instead of died.

This story illustrates a third reason why a program measuring a holistic patient experience MUST also include measurement of employee experience. The actions, the attention, the engagement of the doctors, nurses, in-take staff are often what separates patients from life or death.

Healthcare systems and hospitals are the entities that have the power to proactively understand and manage the employment experiences of their employees. Whether they do so, not only impacts the delivery of care, it can literally mean the difference between life and death.

So how can the healthcare industry value their employees while providing an excellent patient experience? Below are some best practices to be considered:

  • Include employees in conversations that involve patient feedback and care, as they are the ones who interact with patients day to day. Paying attention to feedback can help bridge the gaps in experiences for both patients and employees. Employees need to know that their voice is valued.
  • Remember that employees are human. Healthcare industry leaders are in position to look out for the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of their employees. Something simple like providing a meal during a long shift, or making sure employees are highlighted for their important work is a good way to start. Recognition goes a long way, and helps employees feel valued by the patients they serve.
  • Provide growth opportunities for employees, allowing them to learn new things while helping them with their career paths. This not only makes the employee feel valued, but also increases loyalty to patients and their respective healthcare employers.

3 Reasons Why Behavioural Science is Critical for CX Transformation

Spare a thought for the millions of emails that are never opened.

For the millions of letters that are never read.

For the millions of website clicks that never reach conversion.

For the millions of full baskets that are never checked out.

For the millions of forms that are never filled out.

For the millions of conversations that leave the customer unsatisfied.

Despite the strive for customer-centricity, many businesses have forgotten what is most important: the customer. So how do we bring back the human touch?

More and more customer experience teams are starting to use principles from Behavioural Science to transform their customer experience. Want to try taking this innovative approach for yourself?

Below are three reasons to start incorporating nudges from Behavioural Science in your customer experience today:

1) You Can Use Behavioural Science to Better Understand and Change Customer Behaviour

There is no doubt that Behavioural Science provides a compelling toolkit for understanding what is really going on inside customers’ brains. Behavioural Science uses these customer insights in order to change behaviour and drive compelling results.

For example, when our brains are faced with too much information, we experience “cognitive overload.” To reduce this problem for one of our clients, we helped them to “chunk” complex information in phone calls into digestible parts. This made it easier for customers to take action, and improved the sales conversion by +68.5%.

2) Behavioural Science Transforms the Internal Customer Experience for Employees, as Well as the External Experience for Customers

The brilliance underpinning Behavioural Science is that the human insight is universal. We’re using the very same techniques to improve the experience for employees and, by doing so, this creates valuable experiences for customers.

For one of our clients, we used the principle of “reciprocity” to make conversations in contact centres more meaningful and fulfilling for both employees and customers alike. Customers aren’t saying, “I don’t know what you mean,” anymore, and employees are enjoying their conversations more.

As a result, the churn rate of staff is down to a one quarter of the previous levels, and employee NPS has improved considerably.

3) Behavioural Science Benefits From Academically Rigorous Techniques that Prove the Value of Customer Experience Transformation

Customer Experience Transformation Programmes are often challenged on their ability to deliver concrete value to the business, and one of the benefits of Behavioural Science is its academic rigour. Being able to prove that customer experience interventions are backed up by science is a real asset in a business context.

Randomised Control Trials, A/B split tests, MVTs all combine to accurately and statistically prove the value of any investment, and make a robust business case for future investment.

In order to demonstrate the value of using Behavioural Science to transform customer experience, we work with our clients to design rigorous experiments.

In one such experiment, we demonstrated that our Behavioural Science intervention delivered transformational commercial returns of £37:£1.

There’s no doubt that using Behavioural Science allows you to deliver a superior customer experience with transformational results. If you’d like to learn more about how you can start using Behavioural Science to improve your customer experience today, come and say hello at the Cowry Consulting stand at CXForum on the 9th of October.

www.cowryconsulting.com

MaritzCX Unveils the Healthcare Industry’s First CX-Based Patient Experience Platform

MaritzCX is the first and only CX platform company that’s been CMS-certified to offer Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS®) surveys.

Identifying the need for an all-inclusive, customizable patient experience survey and reporting framework, we developed the MaritzCX Patient Experience Platform, the healthcare industry’s first CX-based patient experience platform.

The platform allows for HCAHPS, patient experience, employee experience, safety and quality, point-of-care/rounding, operational, financial, and clinical data can be uploaded into a single platform, in real time.

With an inclusive view unlike anything before, healthcare organizations can identify more significant and impactful improvements to enhance patient experiences, scores and reimbursement.

They can also view and analyze patient experience data from multiple sources and surveys to gain a more comprehensive view of what impacts the patient journey.

 

“Healthcare organizations have long looked for patient experience best practices outside of their industry. Meanwhile, MaritzCX has spent 50 years implementing customer experience best practices for leading global organizations in industries that include hospitality, retail, high tech, and financial services. Finally, MaritzCX has smashed the regulatory and technology barrier between the two arenas. MaritzCX has spent the last two years building a platform that offers the functionality needed to revolutionize the patient experience. With the MaritzCX Patient Experience Platform and CMS certification, we help healthcare firms break free of the inflexible and stagnant offerings provided by current patient experience vendors in the space today.”

— Mike Sinoway, MaritzCX President and CEO

 

Hospitals and Patients Benefit from a Revolutionary Patient Experience Platform

  • Limitless Customization Capability

 From self-serve to full-serve with MaritzCX experts, healthcare teams can easily design survey questions down to the level of each individual patient, if desired. Customization extends to dashboard views, reports and distribution options directly within the platform.

  • Seamless Integration with Existing Systems

 Easily integrate current survey initiatives and systems into the MaritzCX Patient Experience Platform and view data from HCAHPS, Safety, Quality, Employee Experience or any other data source in one place. Viewing data dynamically together aides in understanding connections and performance.

  • Patient-centric Platform

Make the patient the priority and offer options via responsive mobile, text, email, online and mail capture feedback from beginning to end along the patient journey.

  • Employee Experience (EX) and Patient Experience (PX) Linkage

MaritzCX is the only firm that focuses on true EX-PX linkage and transparency of patient experience data across the organization, coupling it with employee awareness, training, management and recognition/reward programs. This linkage helps PX teams get to the root of organizational change (employees) to positively impact patient experiences.

 

Customer Experience Experts that Know Patient Experience Too

Experts in customer experience, MaritzCX is the only CX platform company to earn CMS certification. Our Patient Experience Platform is built, supported and implemented by MaritzCX, ensuring complete HIPAA compliance.

Click here to start improving your patient experience today.

Ready to Tackle Customer Churn? Here’s How.

Is there a business that hasn’t lost a single customer? Doubtful. Customer churn is inevitable. For this reason, maintaining superior customer experience in a world of insurmountable choice and lagging brand loyalty is of utmost importance. Now I’m no mind reader, but since you’re still here, I’ll assume that you’re struggling with generating new demand for your business and keeping existing customers around at the same time.

For starters, let’s define customer churn.

Also known as customer attrition, churn refers to the rate at which your customers stop purchasing your product or service, signaling the end of their relationship with you. These customers stop bringing in revenue for your business. 

Customer Churn Rate Equation

Let’s say that you started this quarter with 500 customers but lost 25; this means your churn rate is 5%. 

Other measurable ways for customer churn include:

  1. Number of customers dropped
  2. Percentage of customers lost
  3. Amount of monthly recurring revenue (MRR) lost
  4. Percentage of MRR lost

What Causes Customer Churn?

  • Value Pricing is tricky because customers are always looking for the most cost-effective solution to the problem they wish to solve. Customers need to feel like their purchase was worth the cost, so it’s crucial to establish value early on, through customer onboarding and education. Otherwise, they’re at risk for churn. 
  • Product Fit – Another common reason for customer churn is an inferior fit. If you have a sales team that’s hustling to hit quota but isn’t incentivized to sell to good-fit customers, your company will face consequences. Soon after their purchase, customers will realize they can’t achieve their goals with your product and will churn.
  • User Experience – If you have a product that’s not very intuitive or your software is glitchy, chances are customers will be less likely to use it on a regular basis and build expertise with it. They may not stick around for long. 
  • Competitors – Even if you believe you’re assisting customers to achieve their desired outcomes, they’ll still churn if they firmly believe that a competitor can do a better job. Competition is fierce these days, so you need to work hard to set yourself apart from your competition.
  • Missing Features/deliverables – Let’s say you fail to fulfill a goal that was initially agreed on while getting a client on board. When you fail to provide services as promised, you’re bound to lose a customer.

What Are Some Churn Indicators to Watch Out For?

1. Weak CX metrics – When thinking about churn, there are two CX metrics, in particular, that you should pay close attention to:

    • Net Promoter Score.  The grand-daddy of customer experience metrics, a detractor or passive NPS survey response is a leading indicator of churn. 
    • Customer Effort Score. Many software companies have adopted CES to measure the ease of getting started with your company or product. If this critical phase, often known as onboarding, is too difficult, churn can follow. 

2. Usage levelCustomer churn is often preceded by a period of decreased usage level, so keep a close eye on users’ login activity. This will help you to identify at-risk customers right before they churn. Also, if a customer downgrades to a lower tier of your product, this should be worrisome news – there’s a good chance that this customer will soon stop using your product altogether.

3. Customer’s KPI’sIf your product or service isn’t helping customers achieve their KPIs, then the chance of them churning is much higher. If you notice that a valued customer isn’t reaching their desired goals, it’s crucial that you reach out to them and find out what you can do to better help them achieve those goals.

4. Customer HealthWhile measured definitively when a customer renews or doesn’t, customer success teams look at a number of factors to assign a customer health score to an account. Take a look at the kinds of customer support interactions you’re seeing from the customer. After using your service, do you think the customer is getting what they’re paying for? How does the account manager feel about the customer’s state of mind about the services they’re buying from you? Factor in the account’s CX metrics. As soon as you have an idea of who might leave, you’ll be able to take all the relevant steps to define the problem, fix it, and retain their business. Eventually, you can start to implement a systematic approach to measuring customer health, uncovering at-risk customers, and reaching out to them.

5. Feature AdoptionEvery product or service has some key feature that makes it stand out from competitors. If a valued customer isn’t using these features, this is an indicator that they might churn soon.

6. SupportThis point refers to the number of support issues raised, the severity of the issues, the time it took to resolve them, and the customer’s satisfaction with the interaction (often measured with a CSAT survey). These factors can have a significant impact on a customer’s health, so they’re important to pay attention to. If a customer hasn’t reported any issues or asked any questions, this could also be a red flag – a silent customer doesn’t mean they are happy with your product. 

What Needs to Be Done?

1. Engage with your customers.

This might sound obvious, but engaging with your customers is the best way to make them stay. Proactively inquire about how they are doing using CX surveys at key journey points. This will help you identify who is happy and who is at risk. Armed with this information, follow up with a conversation if warranted. Get them on the phone and show that your company genuinely cares. But don’t stop there – keep engaging. Depending on the size of the customer, you may want to schedule a quarterly check-in, and certainly one in advance of renewal. 

In addition to talking directly to customers, provide ample and educational content about the key functional benefits of your product. Offer regular news updates, to communicate your commitment to innovation in service of their success.
With this kind of communication, you can get customers to keep coming back by showing them the value of using your product and how they can make your product a part of their daily workflow. 

Last but not least, I’d like to recommend social listening – the process of finding and contributing to conversations about your company online by seeking out brand mentions, specific keywords or phrases, and comments. 

By doing these things, you’ll be able to keep tabs on what’s going on in terms of customer satisfaction.

2. Educate Your Customers

Another churn-prevention trick: provide plenty of quality educational or support materials. Try offering free trainings, webinars, video tutorials, and product demos. Do whatever it takes to make your customers feel comfortable and informed. Put simply, you must not only give customers tools that work but also offer training on how to best use these tools. In this way, you’ll also be able to demonstrate the full potential of your product or service.

3. Set realistic expectations

As I mentioned before, failing to deliver on services as promised can result in a very unhappy customer that is at high risk of churning. One of the common practices I have seen across several industries is to over promise and under deliver. Why would a salesperson want to do this? There could be numerous reasons: 

    • They fear they might lose a potential customer
    • They’re facing pressure from their boss
    • They desire to come across as the “deal maker”  
    • They’re desperate to close the deal
    • They’re unwilling to tell the customer what they don’t want to hear

4. Keep a keen eye on competitors

It’s a bad sign when your customers perceive your competition to be better. As you work on reducing customer churn, pay close attention to how your customers might perceive your competitors’ products, and don’t forget to benchmark your overall performance and customer satisfaction against your competitors. 

Lastly, remember, the stakes are higher than ever. It’s time to make smart moves!

Author Bio:
Vikash Kumar works as a manager in the offshore software development company Tatvasoft.com. In his free time, Kumar enjoys writing and exploring new technical trends and topics. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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