The Most Valuable Hospital Asset is Lifetime Customer Loyalty (Part 3 of 4)
By Sharon Bittner, Chief Communications Officer
In this post-reform healthcare environment, customers have both freedom and responsibility when it comes to making service and spend decisions. As a result, hospital success depends on strategies focused on customer acquisition and satisfaction that have long been prevalent in other industries.
In a previous post entitled Hospital Customer Engagement is Easy as 1-2-3, I raised the point that by simply viewing the customer as an asset – and recognizing and leveraging the three stages of the relationship – hospitals can target new customers more accurately, gather intelligence more effectively, and manage relationships more profitably.
The purpose of this post is to dive deeper into the process of monetizing customer assets, by creating loyal customers for life.
So how can hospitals create lifetime loyalty? By creating lasting relationships with customers. By recognizing that customers are more than just assets. They are people. They are fellow human beings who crave to be appreciated, validated, encouraged, helped, listened to, and treated fairly. Therefore, the emotional bonds that are cultivated with customers are the truly valuable assets. Why? The principle of reciprocity. Most of us are brought up to return good for good, bad for bad. When people are good to us, we feel compelled to be good to them. A positive experience is rewarded with a positive response.
Hospitals need to embrace the fact that exemplary care is only part of a positive patient experience. According to Gallup, what all customers – and patients – want is the fulfillment of 4 psychological elements:
- Confidence – Trusting the hospital to deliver on its promises.
- Integrity – Being treated fairly and having challenges resolved.
- Pride – Rewarding the hospital with their business reflects positively on them.
- Passion – Believing the hospital is irreplaceable and integral to their lives.
Based on a foundation of these proven relationship principles, lifetime patient loyalty truly develops once patients begin to actively manage their health with practical education and actionable tools provided by hospitals – such as our Relevate Health Group Solutions. And even the smallest swing in the volume and type of hospital admissions that result can mean the difference between a year of growth and a year of zero profits. Patient education and health-management programs can be this difference-maker.
The average annual return for hospitals and health systems that utilize our Relevate Health Group Solutions is reported at $10.7 million in gross revenue ($6,280 per patient). Imagine that return year after year.
There is plenty of room for interpretation – but no argument against the premise that hospitals benefit from the loyalty of its patients, their families, and caregivers.
Maybe you only capture half or a quarter of this value – depending on age, location, competition. But the long-term value of a single loyal patient over time is enormous.
What are you doing to build and measure lifetime customer loyalty?