Q&A: With all eyes on CX, what does it mean for healthcare?

Patients are no different than any other customer, they want options.
07:51 AM

Frank Ciccone, executive director, customer experience and collaboration practice, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, leads a global team of approximately 150 sales individuals tasked with delivering high-value solutions and specialized technical sales, for Verizon’s collaboration and CX services.

Why is it important for healthcare organizations to expand their view of ‘customer experience’ beyond patient care?

Healthcare has historically viewed patients as “care receivers,” but patients not only purchase and consume care and treatment services, they also engage with healthcare organizations across a multitude of touchpoints distinct from their care and treatment. They interact with your scheduling team, your insurance and billing department, your on-site pharmacy, your pastoral care teams, your patient advocacy representatives, your rehab center and your diagnostic services departments, just to name a few. They may call or use other channels to make appointments, find out test results and seek guidance and support for care decisions. If you’re a payer, they’re seeking information about claims, benefits and health resources. They go to your website for directions, hours of operation, contact information, legal forms and clinical information resources. And they increasingly want the ability to do that seamlessly from a mobile device and have that experience customized to them personally. Understanding that your patient is a person first, then a customer and then a care receiver can help you step back and broaden your view of how your patient customers are experiencing your organization across their spectrum of interaction.

What does channel consistency mean and why does it matter to the customer?

According to a recent study published by the Journal of Practice Management, patients cited poor customer service as their number one complaint when interacting with provider organizations, not care or quality of care. Should that surprise us? Poor communication, disorganized and dysfunctioning websites, broken links in emails and on web pages, getting the “run-around” with automated call routing – these are the things that frustrate all customers, but consider the heightened frustration and anxiety this causes for patients and caregivers when seamless support and ready resources are needed most.

Your patients and members are no different than any other customer. They want options. They want the convenience of using your website for information or viewing your resources from their mobile devices. They also want the peace of mind that comes from being able to pick up the phone and quickly (and painlessly) get to the right person or resource when their need is urgent. These channels shouldn’t feel like distant relatives. Your patients need to feel they’re getting the same high level of service regardless of which channel they’re using.

So, how can healthcare organizations improve on their current strategy for addressing customer experience?

The ideal approach is an adaptive customer experience. Using analytics, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and contextual learning to spot common service patterns during customer interactions, can predict a next best action and shape options to meet their preferences. It helps them navigate the simplest route to their destination – whether that’s scheduling an appointment, finding out the results of a diagnostic test, or seeking clinical counseling or treatment advice.

There aren’t too many organizations that can tout a truly adaptive CX experience yet, but innovative businesses and practices are moving rapidly toward that goal. Shifting organizational culture and mindset about your patient as a valued customer must be the first step. If you want to differentiate yourself from other organizations (and healthcare delivery is an increasingly competitive consumer space), the technology is there to make it possible. Great CX depends on having great customer insight.

To make adaptive CX a reality, you need to gather data from all your customer channels. Then you need to analyze it. And to achieve a truly adaptive CX, this all needs to happen in near-real time.

That’s no small feat. How are you going to collect that data? Where will it be stored? And do you have the skills to analyze the volume and variety of data we’re talking about? For most organizations, this is going to mean working with partners that can help them set up an infrastructure to support the collection of data – and that can help them utilize artificial intelligence to gain meaningful insights. It’s also going to mean breaking down internal silos. Every function within your organization has a role to play in delivering a better patient/customer experience.

What is Verizon doing to support healthcare organizations and businesses that want to take the leap into CX differentiation?

We can help you engineer success in every interaction to help you improve your patients’ lives and digital experiences. Some of it is as simple as integrating the interactive tools your customers are familiar with and comfortable using. Mapping the journey to an optimized CX delivery will start with looking at your infrastructure – i.e., improving the agility of your network, upgrading your virtual communication tools, addressing bandwidth limitations with WAN solutions, etc. We can help you

identify the limitations of a more robust website experience with our Web Acceleration and Content Delivery services – optimizing the way digital content and service offerings are delivered to your customers.

Verizon can provide secure omnichannel CX solutions in the cloud and on premises. If you have an existing CX solution, we can monitor that environment to help keep the platforms, tools and applications you have in place up and running efficiently so that your customers have a consistent experience. And with the proliferation of mobile voice traffic, we can provide solutions that turn mobile voice calls into multimedia interactions, which provide seamless transition between mobile and contact center channels, provide pre-authentication to speed up the interaction and enable agents to share visual content, which ultimately provides a more effective service and better experience.

And all of this can be done securely in support of your privacy and security compliance goals.

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