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Speaker 1: Welcome to the Dr Marketing tips podcast. Your prescription to the answers you seek to grow your medical practice easier, better and faster. This show is all about connecting practice administrators and medical marketing professionals with peers working in practices, learning from experiences, making mistakes and sharing successes. Let’s get started.
Corey: Hey guys, thanks for tuning into another episode of the Dr Marketing Tips podcast. My name is Corey.
Jennifer: And I’m Jennifer.
Corey: And today we wanted to talk about customer service. There was a recent article in The Wall Street Journal talking about how technology is allowing companies, basically to see how badly they can treat customers, right up until the point that they leave.
Jennifer: Yeah, I don’t know if you do this on LinkedIn, Corey, but I do. I get the daily rundown from this. This article was hidden in one of their daily rundowns in the last couple of weeks. And it’s basically saying, at what point are we all going to reach our breaking point, and we’re just going to move on because customer service has gotten so bad.
Jennifer: And so, if you reference The Wall Street Journal Article talking about this way down at the bottom of the article, I think there’s a really great comment or thought that sums up the entire thing, at least for me. And that’s Ewen Duncan from McKinsey and company. He’s a senior partner who consults on customer service. He says, he’s among the folks that say that it’s the perception, not the actual experience that has actually grown worse in the years, and that the social media echo chamber, and the fact that live customer service agents are tackling more complex problems, actually gives us the impression that things are worse than they are.
Jennifer: I do a lot of the training that we do for Insight Training Solutions and we talk a lot about… It’s customer service, but it’s patient experience training. And in all of the modules, we talk about that it’s the perception of the experience that’s more important at this point than the actual experience. And that’s because the patients, when they’re choosing a new healthcare provider are starting online and ending online.
Jennifer: The social media echo chamber as Mr Duncan was explaining, that social media echo chamber is the place that people are going now to share information and to get information. And so, that makes this whole customer service conversation so much more intense, especially when you talk about some of the technologies that are being used to guide us through a new customer journey or a customer journey map, which is taking us either down the route of them saving the account, dropping the account, or trying to like sweet talk us into spending more money.
Corey: Yeah. There’s actually a piece in the article where they talk about how the… One of these software providers can actually determine, essentially who is worth the effort and who you can just drop. Basically if you were to call and you had a complaint, depending on your profile and how your interactions with the company, they may say, “You know what, this this complaint, it’s really not even worth bothering trying to fix, because they don’t spend that much money with us.” Or on the flip side, they could say, “This is a very highly valued patient or customer and we want to keep them, so let’s get them in the right hands.” It’s crazy.
Jennifer: It’s super crazy. And going back to the way The Wall Street Journal was using a story talking about a woman who was struggling with her bill from AT&T. She had spent more than four hours collectively on the phone with AT&T trying to resolve the issue, and she would get passed-
Corey: I feel like I’ve been there.
Jennifer: She would get passed from one place to the next, and it wasn’t until she called Verizon and literally started the process of changing it, did AT&T caved and gave her what it was she was asking for from day one. Now, that’s just an example that got picked up in The Wall Street Journal and that… We’ve all been there just like you said, we’ve all been there. But you and I both remember recently, that I was struggling with one of the major hotel chains where I use a lot of frequent stay points and we use our business credit card and we use that to pay for travel from the company standpoint.
Jennifer: And it came down to… I think I spent a total of… I think it was almost 10 hours over the course of days. And even when I flew across country and arrived, it’s like the left hand still wasn’t speaking to the right hand, but because they had us by the short hairs, I could not jump ship. And I think that there’s something to be said with that, the way that these algorithms are working, they know how much value you actually bring. And if you’re worth the trouble.
Jennifer: I know that some of this doesn’t necessarily apply from a healthcare standpoint, but what does apply is that this whole customer service and new consumerism is changing and it’s something that our practices need to get on board with.
Corey: Well, yeah. You touched on it earlier, where you said, “The patient journey starts and ends online.” Essentially what that means is that if, let’s say for example, you’re an orthopedic provider and there’s not really a referral needed to go see you. What a patient is going to do most likely, is they’re going to check to make sure that you’re in their insurance and then they’re going to hop online, see who’s close to them, and then “who’s the best”.
Corey: How do they determine the best? It’s one Google search. It does sort of matter, to that sense, because what you were saying about perception being reality. If the perception is that you are the best orthopedic provider around them, thanks to a strong online reputation management background, well then that now becomes your patient, and it’s either just that easy or just that difficult.
Jennifer: Yeah, and I think that if you listen to the, I think, it was last week’s podcast where we talked about how revenue correlates with the number of reviews that you have claimed, or the profiles you’ve claimed, or the number of online reviews. It also goes into this week when we’re talking about customer service in general. The fact is your patients, as do all consumers out there, they have a choice on where they’re going to go.
Jennifer: We talked about it a couple of weeks ago on the show, where we’re talking about there’s a level of consumerism in this increased consumerism now and that practices are more and more having to… You can’t do things the way you’ve always done them. You have to look at it from a consumer market.
Jennifer: We’ve got practices, we referenced all the time that are now selling weight loss products, or skincare products, or they have a retail shop, or they’re doing things more in line with retail. They’re doing that because consumers expect a certain experience at this point, and it’s even coming upon healthcare to step up to that experience, because if you’re not doing that, it’s just a couple of clicks away to find somebody that is doing that.
Corey: Real quick, I want to touch on the echo chamber again. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s basically… It’s a description of a situation in which the beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication in repetition inside a closed system. In other words, if you have… Let’s say, you have a hundred friends on Facebook, well they’re probably your friends because they think like you and have similar interests as you do.
Corey: If someone were to post something and complain, odds are since there’s a level of similarity there, everyone else is going to back them up. Then you may see that and say, “Man, that company is really bad.” But they’re not really bad. That’s just what 20 people thought, who are all friends and know each other. It’s just something to be aware of when it comes to this whole perception is reality.
Jennifer: Yeah. When I speak at conferences, medical conferences MGMA, ASOA, AOE, I’m going to speak at Bones this year. My number one topic that I cover is social media customer service. And we talk about the echo chamber there all the time. And I usually draw on my experiences as an elected official growing up in the social media age, because that echo chamber can become so loud.
Jennifer: You think that it’s this terrible storm of going against you, but the reality is if you can walk away from that social media page, or that one area, like Corey said, where it’s all these like minded people, the problem maybe isn’t as bad as it may come across. I think we’re going down a rabbit hole.
Corey: Yeah. One thing I want to talk about in The Wall Street Journal is… Again, just touching back on like some of the software, because I think it’s really interesting. And as of right now it may not apply to a medical practice, but five years from now, 10 years from now, it definitely will. There’s a technology that can track how long a customer will wait for a human to answer the phone and how many ads or messages they’ll tolerate before they just hang up. Odds are at your office, you put people on hold and there’s… You have a loop or something like that, but you have drop calls that way and then you’re missing out on potential patients, because they just don’t want to wait.
Corey: The software can monitor the tone of a customer’s voice. And then customers know what’s… Companies know what steps they must take to keep the shoppers or their customers loyal, and which ones they can skip, which is again, it’s all part of like this whole big data discussion that they can pinpoint what we have to… Ms. Thompson, she’s going to be a little bit more finicky, so we have to provide X, Y, and Z compared to Mr. Joe Smith, who doesn’t really care, so they can skip all that and he’ll be fine. It’s crazy.
Jennifer: I would like to get down to understanding how those profiles work, so that I can game the system, because I am the finicky. I will not… If I know how many times I have to wait to get through to a person, I will do that, because I have been in some major arguments with an automated… With like a bot, and I need to know how that works, Corey. If you don’t mind reaching into that and figuring that out.
Corey: You got it.
Jennifer: There was another study done on… It was a Harvard study that actually analyzed over 400,000 Twitter customer service interactions from 2015 until 2016. Basically what came out of that survey is, responding immediately to these negative kind of customer interactions, is probably not the best way to go about it.
Jennifer: In fact, when you’re looking at hiring people that are specific to customer service jobs, you may think that you just want to hire for people that have those really good soft skills, or that are empathetic, but really you might want to hire someone that’s a little bit more argumentative, and a little bit more able to take control of a conversation, and then teach them the empathy and some of the soft skills that go with it as well. Which I thought that was a really interesting point.
Corey: Yeah, that is, it’s crazy. That’s basically, a complete 180 from what you would think and what most people hire for, especially in a customer service role.
Jennifer: Absolutely. And it also reinforces to me… Side note here, that I feel as if moving into the training side of our business, that we are starting to see more and more of an uptake in medical practices that are interested in providing that customer service level training, and the education of the soft skills. Especially as the baby boomers are retiring, or going on reduced hours, and they’re hiring more and more millennials that are going into leadership positions. The soft skills are now becoming more and more important, which reinforces why customer service is a topic of choice these days.
Corey: Well we see it all the time, in all of the reports and the SAS and things that we read, that millennials and Gen Z, they’re more educated and they have just sort of growing up with a phone in your hands, and the world at your fingertips, essentially. They know what they want. And so, they may or may not be as patient as some older generations, because they can just say, “Well, I’ll just go somewhere else.”.
Jennifer: That’s right. And if you think that millennials are turning 40 this year, that-
Corey: That’s crazy.
Jennifer: On the higher end, but millennials are turning 40 this year and right when you start.. When you’re in the forties, you start needing to go to the doctor a little bit more. And so I think that there’s something to be said about really starting to pay attention to customer service and to patient experience as those more educated or, as you say, people that have grown up with the phone in their hands where they’ve got information at their fingertips. It’s a totally different approach than what it used to be.
Corey: I thought there was a one interesting thing in here about happy customers. The best industry for customer satisfaction, you want to warrant a guess as what it is?
Corey: It’s breweries.
Jennifer: But yeah, I’s be good with that. I’m happy.
Corey: Because of course you’re happy when you’re at a brewery.
Jennifer: I’d be happy.
Corey: Number two is television and video player, three is personal care and cleaning products, four, automobiles, which I thought was surprising, because again, echo chamber.
Jennifer: The sale side is negative, but maybe not. Yeah, echo chamber.
Corey: Then five, soft drinks.
Jennifer: Does healthcare even make it to the list?
Corey: They are not in the top five, nor the bottom five.
Jennifer: Why the hell would you need to call a soft drink maker and deal with customers? Like what kind of customer service are you dealing with?
Corey: I think if you’re calling Coca-Cola about them, you’re drinking too much Coca-Cola.
Jennifer: Yeah. The ones that are ranked, are they service based or product based?
Corey: It’s a mix. It’s a mix.
Jennifer: That’s interesting. Why would you ever call a product based?
Corey: Yeah, and bottom five is exactly what you would think. It’s a subscription, television service. Everyone always gives out about this.
Jennifer: Airlines, television. I would say airlines, telephone.
Corey: Internet service.
Jennifer: Internet, yeah.
Corey: Yeah. Social media, when you actually can’t get a hold of anybody and you have to go through the chats and the bots and everything. Yeah. Interesting stuff.
Jennifer: Yeah. Really interesting stuff. Let’s go ahead and land the plane right now before we get complaints on our customer service. With that, I’m Jennifer.
Corey: I’m Corey.
Jennifer: We’ll see you next time on the Dr Marketing Tips podcast. Thanks a bunch.
Corey: Thanks guys.
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