How many times have you repurchased from a brand because of their amazing loyalty offerings? In the retail sector, loyalty and rewards programs play an important role in the purchasing decision of customers and the healthcare sector is no different. Healthcare loyalty programs are gaining momentum especially since the spread of COVID-19. In this article, we give you an overview of loyalty in the healthcare sector and lessons and strategies the sector could adopt from the retail industry.
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Loyalty Landscape in the Healthcare Sector
Customer loyalty plays a very important role and has a strong impact on the healthcare sector more than any other industry. When it comes to health and wellbeing, patients tend to rely on institutions and brands they know and trust.
Customer loyalty in the healthcare sector or lack of thereof has a significant impact on revenue as well. 7% -10% of patient attrition results in approximately $100 million loss in revenue, per hospital. The healthcare insurance sector faces a considerably large dearth of loyal customers. A report by Accenture states that “26% of health insurance customers describe themselves as ‘not loyal at all’ to their insurer.” In fact, the health insurance sector is ranked the lowest in the Forrester Customer Index.
That being said, the healthcare industry does have a great scope, especially in the US. The US has the lowest life expectancy and highest chronic disease rate, considering this and other overwhelming statistics, nurturing loyalty among patients can go a long way in building a strong and credible brand. Patients too are expecting healthcare companies and institutions to meet their demands while improving the overall customer experience. A Kaufman Hall survey of 200 hospitals and healthcare executives saw 90% of respondents say improving customer experience was a high priority.
Now, that you understand the importance of fostering loyalty, let’s explore how can the healthcare industry benefit from customer loyalty programs in healthcare.
- Accumulates and Segments Patient’s Data – In 2021, Data is the primary reason, companies and brands adopt loyalty strategies. A healthcare rewards program can give access to valuable data and even help you segment and store it systematically. Data is the key tool for improving marketing and business strategies and understanding patient’s expectations.
- Improves Customer Experience – Once you understand your customers better it becomes easier to satisfy them. Healthcare loyalty programs also significantly improve customer experience. Through a rewards or loyalty program, a patient benefits at every visit and brand interaction (depending on your loyalty strategy) which improves customer satisfaction and subsequently the overall customer experience.
- Gives Customers a Tangible Motive to Choose You- You may provide great service and treatments but so do many other institutions, so why would a customer/ patient choose you? An added incentive or reward is a great way to ensure client retention. Rewarding patients for every association, transaction or visit will positively influence customers to choose your brand, repeatedly.
- Improves Retention Rate – It’s quite simple, a satisfied customer or in this case a satisfied patient is a retained patient. By integrating a healthcare rewards platform, you have not only enhanced the overall customer satisfaction and experience but also provided an added incentive for the patients/ customers to remain loyal to your brand. Retention is much cheaper than acquisition and delivers more profits than acquisition does.
- Increases Referrals – Word-of-mouth marketing is perhaps the strongest marketing strategy. When a customer is happy with a brand or product, they will share their experience with at least their close circle of friends and relatives. With social media platforms becoming the new-age ‘hangout’, customers share their positive and negative experiences of their feeds, influencing the purchase decision of people around them. A healthcare rewards platform will receive immediate hype and improve referrals, bring in more business than usual.
Lessons from Retail
Although loyalty is not a novel concept in the healthcare sector, retail has been the pioneer and champion in harnessing the true potential of loyalty programs. Here are a few lessons from retail, that can be adopted to enhance customer loyalty in healthcare.
- Focusing on customer experience – The retail sector pays great attention to customer experience. The ‘feel-good’ factor plays an important role in the purchase decision of consumers, this is why many brands in retail focus on creating an overall great experience from the beginning and the end of a customer lifecycle. The healthcare industry can take lessons and prioritize the customer experience. It will yield tremendous results in a short span.
- Personalization – Creating a personalized experience for patients is much easier in the healthcare sector, especially with easy access to first-party and second-party data. Personalization can significantly improve the quality of service and customer experience and impact patient retention rate.
- Gamification – Patients with chronic diseases or prolonged sickness, need to routinely visit hospitals for check-ups and tests. By rewarding them for timely check-ups, not missing appointments, or following their ‘diet plant’ to the T; you can use a gamification strategy to keep patients engaged. Gamification can aid in boosting patient interaction and help you improve the retention rate.
The Healthcare sector focuses on wellbeing. Therefore, healthcare loyalty programs need a different approach. Here are some interesting strategies that can enhance the effectiveness of the healthcare rewards platform.
- Ask What They Want – Instead of assuming what kind of rewards or perks your patients might be interested in, you could conduct a quick survey. These surveys will give you great insights and enable you better understand and accordingly reward your patients.
- Provide Educational Resources – Educating your patients is a great way to build credibility. Patients are always looking for reliable sources of information and doing so can help you serve your patients better as well as foster trust.
- Organize Social Gatherings – Patients, especially those with chronic diseases prefer the company of other patients, undergoing a similar ordeal. You can boost engagement by conducting group sessions or social gatherings as a form of reward for loyal patients. This will create affinity towards your brand and improve recall value.
The healthcare sector is diverse and complex. With an experienced loyalty partner like Annex Cloud, you could expand your brand’s reach and successfully implement loyalty strategies that are best suited for your brand and institution. To learn more, connect with Team Annex Cloud.