Do you Really Know What your Customers Think?

Do you Really Know What your CustomersBy: David F. Zirkle, PhD

I saw an advertisement the other day for a mobile app that connects consumers with healthcare providers via their smart phones.  The advertisement stated that 90 percent of the conditions seen at emergency departments and urgent care clinics can be diagnosed and treated through the app – including prescriptions automatically sent to the consumer’s preferred pharmacy.  WOW!

That’s when it dawned on me how much healthcare has really changed over the past several years.  That also led me to think that those inside the industry tend to focus on how these changes affect US without giving a lot of thought to the impact on consumers – our customers!

Layer on top of these amazing technology developments all of the other changes going on – healthcare reform, industry consolidation, demographic shifts, etc. – and it’s clear that the healthcare landscape will never be the same again.  To keep pace with the rapidly changing environment, we all need to keep our finger on the pulse of our customers.  What do they think about all that’s going on, and are their needs being met during this period of turmoil and change?

As we’ve discussed before in some of our newsletter articles, surveys are a great way to capture the “voice of the customer.”  We all know that rapid change can create market opportunities, but significant risks and threats can also loom on the horizon as well.  Healthcare presents an incredible number of situations where customer survey studies can help organizations keep pace with the changes.  The following represents just a few examples of how surveys can help you keep in touch with your customers and better understand their needs and what they are thinking:

  • New Services – measures consumer receptivity and likelihood to use new service offerings such as a physician practice, clinic or facility; can also include site location studies as well as brand and name development
  • Customer Need Analysis – explores consumer perceptions regarding quality of care, access barriers and unmet healthcare needs in the community that can lead to new service and program development
  • Market Potential – prioritizes markets based on a number of growth factors such as demographics, competition, market size, payor mix, physician supply, etc. to support expansion efforts
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) – measures customer loyalty and key drivers of satisfaction and dissatisfaction
  • Market Segmentation – determines demographic, psychographic and behavioral characteristics of healthcare consumers to maximize targeting and communication strategies
  • Pricing Research – explores price points and thresholds as cost-conscious consumers begin to purchase more retail healthcare services

Finally, let’s not forget about the other half of the healthcare equation – physicians and other providers.  Capturing the “voice of the physician” to gather insights on how the changing landscape is affecting them is equally important too.  However, let’s save that topic for a future discussion.

To learn more about survey design, please see our recent newsletter article at or contact us at for more information.

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