Healthcare providers are placing more emphasis on care than ever before. That means they’re shifting to a new paradigm for service interaction that doesn’t only focus on providing patient care. But this now also aims to deliver a superior customer experience (CX).  

This runs from digitally onboarding new patients to providing alternative healthcare delivery methods, such as telemedicine, to enabling self-care options. In all, healthcare companies are continually adding ways to improve CX and business outcomes. 

Three major trends have contributed to this experience-centric shift. Digital interactions are reshaping patient and provider interactions. AI, data and cloud are enabling healthcare companies to provide more personalised and empathetic experiences. CX workforce management challenges in healthcare are driving the need for new approaches to engaging customer-facing service staff. 

The Genesys ‘State of Customer Experience’ report includes insights from 2,629 consumers and 690 CX executives across industries globally. Findings from this report provide insight into these key trends: 

Digital interactions are reshaping patient and provider experiences 

The healthcare industry has been managing especially high volumes of patient interactions over the past few years. Voice remains the leading customer interaction channel for healthcare businesses. Emails follow up at a close second.  

But patients have increased their use of web chat, video calling and messaging. Video calling is slightly more prevalent in healthcare than in other industries, while chatbots are used less frequently. One-third of the surveyed healthcare leaders said managing this increased interaction volume and channel complexity is a leading CX challenge for their organisations. 

Despite these challenges, respondents are especially confident that their voice and email channels are meeting patients’ expectations. 60% considered video calling to be highly effective.  

Just one-third consider their chatbots to have met their expectations. Additionally, less than one-third of healthcare executives said their company is significantly reducing customer effort. 

The fix? Focus on the customer journey 

Consumers are comfortable using a wide array of digital service channels. The more mature email and voice channels still top the list for frequency of use. However, digital channels have gained traction and permanent adoption.  

Healthcare providers must ensure that those communication channels meet customer expectations to benefit from resulting efficiencies such as increased self-service and fewer voice interactions.  

One way to enhance the customer experience is using AI-based conversational bots to gather intent and streamline CX processes. For example, leveraging the patient’s profile to prefill forms and demonstrate a level of understanding as the bot enters a conversation. It can also include the bot transferring data to the contact centre if an interaction requires escalation. 

AI, data and cloud are enabling notable healthcare CX improvements 

AI technology and data platforms are facilitating a shift in care. In turn, this is empowering patients to take charge of their own health.  

Healthcare providers recognise the potential for AI and data to generate significant ROI. The primary CX priority for healthcare companies in 2021 was using data and AI for customer understanding and personalisation.  

These organisations are actively seeking to develop more connected patient experiences. Breaking down silos and gaining better data visibility will drive better health outcomes, decrease costs and increase profitability.  

A leading trend for healthcare companies is to migrate CX technology to the cloud. 65% of CX leaders at healthcare companies report easier access to information after moving their data to the cloud. 54% cite enhanced reporting and analytics. Just under half report increased disaster recovery as other key benefits of cloud technology.  

The healthcare industry’s focus on data and AI is much needed, as personalisation is lagging. Just a third of healthcare respondents said their organisation delivers a highly personalised customer experience. This is compared to 44% of companies overall.  

The fix? Use technology to listen and understand 

The best way for any organisation to provide empathetic experiences is to know their customers’ expectations, needs and preferences. This requires improving listening channels for implicit voice of the customer. Whether it’s using digital engagement to understand intent, real-time analysis or AI across digital channels to gather insights.  

Additionally, healthcare companies can implement AI to improve service via voice channels. This is through natural language processing, speech to text and sentiment analysis. Organisations that provide more personalised experiences using these technologies will see notable benefits. 80% of survey respondents say they will recommend and buy more, more often, from brands that consistently personalise their interactions. 

Workforce expectations are driving a focus on employee experience 

Today, healthcare providers are expected to provide accurate medical information with speed, security and empathy. Agent-assisted service interactions play a critical role in creating positive patient experiences when attempting to meet these expectations.  

But staffing has been a huge issue for healthcare organisations the past few years. An uptick in interaction volume and added stress have resulted in higher-than-average turnover.  

At the same time, almost two-thirds of healthcare respondents reported the number of seats in their contact centres increased in 2021. 71% said this growth will continue in 2022.  

Complementing that growth is a focus on employees. Workforce training and engagement is a top-three priority for a third of organisations. Healthcare organizations look to build out features and capabilities to improve both the patient and employee experience. 66% cited quality management and workforce optimisation tools as being highly valuable.  

The fix? Empower your representatives 

Among the capabilities considered most valuable are those that empower employees to provide better service. They include agent-assistance technology to provide knowledge, coaching and real-time prompts. Quality management and workforce optimisation tools can help identify training needs, give staff deeper insights into their own performances, and help managers improve and streamline processes. Overall, this will provide agents with a better work experience. 

Adopting the experience-centric practices underlying these trends does more than improve the experience for patients and employees. Healthcare companies following these trends also benefit. They gain a healthy dose of patient and employee engagement and loyalty. 

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