Creating Relationship Value: Do You Treat All of Your Customers the Same? (Part 1 of 5)

Another way of talking about how you treat your customers is to discuss which market segment they represent or what customer profile they best fit into. But I am getting ahead of myself. The central issue is that not all of your customers/patients are the same. They have different needs. If you respond to their specific needs, you will be creating a stronger relationship with them. This is true in the outreach you do and the manner in which you treat that customer/patient when they come to your practice or enter your hospital.

By creating customer profiles or segmenting your overall market, you can reach out to customers on a more targeted, more needs-based approach. Doing this saves you the expense of using unnecessary resources and reduces the annoyance a customer might feel for having non-relevant outreach directed to them.

We have all heard the wisdom that 80% of your profits are likely generated by 20% of your customers. This nugget has to be followed up with these questions – which customers drive my profits? Are there common factors? Who are my competitors targeting? How can I best deliver my services to meet specific customer’s needs?

Retailers, banks and large organizations use sophisticated systems and programs to help identify and segment their best customers so they can provide better service and deepen profit and prospective profits. Healthcare organizations, likewise, can enhance their marketing and their service delivery by creating specific customer targets based on demographics, behaviors, and most especially — needs.

Every organization is different with varied resources, so the segmentation process will vary based on the organization, but the first analytical pass should be generated by identifying patients that are the most profitable. If you do this based on service line, you may miss important factors, so the best manner is to cull data from all of your data repositories (patient data, financial data, marketing data, etc.) across all services.

Your profit segmentation analysis may reveal which group stands out. This is good information to have but don’t stop there. Think about your patients’ needs. The 40 – 55 year old woman may have a higher interest in peri-menopause issues, nutrition and adolescent medicine if she is married and with children. If she is not married, her interests will skew away from adolescent issues and have more focus on female-only topics. You might segment your customers based on gender, age, marital status and payer.

The more you know about your customer’s needs the more direct your approach and the more value added to developing the relationship. If a local hospital sends a new mother a wonderful flyer on wound-care or elder services, they will be missing their target. Reaching out to a 56 year-old-male about prostate concerns might find a more receptive audience. The more you can do for your patient, prospective patient, the stronger the relationship will be and the more relevant your organization becomes.

The smaller the segment, the better targeting of their needs, leading to increased customer value. The segmentation process needs to be balanced with the organization’s resources. A moderate-sized medical practice may have four or five segments early on while a hospital might have several more. As time moves on, the segmentation profiling will alter because the process is fluid and “refinable” and people’s needs change. Start slowly and refine as you go along and as more data allows more refinement.

Action steps – in a nutshell:

  1. Integrate your data sources.
  2. Identify your most profitable patients.
  3. Identify habits, behaviors, demographics or needs that you want to focus on.
  4. Create profiles of these market segments.
  5. Determine how you can best meet the needs of a segment.
  6. Reach out and deliver your service based on the segment needs.
  7. Assess and refine your segments.
  8. Assess and refine your marketing outreach and service delivery based on feedback and data.

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