Most people think branding reflects how easily people remember your company’s name or the impact of a pleasing logo and appealing color palette making your organization stand out. However, branding is so much more. Branding is about your reputation and about what your customers think when they see your logo and your name. In fact, your brand represents the very promise you make to your patients. Your brand is the value you place in your relationship with them. It is the sum of their experiences every time they come in and receive your services. A brand is not as static as a logo maybe. Your reputation grows, shrinks and evolves over time for as long as you are in business. Therefore, reputation needs to be nurtured regularly and actively.
From a historical perspective, the family doctor was part of the extended family circle. Their relationship with that family was multi-generational. This was a relationship built on trust, familiarity, and loyalty, earned over years of interactions. There was a more widespread culture of deference and a certain mystique about the figure of the medical professional. In addition, the healthcare system controlled much of the patient’s experience by telling patients where to go, what to expect and who to see.
This model is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The advent of technology, the availability of information, and the multitude of services available to patients has accelerated the pace of change. Patients today have a wide range of options at their fingertips and play an active role in managing their health. The healthcare industry has shifted to become much more consumer-focused. One of the major factors driving this shift, technology notwithstanding, is the needs and motivation of the nation’s largest and most influential generation of consumers – the millennials – people 22-37 years old.
This generation makes up over 30% of American consumers, a generation 80 million strong according to the Census Bureau. Millennials are quintessential hands-on customers driven by a need for speedy service, on-demand information availability and excellent patient experience. With older millennials coming of age and taking responsibility for their own health, they are the largest growing patient population today. Their opinions and needs will be driving business in the healthcare field for the next 30 years.
Millennials are technology-savvy, avid internet users, who expect fast and accurate communication and value social media feeds. They constantly connect to their digital platforms. They expect information delivered in a speedy manner using digital formats such as texts, notifications, and apps. Millennials check their email frequently. To keep them as customers you must provide quick and accurate answers to their questions. Let them down and they will be fast at switching their allegiance to your competition.
Millennials are also sophisticated users that fact-check and verify the credibility of the information they are getting. They are sure to be consulting sources on the internet to obtain additional knowledge and value the opinion of their social media connections. Millennials value quality and straight-forwardness. They also value their time. Most will not take kindly having to wait for information, encountering rude behavior or being fed lies.
Above all, millennials care about their patient experience. They evaluate every interaction they have with your healthcare organization, either in person or online. Their social media network is wide. Therefore, negative impressions about your company will travel fast. In fact, millennials are likely to quickly share their experiences with their peers. Therefore, delivering an exceptionally positive patient experience must be a priority focus of your practice. This service will build a lasting relationship while boosting your reputation.
If you want to stay competitive in a market that caters to millennials, you must develop high-quality and relevant content that answers your patients’ medical questions on the online platforms they are most likely to use. Emphasize high-impact infographics or short videos that deliver content-rich information. Millennials value living healthy as a lifestyle choice. To cater to this need, engage them with health education content or provide savvy tips to healthy living. Interact with them on social media where they can connect you with other potential patients. Provide answers to important health questions while strengthening your brand recognition.
Your website should be engaging, easy to navigate, fast-loading, and full of patient-focused content. Make it easy to schedule appointments online and provide downloadable apps for this purpose. Offer telehealth video appointments whenever possible, and provide customer service chatbots for quick question-and-answer sessions.
As patients, millennials meaningfully engage in making decisions about their health and want to be given options. They value technology and are going to be at ease with electronic health records (EHR). Millennials easily engage with any tool designed to better track their symptoms and medical progress, and to integrate different aspects of their care in a seamless way.
Ultimately, engage with millennials in an honest, informational and communication-rich manner. Be proactive about their needs and let them be an integral part of the choices available for their care. If you build their trust and respect they will be your best advocate with their network of friends. They will certainly be happy to give you excellent reviews online, a habit they are keen to engage in as the online generation.
Millennials are quick to spot problems within your organization. They value honesty and want to find out what your organizational values are. They want to identify with your mission and want to know you are genuine. Because they are bombarded with false advertising and inundated with spam emails, they do not have the patience for disingenuous behavior and rudeness. They want to see the true face of your company. Therefore, they will be paying attention to every interaction they have with your staff, with your content and with your quality of care.
Therefore, your branding will fail to resonate with millennials if your staff and providers are not genuinely embodying the values and qualities your visual and online presence conveys. Although they are active online, millennials are keen on personal interactions when they engage face-to-face. Your company culture will be certainly evaluated at the reception, during medical consultations, at events, and wherever your brand is present.
Ensure your entire organization is aware of your branding initiatives and encourage buy-in from top-down by reminding everyone what your brand looks like on a day-to-day basis, what body language and mannerisms it promotes, and how it fulfills the promises made to patients. As more and more people switch to “buying healthcare” based on customer experience and convenience, it is more important than ever that healthcare organizations deliberately design quality-focused patient experiences.
If your healthcare organization is struggling to keep up with emerging healthcare marketing trends, get in touch with us. At John Lynch & Associates, we help organizations by advancing healthcare and strengthening your organization to thrive now and into the future.
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