by Toby Trygg
Part Four –
Ugh, friction. It’s everywhere you look these days. From the important topics: sociopolitical unrest happening in the streets between warring factions of ideology, to the trivial: debates over whether a certain online photo of a dress was this color or that. But when we talk about friction as it relates to what we do as healthcare marketers, it’s a bird of an entirely different feather.
I welcome you back, dear reader, to the last of what might by now seem like an interminable series of blog posts about friction along the healthcare marketing continuum and what we as marketers must do to define, identify, and ultimately overcome it. With the litany of parity product and service offerings in the healthcare market today, overcoming friction is paramount to reaching and exceeding sales targets. Heretofore, we have learned how to Define Friction, how Discovery Friction impacts a consumer’s initial experience and interaction with a brand or offering, and the myriad ways in which Transactional Friction can doom a possible conversion.
By now you might be asking yourself if the Sisyphean task of overcoming and solving friction is even worth undertaking. I am here to tell you that it is, but it’s not for the faint of heart. After you have defined the friction points along your consumer’s journey, you can apply these tips and tricks to grease the pathway to a smooth transaction and perhaps even reach the ultimate goal: creating brand advocates. The following are what I recommend as some simple (and not so simple) steps you can take on a personal as well as an organizational level to reduce friction in 2020.
FIRST, UNDERSTAND YOUR CUSTOMERS’ PAIN POINTS:
Brands are most successful when they add value to their stakeholders’ lives. Learn as much as you can about your target customer, patient, caregiver, and HCP. Think like an anthropologist and listen more than you talk.
TRACK AND TEST EVERYTHING:
A common marketing myth is that branding isn’t measurable. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, you should always be running A/B tests to challenge your assumptions. The truth is that you’ll never know where your points of friction are unless you’re constantly researching your customers’ pain points. Even Google Analytics can be misleading. For instance, you might see that users are spending 5 to 10 minutes on your website. “Yay, that’s high user engagement!” Er, not so fast. It could also be that your customers are thoroughly confused. A/B tests will help you extrapolate patterns, pinpoint friction, and alleviate pain points that are causing blockages in your conversion funnel. Always be testing and challenging your assumptions. A/B testing and qualitative research should be ongoing processes for your business. Always.
LET YOUR SUCCESSES SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES:
One way to ease your consumers’ fears is to pave a path with the footsteps of those who have been there before. Customer reviews and testimonials add credibility to your assertion that what you’re selling is legit. Here’s why: today’s consumer is totally self-directed. By the time they arrive at your website, point of care, or point of purchase, they’re already in the mindset of wanting to buy. By the time they actually reach out to a sales rep or complete a lead generation form, they’re ready to buy.
TRAIN YOUR PEEPS:
No matter where technology takes us, human interaction will always be necessary and will control the tone of every transaction and the consumer’s perception of a company, brand, product, or service. Customers want to feel heard and understood, and have their questions answered by knowledgeable, empathetic representatives.
EMPOWER THOSE PEEPS:
When every little decision has to be directed up the food chain, customers will wait longer for their problems to be solved. If you grant your front-line employees the power to make decisions in the customer’s best interest, you will reduce friction along their buying journey and create happy, stress-free consumers.
ANSWER QUESTIONS BEFORE THEY ARE ASKED:
Establishing and maintaining good communication during the buying journey instills trust in your company, product, or service. This can include immediate responses about items purchased or services provided, real-time notifications of steps along shipping routes, and follow-up conversations to ensure that customers are satisfied with their experience.
Position FAQs in a prominent place on your website so customers don’t have to go searching for answers, and provide multiple ways for them to interact with a human if they can’t find their answer.
KEEP ’EM COMING BACK:
Finally, when the relationship ends after the transaction is complete, customers can sometimes feel used and discarded, causing them to take their business elsewhere the next time the need arises. However, if you establish a relationship with your customers and maintain that relationship well after their credit card has gone back into a wallet or the consumer or patient has left the point of care, you will see repeat business and referrals.
In summary, these are just a few of the myriad ways you, your company, and your brand can begin to eliminate friction. Taking these steps will not only greatly benefit your business in the short term, but will also begin to help build long-term legitimacy and relationships crucial to future success.
Win and Win. Ka and ching.
Interested in learning more about designing for optimal customer experience in healthcare? Check out our POV on how electronic health records are improving in-office engagements for patients and HCPs.