At the HMPS Virtual Summit this year, Jay Baer’s keynote definitely got my attention. The disruption of COVID-19 has created a unique market opportunity in the healthcare industry. And if there was any single take away from HMPS20 this year it was: don’t waste it. Because as Baer said, “The next five months will dictate the next five years.” And a key to winning customers and improving the patient experience starts with building trust and improving the employee experience.
“This may, in fact, be the greatest opportunity to increase market share since the Internet was invented.”
That’s a lot of pressure, right? But he’s right that there is so much opportunity in disruption. Disruption opens the door for change at our organizations and, in many cases, the unique opportunity to go to executive leadership with new solutions, tools, and strategies to rise to the occasion and get results.
But how do you take advantage of the current market? Jay Baer shared that since the pandemic began, 60% of customers have used a business for the first time. And of that 60%, 89% are likely to stick with that provider going forward.
For Jay, it came down to three main steps healthcare organizations need to take to earn back the trust of their customers:
At theEMPLOYEEapp, we completely agree with these tactics. But for us, we also think that winning in the marketplace sometimes has to start internally. So, we have our own list of four internal communication changes that you need to make:
1. Build trust. This is a best practice in both internal and external communication. When your employees trust you (the organization), their manager, and their team, retention goes up. Productivity goes up. You get more and better feedback. You build a stronger culture. The list goes on. And when you have happier employees who trust in your organization, they’re going to create a better experience for your customers. And we know that the trick to improving the patient experience sometimes starts with improving the employee experience first.
2. Improve Access. Unfortunately, so many organizations use communication tools that were designed for office or desk-bound employees. Most field-based employees don’t have a business email, don’t have access to a computer, or can’t get around a VPN. There’s a resources issue. And I know that during a pandemic doesn’t always feel like the right time to invest in something new, it’s actually the right time. Disruption opens the door for change. CEO of Brilliant Ink, Ann Melinger, shared on a webinar at the height of the pandemic, “Now is the time to actually think about [changes]…this is actually not the time to stop. It is the time to really think about how this [crisis] is real, this can happen, and is our company prepared to manage this going forward?” And more than ever, your teams need information to do their jobs and feel safe (which will help you earn their trust!).
3. Choose the right messenger. Jay’s idea to change the messenger is brilliant for building trust back with a community shaken by the pandemic. But in internal communication it can be just as important to pick the right messenger (and medium for the message). And it really comes down to increasing leadership visibility and transparency. Your executive leaders can no longer rely on internal comms to ghost-write for them or to hide behind an email. They need to step into the spotlight and share messages from the start and really lead by example through these difficult times. Marissa Green, Director of [title] at Jazz Pharmaceuticals shared an example on a recent EMPLOYEEapp webinar. Her CEO received a lot of direct feedback from their employees asking for more transparency and he listened and immediately got behind the camera to start updating his teams. But this change in leadership communication strategy shouldn’t just be a crisis response—this needs to be a new way of leading and communicating as we head into the future. (Funny how all of this comes back to trust).
4. Get feedback. If I had a single tip for any internal communicator, regardless of whether we’re in crisis mode or not, it would be to get your employees’ feedback. Get feedback from your data, get it from focus groups, and survey your people. And then use that to inform decisions. Nothing squashes an engaged employee’s spirit more than not feeling heard, and therefore, cared about. And more than ever, you need your employees on board to help you close the uncertainty cap, change the messenger (and message), and build an empathy engine for your customers.
There are many other changes that your organization might need to make in the current climate, but we really believe that it comes down to trust for your external and internal customers. We’ve all been through a lot this year, so it’s critical not to assume anything. Keep your employees at the center of your strategy and give them the support they need to support your customers.
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