What does the prescription for better healthcare include? A healthy dose of improved customer service, say consumers. Once an industry where patients and customers felt they had little say or control, a more competitive healthcare landscape and the rise of very public customer service and engagement channels such as social media and communities are increasing both empowerment and expectations for healthcare consumers. And in exchange for better service and an improved customer experience, satisfied patients and customers are providing both loyalty and advocacy. A Prescription for Change But, the $2.8 trillion industry has a way to go when it comes to capitalizing on customer experience. According to a recent Strategy& survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers featured in the report The Birth of the Healthcare Consumer: Growing Demands for Choice, Engagement and Experience, less than half (49%) say they are satisfied with their current healthcare customer experience. A lot of this revolves around digital transformation, where younger patients and customers are increasingly expecting healthcare to work the same as other industries like retail, with more options and more information available online, from forms to fitness tips. According to the same Strategy& survey referenced above, simplicity of service and trusted advice from a healthcare provider or healthcare-related brand account for almost 60% of what drives customer satisfaction and loyalty. This goes along with a recent finding from Forrester Research that says customers want to be empowered with more answers and information online. In her recent blog, Customer Service Channel Usage Highlights The Importance Of Good Self-Service, Forrester Research analyst Kate Leggett notes that for the first time in the history of Forrester’s customer service channel usage survey, respondents are using the self-service FAQ pages on a company’s website more often than speaking with a customer care agent on the phone. According to the survey, self-service channel usage has increased from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014, while phone usage has remained the same at 73% (Tweet this stat). Providing the right resources on a website/support portal not only deflects a great number of questions from high-cost, high-interaction channels such as phone and email, but also has a significant effect on customer satisfaction from greater service simplicity, as well the increased perception of the brand or provider as a trusted source of healthcare advice and information. A Positive PrognosisThere is so much potential for all healthcare providers and related brands to use customer service and customer experience as a differentiator from: reducing the frustration of finding forms and information by putting them online creating a more seamless experience across all the touchpoints a patient or consumer encounters using information and feedback to create a more personalized customer experience to using predictive analytics to proactively reach out with advice, health and fitness tips and patient/customer reminders. Healthcare providers and related brands can start their customer service and experience improvement by empowering both employees and customers with greater access to and more consistent knowledge, working from there to create a business and brand differentiator based on a customer-focused culture and forward-thinking customer experience.With some major adjustments in its current routine, the prognosis for customer service and experience in the healthcare industry appears bright. -----------------------------------Watch the Webinar: The Role of Customer Service in Healthcare In a February 25th webinar, learn how healthcare organizations are gearing up to capitalize with investments in customer service to better connect to the next generation of patients and customers. See how a responsive organization tackles delivery of information so customer care agents can put their best foot forward in important “moments of truth” interactions. Learn important techniques to help mobilize your department or enterprise around enacting changes that are measureable and that make a difference in the eyes of the healthcare consumer.