Sometime in the not too distant future, we may see things get back to a “near normal” and medical travel may even see some regrowth. So, what practical action can your team take now with all that free time to ensure that you get back to business, on a fast track to recovery?
Perhaps you have given some time to rethink your marketing strategy?
If you’re in the low acuity, low cost sector of the market such as dentistry or cosmetic surgery, then it’s a good time to think about:
- Who are our customers?
- How can we best meet their needs?
- What’s the most effective way to get our message across (and what should that message be?)
To keep this article focused, I’m going to look just at cosmetic surgery, and just at how you can better understand your customers and their needs. The lessons apply to whatever medical travel niche you are involved in.
What do your customers actually think?
I don’t mean what did they say on the patient satisfaction questionnaire that you asked them to fill in (I assume that you routinely monitor patient satisfaction?). I mean, what did they really think about their experience of your hospital or clinic, in their own words?
Why not give them a phone call? Or even better, ask them to join a Zoom call to follow up on their treatment at your facility. Clinics are notoriously poor at following up their past patients, so in this quiet time, now is your chance. They’ll (hopefully!) be pleased to hear from you and probably more than willing to spare 20 minutes or so to share their thoughts. Email your last 100 patients and invite them to sign up for a call.
Let’s say 50 agree. Set aside a couple of days to schedule the calls and plan a standard question structure for use in the calls. Ideally, use Zoom or similar, and ask permission to record the call, so that you can listen again afterwards to interpret the customer’s responses and share them with your colleagues.
After you’ve gained some more general feedback on how they are feeling post-treatment, here are some suggestions for the questions:
- Why did you choose our clinic?
- What other clinics did you consider?
- Why did you choose our clinic rather than others?
- What was the biggest influence on your decision to come to our clinic?
These three questions will give you some insight into your competitive advantage, your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) or your UCP (Unique Customer Proposition) – as perceived by your customers. It may be different to what you think it is.
Then try these questions:
- How do you feel now, having had your treatment/surgery?
- How would you describe your experience at our clinic… in three words?
- What did we do really well?
- What three things can we do better?
After each question, ask the customer to expand on their answer. “Tell me more?” “Can you expand on that?” These questions will help you to understand whether you met the customer’s expectations and whether you met their needs.
What to do with the feedback?
Share the feedback with your team. Play back some of the interviews. Get your team’s view. Did the responses surprise them? Did the customers come up with some ideas that you can put into practice? What can you change to deliver an enhanced customer experience? How might the customer feedback change the way that you think about your competitive advantage and why customers should choose your clinic or service?
Here are a few promotional messages that feature on clinic web sites aiming to attract cosmetic surgery travellers:
- “the highest level of plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery”
- “the clinic of choice”
- “the most cutting-edge procedures”
- “Safe treatments. Long tradition”
Do any of these offer customer benefits or meet customer’s needs and wants? Do any of these highlight the clinic’s real competitive advantage? Where is the customer promise?
Think about the key messages that you use to promote your clinic. How can what you’ve learnt from your customer research be applied to your marketing? Should you be saying something differently?
Above all, what can you say that really expresses your USP or UCP? Invest some time now in reviewing your marketing approach and it will pay dividends when the medical travel sector begins its recovery.