The Future of In Home Care – October Article
Article Six, October 2018
The Future of In Home Care – Integrated Care beyond 2020
Written by Ilsa Bird – Sector Support Coordinator, Your Side
What does customer centricity look like in aged care?
Choice drives consumer buying behaviours, however our consumers place more value on customer centricity than price. According to KPMG, 85% of aged care consumers are willing to pay 25% extra for excellent customer service. Right now, customer centricity is more important to the sector than ever before. CDC is driving a market-based environment and expectations will extend beyond service provision and good customer service. The customer experience that an organisation delivers will determine the choices that a consumer makes e.g. choosing another provider or recommending your services. Providers must prioritise customer centricity in every area of the organisation. Below our industry expert George Bej discusses how providers can do customer centricity well to remain viable in the changing market.
What is customer centricity?
Customer centricity is more than just good customer service, it incorporates principles that are embedded into the organisation’s core. According to George Bej from Strativity, customer-centric organisations have three things in common:
- They listen to their customers. Great customer-centric providers don’t rely on the annual customer satisfaction or NPS survey, they listen to their customers every day. They have formal and informal listening posts; well-designed voice of customer programs that focus on root cause analysis and not just symptoms; regular customer forums and co-design sessions; clear and prioritised pain point removal initiatives. Most importantly, these cultures revolve around every employee having the customer’s perspective in mind all the time.
- They have customer-centric leadership. Customer-centric leaders define who the customer is and understand their needs and motivations (across key segments); understand the current experience being delivered (across key journeys); define the experience they want to deliver (in detail for key journeys and across channels); understand the value | economics of customer experience and use this to optimise investment and prioritise improvement; ask customer impact questions prior to making decisions; empower their employees to deliver the target state experience in a servant leadership model.
- They innovate with the focus on the customer. This is about creating an organisational ecosystem which anticipates customer needs (even the ones that the customer hasn’t articulated yet) and consistently designs solutions to provide more customer choice, avoid historical pain points and simultaneously create memorable and differentiated experiences.
Customer centricity is not optional. It must infiltrate all departments in an organisation and requires board-level support to be successful. Time, effort and money must be allocated to brand and customer experience initiatives, Bej states.
Customer centricity has benefits for both providers and consumers which are outlined by Bej in the table below. If consumers have a positive customer experience than this will benefit providers with loyalty, lead generation and increased revenue.
Investing in customer experience requires providers to define the desired outcome or experience, match it with market position and growth strategy and maximise its economic value (see the model below). For example, economic value is maximised when consumer expectations and experience are aligned. Economic value is lost when experience does not meet consumer expectations as this results in lost revenue. The level of due diligence required for investment in customer experience should be equal to any other investment e.g. utilise metrics to address gaps and justify investment.
How can providers evaluate customer experience?
Firstly, it is important to build the loyalty of your current consumer base not only by delivering services but also by doing it in a way that is profitable and efficient. Providers should regularly review the customer experience process by mapping the customer journey. MAC outlines the Home Care Customer Journey here, which can be used to begin a customer journey map (see figure below)
Secondly, data collection and customer feedback are key tools to inform customer experience. Below Bej outlines three key phases of a comprehensive and well-designed Voice of Customer (customer listening) program which captures customer’s expectations, preferences and aversions.
The evaluative process does not need to be complicated or expensive, however should identify issues and areas of improvement that drives change. Bej states that the key to feedback is frequency e.g. touch-point surveying, to gain real-time insights that can be acted upon. According to Bej, providers should focus on moments that matter such as:
- Initial enquiry
- Conversion from prospect to customer
- Confirmation of satisfaction with tasks completed
- Scheduling and personnel changes
How does customer centricity inform strategic direction?
A customer-centric organisation understands that services and offerings will be influenced by the changing preferences and needs of consumers. Providers must adapt and plan accordingly. Bej states that providers can address this by balancing their focus between front-stage enhancement and backstage enablement over a 2-3 transformation. A transition must take place from an initial emphasis on pain point removal and experience improvement, to an increased focus on organisational capability development and insight led innovation, Bej states. See the model below:
For more information regarding strategic direction, please see our September article on Governance and Leadership.
How can providers build a customer-centric workforce?
Building a customer-centric workforce should be a priority for providers. Bej states that Whilst adopting a strategic approach and defining an aspirational experience is important, many organisations would gain more value through addressing the deeply held beliefs, cynical voices, fears and issues of staff that have inhibited change to date. Bej recommends the following steps to assess what may be holding an organisation back:
Step one – interview key stakeholders in confidential focus groups with representative employees and initiate large sample set quantitative research
Step two – discuss, probe, analyse and reflect to determine the beliefs, voices, fears and issues that inhibit success across a range of dimensions
Step three – synthesise insights and distil key themes and present these back to leadership to discuss and agree where the focus should be
Step four – applying creativity and expertise to shape a program of introspection and self-realisation to unlock the mindset which will provide a platform for success
Additionally, customer-centric processes should be embedded in the recruitment process. Firstly, providers should consider recruiting workforce with strong customer service and customer awareness skills which may mean looking beyond the sector. Other sectors have been through similar reform and therefore this experience is invaluable to providers. Secondly, ensure that customer centricity is built into the recruitment screening process. For example, think about how you structure interview questions and reference checks to ensure that you gain information about the candidate about their customer service skills and not just operational or care skills. It would be beneficial to observe how they interact with people during the interview process and how well they listen and answer questions.
Customer Centricity Practical Tips for Providers:
- Is your website up to date? Inaccurate, out of date or conflicting information will cause consumers to vote with their feet.
- Is access to human being a simple experience? Are consumers transferred from call to call?
- Is your pricing published and easily understood by consumers? Lack of pricing creates frustration for consumers.
- Are consumers calling for information that can be made available via other touch-points e.g. website? This may reduce their frustration.
- Do you direct consumers directly to MAC to answer questions or do you assist them? This may mean you are losing prospective customers.
- Are consumer calls being answered in a timely manner and are calls being returned? Are you measuring, monitoring and evaluating this process on a regular basis? If consumers aren’t called back, they will call another provider and if you aren’t monitoring the process, you can’t address the problem!
- Are your workforce adequately trained to answer consumer questions in a changing and somewhat confusing environment? If your staff don’t know the answers to questions, consumers will find someone else who does.
- Do you know the most common questions that consumers are asking, and can you use this information to improve customer experience? For example, putting this information on the website or developing a fact sheet.
Our next article will look at finance. We will discuss how to look beyond the funding cycle and explore payments in arrears, pricing models, revenue generation and strong balance sheets. To receive a copy of this article, sign up to our e-Bulletin here. To view past articles in the series, click here.