The Mutual Dependency of Marketing, Customer Service and ROI
You’ve conducted research, developed your strategy, identified the right audiences, shaped messaging and value proposition based on the audience’s motivations, and done a fine job of targeting. So what could go wrong? Answer: Your fulfillment mechanism was awful.
Too often there is a gap between outbound marketing and how inbound inquiries are handled. This gap swallows up inquiries and undermines your credibility when the large numbers associated with online activities don’t translate to real life appointments. CRM-based approaches help with follow-up, but implementation and messaging can feel a little too commercial for the space. That’s one reason why marketing and customer service workflows need to integrated into your planning and, preferably, in your org chart.
This is not revolutionary stuff, but I fear we may be losing sight of its importance as we rush to update our marcom technology stacks with the latest and greatest. We live in a now-based society. Unless you can empower consumers with the ability to self-schedule for all service lines, the most important technology for conversion is a prompt, helpful, human response and ownership of an inquiry beyond the initial response stage. New school, meet old school.
Here are common break-downs in the pipeline from marketing to customer service and ultimately, real-world ROI:
Inquiries Are Routed to an Inbox That Only One Person can access
Single-person access can happen in small organizations or in large, decentralized organizations where responsibilities for responding vary based on site of care or geography. Ensure that more than one person has access to each inbox create a recurring scheduled reminder to ensure it is checked and responded to multiple times per day. If you can collaborate with a customer service team, work with them to route online inquiries to an electronic queue that agents integrate into their schedules. Remember, consumers expect an informed response to an email or contact form within an hour or two.
The Task of Responding to Inquiries Is Delegated to the Most Junior Person in the Department
No one likes sorting through junk mail, but legitimate inquiries are buried in there. Although delegating this task to a junior member may feel like a good decision for time management purposes, does that person have the customer interfacing skills necessary for success? Pick the response team based on their knowledge of how to navigate your system, their judgement in responding with courtesy, and their awareness of HIPAA-compliant communications.
Inquiries Are Passed Along to Other Departments for Handling, or the Response to the Consumer, Simply Gives Them yet Another Phone Number or Name to Contact.
A prospect is interested and fills out a contact form. You pass the inquiry along to another department or reply to the prospect they should call a specific phone number. Both scenarios decrease the likelihood of conversion. A better approach is to request the customer’s phone number as part of the submission form, respond by email to acknowledge receipt and that a live person will call within a certain time frame. The team designated to respond should be able to view and book appointments immediately or take the ownership of that request offline, work the issue across multiple sites of care, and recontact the prospect with options. This offline handling can be a time-intensive but necessary human layer to bridge legacy systems.
Inquiries Lack Ownership Once the Initial Response has Been Provided
Let’s say a prospect has asked about doctors who fit certain criteria. You provide that information and hear nothing back. You’ve fulfilled the request, but is the task complete? In many settings, this ‘ticket’ would be closed. However, following up with that person a few days letter to confirm receipt of the information, and offering assistance in scheduling can go a long way in making a positive brand impression and lift conversions.
These are a few of the common breakdowns that suppress conversions and ultimately ROI. The best way to assess your situation is to test response mechanisms for each service line, geographic area or operating unit. The results may surprise you.
Michael Crawford became interested in healthcare listening to the conversations around the patio table as his parents and their colleagues talked about work. For the past 30 years he's used his marketing expertise to help medical groups, hospitals and health systems connect with consumers, physicians, employers, brokers and health plans. He advocates for a strategic approach to marketing, audience-based communications, coordination between marketing and customer service functions, and early inclusion of the marketing discipline when planning services. His work has earned more than a dozen awards over the past few years. He’s no stranger to healthcare reorganizations or healthcare reform, from the failed effort during the 90s to the implementation of the ACA to today’s efforts at repeal. His blog, Healthcare Marketing Survival Guide, offers advice for B2C and B2B healthcare marketers trying to chart their course during uncertain times. Connect with him via LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @health_crawford.