- If you are a health service provider with a poor online experience for your patients, there are a few very important aspects you must take into account.
- Your patients want easy access of contacting you, scheduling appointments, and getting the information they need.
- And here is how you can improve their online experience for better customer relationship.
When customer experience falls below customer expectations your business is in trouble. So, for health service providers such as dentists, chiropractors, and physiotherapists, the level of service you provide to customers in your practice should be matched by the experience you provide them with online. Your patient’s expectations are also influenced by other online experiences. So, as other industries evolve their online presence, you too should continue to evolve to meet expectations. Hence, the issue for many health service providers who have failed to improve their online presence in years.
And in that case, what specific steps can you take to improve the online experience for your patients? In wanting to avoid simply suggesting to improve your website (and all that entails), I’ve broken down three key specific areas that you can and should improve.
Online Booking Process
All too often we’re presented with a series of clunky interactions via older websites that are either not mobile-optimised or intuitive. In most instances, we’re asked to fill in a form to be called back or asked to navigate to 3rd party providers that manage bookings. So, what should you do to improve the booking experience?
Google researched how Australians choose health providers, and in this study they found that, ‘66% of Aussies say it is extremely or very important to have the ability to call a business directly from their smartphone.’ So you should start there. Make sure that users can find your contact number easily from mobile and make sure it is linked so all they have to do is click to call.
Beyond that, your patients will want to book online. Not simply fill in a contact form to request a callback to confirm an appointment. We’re past that. This is where providers such as Cliniko and MindBody Online have come in. They provide a great service to manage online bookings on behalf of health service providers. But it’s the implementation that should be improved. The simple execution is to link out to these 3rd party solutions or embedding their respective widgets on your website. This presents some confusion to the user when asked to navigate to another site. Or in the instance of an embedded widget, it simply looks out of place and unfortunately doesn’t provide a great experience. Look at your options with your 3rd party solution and ask them about implementing their API on your site. If they do provide API access, then reach out to a developer that can implement it on your website. The result will be a booking process that utilises the same functionality but is customised to your specific needs and styling, which will drastically improve the online booking process.
Content Marketing - Blog
Who hasn’t consulted Dr Google right? HealthDirect, an Australian, government owned, not-for-profit cites that, ‘Each week in Australia, more than 12 million people search the internet for health and medical information, yet 78% of these visits land on overseas websites where there is no guarantee that the information is clinically sound or appropriate to the Australian health system.’ With so many Australians searching the internet it makes sense to be visible at this crucial stage of their journey. This is where content marketing can play an influential role for your business. So it’s time to start blogging! But blogging isn’t new for health, so you’re not going to be a revolutionary in your industry. However, in many instances content needs a huge shake up.
Great blog posts drive traffic to your website and, hopefully, bookings for your business. But not every view of your post will require an appointment. This is why I suggest creating a ‘hub’, where the first-time visitor understands that they can keep coming back for a wide-variety of content to help them with their health queries. This builds trust and goodwill for your business and when they need an appointment they will be more likely to do so with you.
So, how do you create a content hub? There’s no strict blueprint to follow, so what you aim to do will come down to your business, your audience, and your ability to provide the content. But as a minimum you want to create categories covering specific areas of your service and blog posts within each that provides in-depth coverage of the key questions that your audience is searching. But further to that you should look to include:
- Glossary of specific health terms
- Latest health figures
- A moderated community forum
- Live Chats and Q&As with professionals across other health verticals
This is the most obvious and simplest to execute. With smartphones, we now have all-day access to our email and now messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger. Some of your patients will prefer to speak with you, others will want to communicate via email and yes, there’s more and more that prefer to use Messenger. So, adapt. If you want to improve their experience with your business, then ask them how they want to be contacted.
This should, of course, start with your website. I noted earlier that finding your contact number and providing the click to call link is a must. But make sure you have your email address present and implement a Facebook Messenger widget on your website. Further to that, online consumers are increasingly engaging with Live Chat and Chatbots, so implementing these should be on your radar. LiveChat is something easily implemented on your website but will require someone to monitor as the expectation will be that you get back to them promptly.
One out of the box, perhaps, as I haven’t seen it implemented in health, is push notifications. As an example, you could have a prompt on your booking page to ask users to subscribe to ‘Alerts on last-minute bookings.’ If they choose to subscribe, each time you have a late-minute booking you could blast it out and every subscriber will see it pop up when they’re browsing the web. That’s right, they don’t have to be on your website.
Then there’s the emergence of chatbots and AI, which is a whole other opportunity to keep your eye on.
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