Getting to the center of a Tootsie Pop: 3 communications considerations for healthcare business transformation

By Jessica Beard on August 5th, 2016

Ninety six. This could be the number of times you’ve watched your favorite movie, or it just might be the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. The number could also mean much bigger things for your brand. You might find it surprising that 96 percent of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned social media profiles. And, a typical business hears from four percent of its dissatisfied customers, yet 96 percent of customers don’t voice complaints at all.

The last thing a company wants to do is add more reasons for customer dissatisfaction, which can oftentimes happen with business transformation. According to a recent KPMG study, 96 percent of businesses are currently in or planning business transformation. The healthcare industry is not exempt to this number. With all the mergers and acquisitions we’ve seen reported in the news – or witnessed firsthand – business transformation is here to stay.

As a communications professional, this can bring a big challenge as you are a crucial part in ensuring the confidence, stability and proof points for your brand. So, what can you do from an integrated communications standpoint so that your brand doesn’t lose its awareness, strong reputation and success while undergoing transformation?

Here are a few key considerations:

Focus on your customer. My dad once told me that it’s not always about me – in life and business alike. In anything you do, always focus on your customers’ unique pain points and make sure that no matter what transformation your business is going through that you are still providing the same great product/solution and customer service. For example, say your healthcare company is launching a new product platform unique for its provider customer base, which also comes with an increased price. Think about how this will affect your customers, what might they say and how you will need to approach communications around the new product launch. Whether you’re preparing for that next product launch or creating talking points for your company’s acquisition, empathy is key.

Be transparent. Have you ever been able to tell that someone is twisting the truth or holding back part of a story? We’ve all been there. The same holds true in business. It’s important to be forthcoming about change. Take our product launch example; once you’ve determined how the product shift will affect your customers and the types of questions they might ask, devise a communications plan that is honest – even if there is an increase in price. Your customers will appreciate the human element of communication. Another example might be that your organization is going through a rebranding to achieve its goal of being acquired. Just like our new product launch approach, being upfront with existing customers first is critical. Tell them about the rebranding before it happens, create a rally behind the new brand launch and reward their loyalty to your brand, send swag to customers and be upfront about your new mission – even if it’s really just to be more appealing to the eye. Chances are your customers will get excited, too!

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Business transformation is not a one and done deal. Continuing to evolve your business is important to meet customer demand, especially in healthcare with ongoing regulation change, new clinical findings and increasing patient expectations. Open communication with your clients should be ongoing. Simple touch points like a company newsletter, monthly check-ins with customers and sending helpful industry resources for ongoing improvements show them you are a strong partner and resource to meet their changing needs. If you’re getting acquired, make sure to provide ongoing communications to your customers throughout the transition about how it impacts them – ahead of any major milestones. A clear timeline and reassurance that they will be well taken care of goes a long way.

Regardless of where your business transformation takes you – from acquiring another vendor to rebranding your company – being honest, customer-focused and proactive with clients is critical to the success of your business. You’ll likely have customers that stay along for the ride if you’re seen as a true partner that provides helpful insight and great services to move their business forward.

How has your healthcare company managed business transformation? What strategies have been successful?

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