5 Pillars of Patient Engagement and Long-term Loyalty

The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.

—  Roy H. Williams

Sounds obvious, right? And yet, if my daily mail — electronic and otherwise — is any indication, far too many companies still don’t get it. Day after day, they push messages that tout their services without a clue as to whether I’m even in the market for them. After all, if they don’t understand my needs or wants, how can they possibly expect to fulfill them? And if they don’t fulfill my needs, there’s no way I’m going to become a satisfied, loyal customer.

The fact is today’s digitally driven consumers follow complex, varied paths to purchasing and maintain diverse feelings around brand interactions. There is no one-size-fits-all but, according to a new study by SAP, there are certain foundational factors to consider for anyone hoping to foster better engagement and long-term loyalty:

Brand Values: Nearly one-third of respondents (30%) cited “shared values” as a reason they are loyal to a brand.

Doctor Takeaway: Clearly, aesthetic consumers are looking for skilled practitioners but they’re also looking for doctors who “get them.” Agreeing to an aesthetic procedure is both a medical and an emotional decision and doctors whose messaging efforts reflect both elements demonstrate that they share complementary values with potential patients.

Personalization: 69% of respondents would like personalized information about a brand’s products.

Doctor Takeaway: Assuming all potential patients are on the same stage of their aesthetic experiences leads to overly broad, ineffective messaging. Knowing what websites deliver traffic, what pages your site visitors linger on and what sort of devices they use can all help you create and deliver better-targeted information.

Customer Support: More than half of those surveyed (54%) would like — or may like — an offer of help before they have to ask for it.

Doctor Takeaway: Your experience with existing patients provides excellent insight into the concerns of potential ones. Incorporating those insights into FAQs on your practice website or sharing them via online Q&As saves consumers time and energy even as it gives doctors an opportunity to weigh in and gain exposure.

Email Outreach: While email was cited as the most popular way to communicate with companies, almost half of customers (48%) said they had problems with delayed or no responses to email.

Doctor Takeaway: It’s arguably unfair but today’s consumer expects near-instantaneous communication with the companies they patronize. Work with your marketing team to ensure that your subscriber list is good, that messages avoid spammy signals and that all incoming mail — inquiries, kudos, complaints — is handled quickly.

Internet Presence: 72% of respondents said they research products and services online.

Doctor Takeaway: Let’s face it, the larger and more expensive the purchase, the more extensive research those consumers are likely to conduct. And with so much of it being conducted online, it’s crucial that doctors be present wherever those potential patients spend their time.

Put the above together and the real takeaway is that today’s aesthetic consumers expect more than just expert skills and great outcomes. As Jamie Anderson, SAP’s global senior vice president, Customer Engagement and Commerce, puts it:

Brands must not only provide the best possible customer service, but also truly invest in learning about each customer’s individual buying habits and interaction preferences, while also making that information really accessible.

In other words, the more closely your efforts track with consumers’ preferences, the more likely you are to meet their expectations. Do that consistently, back it up with continued engagement throughout your interactions and you’re even more likely to exceed them.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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