By KARYN MULLINS
Consumers aren’t taking their healthcare providers’ words for it anymore. They’re taking charge and leading a digital revolution where individuals have the power to make their own educated decisions about care.
According to the Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement report by Binary Fountain, a leading online reputation management platform, 51 percent of people who have a physician share their personal healthcare experiences via online ratings, review sites and social media.
Once shared, this information is immediately available to the entire world with just the click of a button. And people are taking full advantage of this. In fact, 80 percent of respondents in the 2018 Customer Experience Trends in Healthcare report by Doctor.com have used the internet to make a healthcare-related search in the past year. Another 81 percent said they read reviews about a referred provider.
Consumers’ accessibility to detailed, personalized experiences could make or break medical sales companies. Unfortunately, if these trends aren’t addressed appropriately, medical sales teams around the country will feel the impact.
By further empowering the general public, medical sales leaders can give their teams the tools needed to excel in the field. Here’s how:
Open up and face the experiences
Whether your product is a bionic arm, a new miracle medication or a tongue depressor, every patient will have their own experience. Each of these experiences are valid and deserve recognition. No matter how absurd or irrelevant a comment or rating seems to you, it will ring true to others researching your product.
In today’s technologically accessible world, ignoring negative feedback will make consumers trust your company even less. Consumers want to see proof that you’re listening and taking action to improve experiences. If current consumers didn’t have a positive experience with one of your products, why should others give anything associated with your company a try?
The answer should be because you’re on their side.
Show this by acknowledging comments—even the most negative. In the comments, note a timeline for when you’ll check back in. When that time arrives, ask how they’ve been doing and explain where you’re at in the process of ensuring others aren’t impacted by the same negative experience.
Equip your sales team with educational materials and updated information that will prepare them for the same type of feedback in the field. This helps doctors immediately address situations, giving them an improved chance of sending patients away with a more positive experience associated with your products.
Talk to consumers intelligently
Consumers have the power of research at their fingertips. They trust their ability to research and believe there is power and truth in reviews. ‘Dumbing down’ responses or talking your way around a situation is no longer acceptable.
People want to be spoken to as experts—because their goal is to be the top advocates for their own health. Increase their trust in you and your team by speaking to them as such. Put the power of your research in their hands, give them options, and speak directly to consumers — not just healthcare providers.
Encourage your sales team to participate and take action by sharing research on their social media sites. Along with product research, add actionable tips that consumers can follow to control and improve their health. As your tips catch on, trust in your company, products, and sales reps will increase.
Use reviews to your advantage
Consumers aren’t the only ones at an advantage thanks to improving technology. Informed, data-based decisions are giving medical sales companies the power to stay on top of their game like never before.
Make both negative and positive comments work to your team’s advantage. Track where your consumers are leaving comments and reviews to understand where you can effectively connect with the most people. See if there are trends in which social media sites they use most often and if there’s a pattern in misinformation regarding your products or companies.
Constantly monitor this information and frequently update your team. Providing them with direct, consumer information gives them the power to educate and advocate — the two most powerful tools in today’s healthcare experiences.
Karyn Mullins is the President at MedReps, a job board which gives members access to the most sought after medical sales jobs and pharmaceutical sales jobs on the Web.
As noted 35 years ago, author Dolores Curran wrote about each family’s support assets: teachers, ministers, post-men, next-door-Neighbors, physicians as well as extended family members. In her book, TRAITS OF HEALTHY FAMILIES her admonition was to Trust them but not completely.
For about 20 years, we sent out a questionnaire to a random selection of about 100 families with a family member who had been seen in the office during the previous 18 months. It was mainly about phone accessibility and availability during and after office hours. We also asked about quality. We offered the following options: *) out-standing, *) very good, *) acceptable and *) other: (pleas explain)
We left the un-identified, written questionnaire (usually about a 25-30% return-rate) results for everyone to read by our office staff. If the patient had had a problem and left a note about it, we always called them if they had identified themselves. If they left a complementary note about a staff member, we always left a copy in the chart to acknowledge the family at their next visit. This largely occurred before the use of social media and rating sites. Also, we asked new patients how they chose to make an appointment in our office. It was either as a recommendation from a current/previous patient, a family member, a neighbor, co-workers at their employer, or customer service at their health insurance company. The Custer Service representatives frequently knew the physicians with a special skill capability within their Primary Healthcare panel. I suspect that these over-all physician selection options still prevail. The social media would be considered a second opinion, especially for specialists. In certain densely populated communities, I suspect that the social media process might be more frequently involved.
Ultimately, there is a “psychometric” fit between a person and their Primary Physician. When this didn’t exist between a patient and a specialist (especially as a referral from me), l would always remind them that you wouldn’t chose a surgical specialist “based primarily on their bed-side manor.” That criteria should be reserved for the choice of a Primary Physician, Obstetrician or Cancer specialist. I would also remind my patients that no physician will ever be perfectly reliable. Most had heard previously from me about Dolores Curran. The book is still occasionally available and is worth reading, especially if you liked, once upon a time, the unique commentary style of Erma Bombeck.
Angelou Maya once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”