As often happens, a consumer research study has proven something that you probably knew intuitively…that bad news travels fast. But the survey by Colloquy, a consumer loyalty firm, identifies and quantifies the demographic slices that are “predisposed to engage in negative WOM (word-of mouth) practices after suffering a bad experience.”
But the surprising insight about “madvocates” is that they likely to be among your “champions” and not the “curmudgeon-and-complainers.”
Hospitals, doctors and other providers recognize that patients have transformed from passive participants to proactively engaged “informed consumers.” They are increasingly empowered to share their patient experience—good or bad—via HCAHPS surveys, online provider scoreboards, Facebook and other social media, and person-to-person WOM.
Colloquy findings, outlined in CSM eMagazine, provide greater awareness for patient experience improvement:
Good or bad, champions are the voice. While everyone appreciates champions to sing their praise, the WOM Champions are also more likely (31 percent) to be “madvocates” than the general population (26 percent).
Upscale more than older. A bad experience is more likely to be shared by Affluent consumers (30 percent), and less likely than by Seniors (19 percent).
Friends and family are the first to know. Three out of four people (75 percent of the general population) share a bad experience with friends and family. But only 42 percent say they “always recommend a product or service they really like.”
Bad news has energy. Better than one in four consumers (26 percent) “are far more likely to spread the word to family, friends and coworkers about a bad experience with a product or service than a good one.”
Tips to improve patient experience…
Identify your champions. Although sometimes more difficult to identify in healthcare vs. the commercial/retail world, the voice of your champions or advocates is vital to hear. What they say—both good and bad—carries weight with friends, family and the community at large.
Think dialog and engagement. Surveys are after-the-fact, and “feedback” (although useful) is not as useful as a concerned and direct dialog. Listening to the voice of the customer is one of the beneficial reasons that some hospitals have instituted patient panels and online patient communities.
Quick action can shift negative to positive. Nearly by definition, champions can inspire positive WOM when an issue has been recognized and responsive action taken. Although not every patient concern (large or small, real or imagined, practical or impractical) can be “cured” overnight, but prompt recognition by the hospital leadership is a powerful first step.
RELATED READING is available in our free educational online library, including: The Medical Practice Marketing Link Between Word of Mouth and Your Front Door and Engaging Patients Like a Rock Star: Loyalty Lessons from Lady Gaga (of All People).