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Article 5 min read

How CX helps healthcare SMBs earn healthy bottom lines

Smaller healthcare companies stand to grow strong on a foundation of great customer experiences.

By Tara Ramroop, Staff Writer

Last updated October 10, 2023

The pressure is on healthcare companies to deliver a better end-to-end customer experience—otherwise, it is truly an insult to injury. The largest healthcare and insurance groups have their own legacy systems to untangle and integrate, but smaller healthcare outfits are also on the hook—and, arguably, at an advantage—to scale and grow with customers top of mind.

Healthcare organizations need to provide great customer service in stressful and highly intimate situations, adjust to quickly changing patient needs, ensure compliance with regulatory and privacy concerns, and adapt in the long run to the demands of patient care in a virtual world: messaging or calling from hospitals, sterile waiting rooms, and lines at a pharmacy.

The challenge is complex: making it easier for healthcare consumers (which is most people, at some point) to get what they need, and making it easier for those on the front lines of customer service to facilitate that for them.

Only 18% of healthcare customer service agents say they are effective at finding the information needed to do their job well.

Unfortunately, according to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2022, only 18 percent of healthcare customer service agents say they are effective at finding the information needed to do their job well.

But technical, operational, and foundational solutions are close at hand, according to fresh data from the 2022 Zendesk CX Accelerator report.

The CX Accelerator report includes insights from nearly 5,000 customer service decision-makers around the world. The survey highlighted the challenges many companies are facing and provided insights into how the leaders of the CX pack maintain high customer service standards, cultivate customer loyalty, and stand apart from their competition. It uncovered a lot of ways healthcare startups and SMBs can build a solid foundation of CX, in order to better serve customers’ needs in the long term. It uses a framework of CX maturity–divided into Starters, Emergers, Risers, and Champions–to quantify which companies are nailing it when it comes to customer experience, and which ones have room for improvement.

Success is within reach

hands reaching up

Many healthcare startups and SMBs are becoming household names thanks to their ability to see a problem for consumers and then show up with the best solution for it.

Consider healthcare disruptor-provider One Medical, whose business model centered on great patient care and more positive experiences at the doctor’s office. There’s also Luma Health, which is changing the game for patient-provider communication, and HeartFlow, which helps doctors better understand how blood flows through the body. Many of these success stories hinge on a company’s ability to make customer experiences seamless: whether that means making the painful work of communicating with a provider less so or getting essential patient health data in doctors’ hands faster.

The common thread linking them is an unwavering focus on customers–the small healthcare companies themselves, and the patient end users who depend on them.

Success is within reach for healthcare SMBs looking to skill up and scale smartly with CX. Read on for key findings and actionable takeaways, based on data from the CX Accelerator report.

Deliver seamless experiences to meet customers where they are—especially when they’re not feeling 100%

Healthcare issues and needs don’t operate on 9-to-5 schedules, which means an added complication: providing an excellent CX when customers are stressed, mobile, exhausted, or all of the above.

Smaller companies can still deliver 24/7 customer support and allow customers to choose how they get in touch. Someone in the middle of a hospital may prefer a messaging or chat interface for privacy. Others may want to hash out the complexities of insurance coverage live and 1:1.

Champions are 32% more likely than Starters to use asynchronous messaging in their CX chat/messaging channels.

Even when a customer’s needs aren’t immediate, enabling them with asynchronous messaging or a robust help center can go a long way. Small business Champions resolve 37 percent more of their chat inquiries without human involvement compared to Starters, according to the report. Additionally, 63 percent more small business Champions report being effective at keeping their online help center up to date compared to Starters.

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Get up and running easily and tailor over time

Just as healthcare doesn’t work a regular schedule, neither do the demands of CX as the business becomes more complex. All of the above is only possible with a customer experience solution that can be implemented quickly and grow alongside a scaling business.

Champions are 3.2x more likely than Starters to onboard new employees in as short a time as a few weeks.

A robust CX tech stack can be a big win for small businesses because best-in-class tools that integrate well with each other can help streamline operations. For example, a Zendesk-Slack integration enabled agents at Biobot Analytics, a public-health wastewater analytics company, to easily view past customer conversations. Furthermore, a Zendesk-Redk integration helped, a health and wellness marketplace based in Spain, streamline chat workflows for customers with GDPR pre-approval.

Improve the patient experience with more info and context

improve patient experience

Productivity and efficiency come into play for any business. For a healthcare company especially, so do personal touches. The right solution enables the business to do all of the above.

Intuitive workspaces with a complete picture of patient needs—from prescriptions to power of attorney documents to shipping vs. billing addresses–minimize the need to switch between programs and dashboards. While the time savings may be small to start, every minute saved counts with more personal issues.

Take advantage of proximity to customers by listening to them

A small (but growing) customer base has a major advantage: the power of proximity to each of those customers. It’s a good habit for small companies to develop early: learning where customers commonly face issues throughout their journey or within the product so the business can proactively address their needs.

15.8x more Champion than Starter organizations are rated ‘Very good’ when it comes to acting on customer feedback to change processes for the better.

Customer support data is a treasure trove of customer data. Smaller companies in particular may also find value in a CX community to gain insight into best CX practices for their industry and use case.

Scaling small business healthcare smartly with CX

This data suggests that scaling a business using the framework of customer experience pays dividends in the short- and long-term. But it also underscores another reward: being the company or provider who showed up for customers when they needed help the most.

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