4 Simple Steps to Map Healthcare Customer Journeys

February 9, 2018

The moment when someone chooses you for their healthcare needs is key. But it’s easy to overlook all the other interactions that led up to that.

With a decision as complex as healthcare, it usually takes numerous interactions for someone to get there. The better you can understand all of these touch points–even if they seem minor–the better you can connect with your audience and present yourself as the best choice.

How?

By creating a map that outlines the typical customer journey and assessing how well you’re handling every interaction.

Let’s dive in!

What Are Customer Journey Maps?

Customer journey maps are part science and part art. They’re a visual representation of all the interactions, starting from someone’s first contact with your brand all the way to choosing you over everyone else.

No two journeys are identical, just as no two customers are identical. But a customer journey map serves as a composite of the typical path people follow before doing business with you. Using both qualitative and quantitative data, it offers a bird’s-eye view of the journey and helps you spot areas you could improve.

Why Should I Use One?

First and foremost, a customer journey keeps you focused on the people who truly matter: your audience. They’re created from the customer’s perspective–with their goals, pain points, and emotional status in mind.

Beyond a deeper understanding of your audience, journey maps help you visualize the complex process of finding the right healthcare solution. Next to buying a home or choosing a spouse, this is one of the most crucial decisions we face. So it makes sense that it can get complicated. Using a map helps marketers keep everything straight and create the best experience possible.

Speaking of customer experience… journey maps can certainly help you improve. Most people are unhappy with the healthcare they’re receiving. They’re demanding more information, options, and control. Studying the experience from their perspective will help you make it better.

Guidelines for Your Map

There isn’t one single way to create a customer journey map. Some brands prefer a broad overview while others lay everything out in explicit detail.

Give the four steps below a try to find the right balance for you.

1. Start with a Persona (or Personas)

Image credit: johnhain

Close your eyes and imagine the ideal person who uses your healthcare product or service. What does he or she look like? How old are they? How do they like to spend their time?

Go into as much detail as you can. Write down all the attributes you can think of. You can even give your customer persona a name!

Here are just a few things to consider when creating a persona:

  • Age
  • Familiarity with technology
  • Gender
  • Geographic location
  • Hobbies/interests
  • Income level
  • The media they consume (internet, print, TV, radio, etc.)

If you’re having trouble getting started, you can turn to an actual customer who typifies the kind of person your product or service is meant to serve. Once you have a detailed customer persona, you’ll create the journey map from their perspective.

Sometimes your product will demand you create several customer personas (for instance, you might be marketing to both insurers and physicians). In those situations, you’re best off creating a separate journey map for each, as the interactions will probably be very different.

2. High-Level Overview

Image credit: Kantasimo

Keeping your customer persona in mind, sketch out the key stages of their journey to becoming a customer.

We want to keep things very “high-level” at this stage. Imagine a flowchart broken down into four or five chunks. Each chunk represents a phase of their journey; we’ll fill in the details in just a bit.

Traditional marketing jargon uses terms like awareness, interest, consideration, purchase, and (sometimes) retention. You can use those terms, or create your own that works better for your audience.

You can sketch this basic map on a whiteboard, a piece of paper, or try using a computer mapping tool. Bring in everyone who regularly interacts with customers (sales reps, customer support, etc.) to get a complete perspective.

When this step is complete, you should have a basic bird’s-eye view that charts the journey from the first contact down to choosing your solution.

3. Layer in the Details

Image credit: Pexels

Now it’s time to make your customer journey map more detailed.

Remember how you broke down the journey into a few large phases? Let’s take a closer look at each one and note the frequent interactions within them.

Remember, it usually takes multiple touch points for someone to move on to the next stage. As your persona builds the relationship, be mindful to note the following for your persona for every interaction:

  • Anyone else influencing/being affected by the interaction
  • Major decision points (moments of truth)
  • The tools they use to interact (to help you see which marketing channel would work best)
  • Their emotional state/pain points
  • Their immediate goals
  • When the interaction occurs
  • Where the interaction occurs

Some of the most valuable input here comes from your team’s observations about patterns of behavior. Interviewing past customers is always helpful. Quantitative data from analytics tools and surveys add another layer of insight; they can be useful for answering questions like how long, how many, or how often.

These details will help you gain a better understanding of the journey. But you don’t want to overdo it; if you add in so much information the map becomes unreadable, it loses its value.

4. Refine As You Go

Image credit: bodobe

With a detailed customer journey map at your disposal, you can simply look and see which interactions are working and where you could improve.

It’s easy to want to improve “every interaction.” But a map helps you prioritize. If too many people are falling off during the consideration stage, for instance, maybe you aren’t doing enough to address the emotional realities of their healthcare decision. You could create videos featuring past customers to reassure the audience and share their own emotional journey.

We also have to remember that customer journeys are much messier than before. We can’t expect anyone to follow a linear path from awareness straight through to buying. With so much information available online, the marketers who resonate are offering value no matter which stage of the journey their audience finds them in – without expecting them to go back and engage other content.

Finally, don’t worry about getting your customer journey map just right. You can always tweak it as you learn more about your audience.

Making Every Interaction Meaningful

Every person matters. No two people search for healthcare with identical backgrounds, reservations, and emotional struggles. So it’s absolutely vital that we as marketers show our audience that they aren’t just one among a faceless crowd.

Creating a customer journey map can help. By delving deeper into every interaction and visualizing how they work together, you can pinpoint pain points and improve your messaging. You won’t just connect with people better; you’ll make them feel valued and appreciated as individuals.

 

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