New entrants like Walgreens are leaping into the ever-changing healthcare landscape and continuously pushing the envelope with technology and marketing. But are those changes creating loyalty with customers, or simply providing them with more options? Today’s consumers are savvy, value-seeking, social-media-following, strapped-for-time, bargain hunters. And companies like Walgreens are using proven retail strategies to capture those consumers by promising innovations in convenience and transparency in pricing.
Now that vast amounts of data can be accessed from the comfort of your couch, consumers have more opportunities to shop for the best value in healthcare. That exposure has caused a shift in the healthcare landscape, with everyone looking to stay competitive and relevant through their digital presence, services, and offerings. Walgreens’ responsive, mobile-friendly website prominently displays pricing for treatments, as well as a radius-based location finder and appointment scheduler. This streamlined online package is combined with an in-person experience that provides a touch-screen check-in process, accessible wait times, and above all, convenience. Consumers want to move through the journey from finding the right solution to feeling better quickly, so they can get on with their busy lives.
So should we try to keep up with Walgreens?
Healthcare organizations are following retailers’ example in some areas, for example, tailoring marketing strategies to specific types of consumers by capturing online behaviors and patterns. The ability to capture user data via analytics should be integrated into all core channels, but simply having the data is not enough. Mining this data and understanding the patterns enables you to improve the user experience.
We all know that consumers want shopping for healthcare and health insurance to be easy, mimicking the ease and transparency of shopping for other goods and services. Think beyond a desktop website when creating (and revisiting) your digital strategy. Most households are multi-device playgrounds that include smartphones, tablets, and laptops in all shapes and sizes. Responsive web design is a device agnostic solution that gives users a consistent experience when accessed from any of the latest and greatest gadgets, delivering upon the expectations of the average consumer.
However, the flip side of all this innovation is the risk of alienating loyal customers with whiz-bang technology. In other words, not all change is good. If user data shows that a new digital tactic is not resonating with users, it’s time to pull the plug. Failing fast proves to your audience that you are listening to their needs and responding accordingly.
Incumbents in the healthcare space have a deep understanding of the regulations, security, and privacy hurdles. That longevity and depth of knowledge makes for loyal, long-term consumer relationships – but it’s not enough to rely on this alone. Consumers expect an intuitive, convenient, transparent, and mobile-friendly experience. Does that mean we need to keep up with the Walgreens of the world? The key to success is to know your consumers and adapt to their needs – don’t simply mimic new entrants in an already crowded space.