Before Java, coffee dates were simply about having coffee. Then along came Java House and coffee was less about buying a hot cuppa and more about enjoying an entire experience. The Java revolution is still in play. Healthcare retail is a market that’s ripe for a Java-like disruption. Being a sector that is grossly under-served, one can understand why most healthcare facilities seem to primarily focus on just delivering a service to patients rather than providing an experience for a customer.

The sheer demand levels leave little time to think about let alone invest in marketing practices like improving customer experience. Right now all efforts are geared to coping with the sheer demand placed on operations. To some extent, you can’t fault this logic! What more could a patient possibly want than seeing a doctor, being treated and getting better?

For health retail services, all it will take is that “First Mover” who like Java puts in that last mile of effort in being intentional about the brand offering. To healthcare service providers, many will tell you that the brand is that big shiny logo on the sign that sits on top of the clinic entrance. To the Healthcare professional who pursues retail based approach, the brand consists of everything about the entire business especially those points that concern direct contact with a consumer at any point. This retail focused approach is what will be the game-changer in healthcare service delivery in Kenya.

What is the first step to taking a retail approach to healthcare services?  The most important shift that needs to happen is to view patients as customers first.  In the same way a shopper has a choice and preference as to which supermarket they frequent, patients too are increasingly accessing greater choices in health clinics to visit and receive non-specialized services from.  It is to this segment that we share following 4 insights into becoming the JAVA in healthcare.

Define your customer

Patients are much more than customers. At the core they are fundamentally human beings. People, who seek a service, have certain expectations of what are low, acceptable or exceptional standards. They also come with a set view of what they are willing to pay for that service and are influenced by any number of factors as to how they make their choices on what service to settle for. By understanding your customer first as a person and not a patient, you will better understand how best to position your services to best satisfy their need expectation and perception of value. You may be pleasantly surprised to  find that your anticipated share of market  will be greatly expanded based on the knowledge of what more value you can provide to best serve your customer needs.

Understand how best to engage your customer

Having a customer-centric approach to health retail affords you the ability to be intentional about offering a homogenously unique customer experience. From the Java House example, customers love the assurance that no matter what Java they are in, they are bound to enjoy the same standards of service and product offering.  The same can be true for a health clinic with several outlets. A clear strategy around how a customer experiences your services is the best way to ensure you retain that customer and grow loyalty across different locations wherever your services are situated.

Differentiate your service

Like cafes, clinics are dime-a-dozen, there is bound to be one round every corner. So how do you make sure your business stands out for all the right reasons? There are many ways to achieve differentiation.  However, at the heart of differentiating your service is knowing who your competitors are, what they are doing and what you can do differently. Differentiation also speaks to ensuring that the same standards and service levels are being implemented across the board and therefore continuous tracking and monitoring is important to ensure service consistency is not only implemented but also replicated

Continuously Innovate and Improve

One of the unspoken the rules of entrepreneurship are innovate or die.  Regular tracking and measurement of metrics in connection to retail strategy not only helps maintain excellent standards in retail, it also affords avenues for revenue growth and operational efficiencies optimization. There are many powerful tools and technologies that can help healthcare care retailers make use of data driven technologies to not only optimize operations but also boost revenues and sustain growth efficiently.  The starting point to this revolution in health retail is data- the acquisition, analysis and action taken on relevant insights will be the game-changer.

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