We now need to adapt our businesses to fit our new socially-distanced society. New behaviours are here to stay, at least in the coming months. With people no longer shopping brick and mortar like they used to, finding new opportunities to attract new audiences is now vital. As is catering for new ways of engaging with customers and shopping. This might sound challenging, because most of us have been running the same practice for a long time, but it also provides opportunities to connect better to your patients and their needs.
How will we adapt in order to accelerate the road to recovery and to instill a spirit of purpose and optimism? We want to make the case that even an uncertain future can, with effort, be a better one.
The value of a new vision
The main challenge for retail is that the physical store will need to offer patients new reasons to purchase offline. With value for money and convenience being key to consumers‘ decision making, retailers will need to develop their online and last mile logistics, as well as their delivery capability. They will also need to manage the balance between home delivery and in-store product ranges.
Since the new customer will be exposed to other industries that do adapt their full shopping experience to a new consumer, there are many learnings and challenges we need to take into consideration. This means that you are not competing against your own industry, but also experiences in other industries. In short, staying relevant means adapting.
How to adapt to this new reality
What are your patients looking for in these times? It’s now important to identify what changes you should be making to best cater to your patients’ needs. Mintels’ research (2020) shows that 48% of customers would engage in pre-purchase more often for safety benefits. These behaviours are likely to stay, and therefore we recommend looking at each point of patient interaction in order to successfully optimize it.
We see several areas that will help you become more resilient towards change:
1. Pre-Visit Online/ Offline Integration
Developing a patient-focused digital “front door” is now key. This will allow for e-triage, for you to find patients, virtual clinic visits, accessing records and scheduling in-person visits and more. You will be able to measure the value of this “front door” by quantifying clinical outcomes. Establish patient/ provider satisfaction to drive advocacy and to bring in new clients.
2. Digital Presence
There are many factors influencing the decision to go to a store for non grocery, from price (50%) and location of store (32%) to in-store convenience (36%). The location of your store could provide a new opportunity to tap into the local community. Using social media and advertisements that specifically target customers in your area, will enable you to spread the right message to your audience - that you are open, and happy to consult with your patients.
3. Reinforcing Patient Categories
It’s important to now invest in better online and in-store experiences that speak to your patients’ enthusiasm about certain categories. These experiences can take many forms, from online forums, to in-store displays that provide content, to promotional offers sent to patients’ mobile phones. Your patients are looking for the integration of digital and physical solutions that help them save time in store, avoid hassles, reduce risks and reduce their efforts. Therefore, optimizing your online environment by providing information and offering solutions can make a meaningful difference. You can mirror your physical practice with your in store experience by integrating daily practices online, from scheduling appointments, to questionnaires, to online consultations, or by pre-selecting frames to try on in store.
4. In-Person Visits
Trust, the third key factor influencing consumers’ purchase decisions, is also not a new concept. However, most likely for the first time, consumers have seen organizations put the well-being of their customers and their employees ahead of profit. “Acting in my best interest” is a key driver of trust. Tight adherence to social distancing and personal safety will now be demanded across every interaction. Consequently, trust between a consumer and an organization has become increasingly multidimensional and contextual. Will I be safe when I interact with them? Can I trust them to put my well-being before profit? Will they behave creditably when it comes to their environmental and social obligations?
5. Payment Plans
We are dealing with a new patient who has been financially impacted and is looking for ways to deal with their new situation. In some cases it can benefit them to know there is a vision or payment plan available for them, depending on the market.
6. After Care
Your patients’ search for value is much more than just short-term margin dilution. It is a fundamental change in purchase priorities that will continue for a year or more. Proactive strategies to invest in long term relationships that strengthen trust, and relationships are now of paramount importance. New realities provide the opportunity to learn more about your patients and help them in a relevant way that reflects their needs.
7. Building and Retaining Loyalty
You will now need to think beyond discounts. What if customers earned rewards based not only on their spending levels, but on their engagement in specific categories in which you aim to deliver a differentiated experience?
How this could work:
1. Map out every step your patients take; from the moment they find you, enter the store, have their lens consultation, purchase, pick up their lenses, to aftercare. Which moments could you potentially move online? What is the biggest potential?
2. Based on this journey, define what the key moments are for patients. Put yourself in their shoes. When do you need to earn their trust most? Where do you need to show they are in safe hands? When do you have to go the extra mile to make a sale? When do you need to provide relevant information? Carefully plan these moments for your customers and define whether you want to interact with your patients online, via the phone or in person.
3. Together with your team, define the changes or integrations.
4. Actively involve your patients, ask for their feedback and optimize the solutions.
In summary; this is the time to shift your vision. To use your knowledge, care and foresight to adapt and transform your business for your patients through creating the right value at the right moment. Through this agile approach you will be able to create flexible and strong foundations to build resilience, better human connections and the best possible vision for your patients. Because, at the end of the day, that is what we are in this business for.
KPMG International (2020, June) Consumers and the new reality. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/2O8mE8S
Almquist, E. Senior, J. Bloch, N (2016, September) The Elements of Value. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3gP2MnH
Morgan, B (2020, April) Customer Experience Mindset In A Post COVID-19 World: An Infographic. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2ZghaiU
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Shopify (2020, July) Customer Segmentation. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2W7jJSa
Fylan PhD, F. A Grunfeld PhD, E. Turvey PhD, A. Desallais MA, J. (2004, October) Four different types of client attitudes towards purchasing spectacles in optometric practice. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2BOmO2V
Baker, K (2020, February) The Ultimate Guide to Customer Segmentation: How to Organize your Customers to Grow Better. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/38I75yd