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Customer Relationship Management in Long-Term Care

More Than a Software Solution!


Updated November 19, 2013

Customer Relationship Management in Long-Term Care

CRM is not just a software solution but a way to enhance resident and patient experiences.

@Ryan McVay, Getty Images

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is a business strategy designed to reduce costs and increase profitability by solidifying customer loyalty. According to CRM.com, “True CRM brings together information from all data sources within an organization (and where appropriate, from outside the organization) to give one, holistic view of each customer in real time. This allows customer facing employees in such areas as sales, customer support, and marketing to make quick yet informed decisions on everything from cross-selling and upselling opportunities to target marketing strategies to competitive positioning tactics.

People often equate CRM with a software solution. But in part it is about establishing a culture of data collection. It's a strategy used to learn more about customers' needs and behaviors in order to develop stronger relationships with them. According to CRM.com, the more useful way to think about CRM is as a process that will help bring together lots of pieces of information about customers, sales, marketing effectiveness, responsiveness and market trends. And no surprise but when you do this you also enhance the resident experience.

Insights allows for:

  • improved customer service
  • added cross-sell and upsell opportunities
  • improved close rates
  • streamlined sales and marketing processes
  • improved customer profiling and targeting
  • reduced costs
  • increased share of customer and overall profitability

It can be expensive to implement CRM. Some firms are using Web-based CRM technologies for only hundreds of dollars per month per user; however large companies may spends millions to purchase, install, and customize the technology required to support its CRM initiative.

A Gartner report, "Three Steps to Create a CRM Strategy," outlines, you guessed it, three steps to develop an effective CRM strategy.

  1. Step 1 — Set the Destination: Managers are urged to create their own definition of CRM to gain buy-in and cohesiveness from those involved in the initiative. A vision with desired results should be established immediately.
  2. Step 2 — Audit the Current Situation: Analyze past CRM initiatives to understand what did/did not work. Don’t take shortcuts in information gathering. And according to Gartner, “seek information from external sources first, and weight customer and consumer feedback highest."
  3. Step 3 — Map the Journey: Identify the steps to achieve the vision. According to Gartner, three to five top-line objectives for CRM initiatives should be established.

A CRM strategy must be linked to the overall corporate strategy, and it must build on existing sales or marketing strategies that are already in use.

Gartner outlines eight building blocks for CRM:

  • vision
  • strategy
  • customer experience
  • organizational collaboration
  • processes
  • customer information
  • technology
  • metrics.

One Chance May Be All You Get

An Accenture research study has shown that almost half of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for quality customer service from their healthcare insurance providers. Of 1,000 insured individuals 80 percent expect customer services to be easier and more convenient. If they are that demanding of their insurers, they are bound to be even more demanding of their healthcare providers. You can get a leg up by knowing your customer and letting CRM technology, combined with a culture of data gathering, help.

What Accenture found that consumer want from insurers is not much different from what they want from aging services providers.

  • Knowledgeable People Who Can Solve Their Problems
  • Convenient Hours
  • Short Wait Times

In other words they want the basics.

According to the report "Customers have become more diverse and more demanding, wanting service offerings, experiences, and communications increasingly on their own terms. They have also become more technology-savvy and less shy in broadcasting their experiences. Technology trends like social media have ignited a new consumer activism, whose reverberations have only begun to be felt.

As you start to audit your marketing, consider CRM as an invaluable tool. And you may want to check out the MacKay 66. Harvey MacKay outlines 66 things he wants his salespeople to learn about their customers over time. And that is for a company that sells a very boring product – envelopes!

CRM is a great way to extend your brand and make an impact on prospects and customers alike.

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