What a Henry Ford exec learned from Hyatt, MSNBC about consumer preferences

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Heather Geisler, executive vice president and chief marketing communications and experience officer at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, joined the podcast to talk about big trends in consumerism and tips for executing great campaigns.

Before joining Henry Ford, Ms. Geisler worked for Hyatt hotels and MSNBC in New York. She has built integrated engagement programs for Fortune 500 companies and said she sees many ways her experience integrates with healthcare.

Below is an excerpt from the conversation. Click here to hear the full episode.

Question: What were you able to bring to Henry Ford that might have been second nature to the organizations you worked in before, but not in healthcare?

Heather Geisler: One of the things I've learned across my career is often the dynamics that drive consumer behavior and consumer choice and preference, whether it's what television program you're going to watch or hotel you're staying in, or even where you seek out healthcare, are often driven by other industries. When you think about consumer behavior, experience and expectations, we don't have separate computers for booking hotel rooms or making doctor's office reservations. So the experiences are shaped by cultural influences, values and dynamics that come from outside the industry.

One of the things that has been so interesting for me is to draw upon the learnings I've had about why people make choices, what influenced their perception of choices. How do we make sure that we're giving consumers, and in this case, patients, more control over their experiences? I've seen that play out in media, hospitality and in parts of the nonprofit sector.

We're smart to look beyond our purview and industry. It's equally important, if not more important, to listen and not just look at what happened, but to ask the tough questions about what are the behaviors, beliefs, expectations or desires of consumers that are driving those choices and how can we calibrate how we're marketing and talking about our brand, and deliver new experiences accordingly.

Q: How do your roles as chief marketing and communications officer as well as chief experience officer intersect?

HG: It all comes down to brand in many ways, thinking about what your brand does and what your marketing and communications teams do creates an expectation. Marketing says, 'Here's what we're going to deliver you. Here's what you can expect to receive from us.' What experience does is ultimately deliver or not deliver on that expectation. You have to think about them in an integrated way and consider what you're doing at the top of the consideration funnel to help draw people in and make people think 'Henry Ford is the right place for me.'

If that's not being continued all the way through to how we deliver on that experience, and hopefully turn a patient into somebody who has a high degree of loyalty to the system or their individual provider, then we've missed.

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