Six key ingredients in a healthcare CRM business case

Kyra Hagan - Print  | 

By 2020, customer experience will overtake product and price as the key brand differentiator, according to customer intelligence consulting firm Walker Info.

As healthcare consumers become savvier and more demanding, personalized offerings and top-notch service are required to secure their loyalty to your organization.

We’ve seen the focus on personalization and customer experience take off in ecommerce – just look at Amazon, which has consistently ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction among U.S. consumers for the last 17 years. The key to Amazon’s success: Leveraging sophisticated analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) technology to deliver what consumers want, when they want it.

To stay ahead of the competition, healthcare organizations must now demonstrate a relentless focus on the consumer and proactively deliver an extraordinary experience to attract and retain loyal patients. This is where a healthcare CRM comes in, providing the tools for engaging consumers across channel, personalizing communications, and even predicting consumer behavior.

As of 2014, about 60 percent of U.S. hospitals were already using CRMs, according to the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD). That number has continued to steadily rise. Here’s why: CRMs are known to improve customer retention – by as much as 27 percent, according to – and that translates to growth in an organization’s bottom line. Just a 10 percent increase in customer retention levels can result in a 30 percent increase in the value of a company, Bain & Co. estimates.

Are you trying to justify a CRM investment to senior management? Do you think your organization “can’t afford” a CRM just yet? If the facts above aren’t enough to prove the benefits, then you’ll need to build a business case for implementing an enterprise-wide CRM. To succeed in swaying key decision makers, a business case should be honest and thorough to set realistic expectations and provide a solid framework for discussion and problem solving. Plus it should consider your organization’s current situation and objectives, while fostering an understanding of potential healthcare CRM benefits, costs and risks, beyond traditional marketing use cases.

Here are the six key ingredients you need for creating an effective CRM business case:

1. Executive Summary – Think of the executive summary much like a closing argument in a legal proceeding. It’s probably best to write it last, as it should succinctly deliver the most compelling parts of your overarching business case written in a persuasive tone. Quickly, tell your executive team why you need a CRM, paint a vision for what will be achieved with it, and quantify those results in terms of ROI. For example, summarize how much time each person in your organization spends navigating complex spreadsheets to manage consumer and campaign information today, confidently state how CRM software would solve these problems, and conclude with a realistic estimate of ROI which takes into account time saved, revenue generated, and adverse events that might be negated.

2. Challenge – Clearly detail the problem(s) your organization currently encounters, including specific issues impacting productivity and the inability to truly provide an exceptional consumer experience. Be blunt about data security concerns, operational bottlenecks, and data inaccuracies that impact performance measurement. Though you may be concerned about pointing out deficiencies now, it is important to show the executive team the full extent of the problem in order to get their buy-in.

3. Solution – Demonstrate how a healthcare CRM solution specifically addresses the challenge(s) you’ve described and explain how the technology will enable you to do what is not possible now. For example, a CRM could house important consumer information in a central database that stakeholders across the organization could easily access, based on role-based permissions to ensure proper security and compliance. A healthcare CRM also helps you pinpoint the ideal consumers for campaigns, personalize communications to improve responses, and measure campaign results in real-time. All stakeholders also could have full visibility into the lead pipeline, lead management, and revenue impact of each campaign, ultimately supporting data-driven investment decisions while mitigating operational bottlenecks that compromise ROI.

4. Cost – Itemize all the costs associated with implementing and maintaining a CRM solution. Granted, these estimates could change once you select a software vendor, but at least you will be able to provide a sense of the costs related to subscriptions, implementation, consulting fees, and other factors.

5. Future Benefits – In addition to looking at the near-term ROI, you should focus on the less tangible or potential future benefits of CRM to your organization, such as improved patient engagement, population health, increased outcomes, and a more cohesive, personalized approach to the consumer experience in alignment with your organization’s mission and brand promise.

6. Execution Timeline – Once you’ve shown why a healthcare CRM is imperative and how your team, organization, consumers, and patients could benefit from it, you need to develop a realistic estimate of how long it would take to implement the system. The timeline should include time needed for strategic planning and implementation, as well as training.

If you are seeking ways to engage patients and establish your organization as their lifelong brand for healthcare, you no doubt feel the pressure to meet ever-increasing consumer expectations. CRM solutions offer an ideal way to leverage rich consumer data to meet – and even exceed – these expectations. But CRMs require buy-in and support from executive leadership, as well as your security, compliance and IT colleagues.

CRM solutions have the potential to positively impact an infinite number of use cases in a healthcare environment. With a well-thought out business case, you can show how a healthcare CRM would not only bolster marketing efforts and ROI, but also be used to meet more strategic organizational goals, such as increasing consumer profitability and loyalty, as well as improving patient engagement and outcomes.

About the Author

Kyra Hagan
Senior Vice President and General Manager, Marketing & Communications, Influence Health
Kyra creates marketing strategies and oversees programs that create demand for Influence Health’s consumer engagement products and services. For nearly two decades, she has served in a number of leadership roles where she has built and led high performing teams in the development, delivery, marketing, and sales of cutting-edge healthcare information technologies. Kyra is a frequent blogger, guest columnist and industry speaker who enjoys practically applying marketing best practices she so often preaches in her work at Influence Health.

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