Who is the “real” customer in aged care?
As customer-centricity becomes an important strategic focus for many providers today, one question remains – Who is your customer?
Whilst a simple question, many senior managers and executives that I’ve engaged with are not able to articulate who their customers are, even though the organisation is (or claims to be) customer-centric. In the light of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety – If you don’t know who your customers are then how can you create a strategy to better support them?
Who really is the customer?
Given that the objective of aged care is to look after the ageing population, the obvious answer is the resident. The traditional notion of a customer has been the ‘end user’ — the person for whom the service was designed. Therefore, the services offered by the providers are usually directed at the primary resident. But, is that enough?
In our view, it is imperative that aged care providers consider both the resident and their relatives (their representatives) as their customers. In many instances’ families are often the primary decision-makers – in terms of providing financial support, communicating with the providers about any medical or dietary issues and reviewing their overall level of care. Of course, the primary customer is the resident, who lives in the aged care facility, but a secondary customer is their family who is often the “buyer” of the service and are responsible for making decisions about their family members’ care.
It’s not about “fixing” it’s about re-imagining
Given the regulatory reforms, growing competition and shifting consumer preferences that are amplified by unprecedented choice, both the resident and the family are in need of a new customer experience. What is required is not just “fixing” what is broken but to re-imagine a seamless experience for the two customers that integrates high-quality service and care. The aim is to exceed expectations, rather than meet requirements.
Using qualitative research methods and turning an empathetic lens to capture the ‘voice’ of the residents and their families will aid the providers to truly understand the nuances of what is critical to their overall customers’ satisfaction. Understanding the true needs, pains and motivations of their customers can help providers uncover meaningful insights for significant outcomes such as new models of personalised care, affordability and transparency of information. Delivering a holistic seamless experience that is both meaningful and delightful for the customers is what will assist aged care providers to stay competitive and become the provider of choice.
Benefits for customers and the organisation
Great service design takes into consideration all the stakeholders and devises a tailored strategy to provide an enhanced ‘customer experience’ for all identified customers. However, customer strategy doesn’t only benefit the customer. In fact, becoming more customer-centric will catalyse businesses to deliver new models of care that focus on issues of importance to the residents and their families. When businesses evolve their products and services in lock-step with customer expectations – this delivers genuine differentiation and cements the value of the service in the eyes of the customer. Now is an exciting time for aged care providers to build a customer strategy that can lead to increased loyalty and retention of your customers and have a positive impact on the overall business.
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Managing Director, The Strategy Group
Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well known startups. Jeffrey’s corporate background includes leading global innovation strategy at Cisco, working with large corporates such as Adobe, Westpac, Telstra, Woolworths, and Perpetual.
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