Of the customer, By the customer, For the customer
Using data to echo the voice of the consumers
Are you a customer-centric firm? Do you worry about what your consumers are worried about or what sparks joy in them? Are you concerned about your feedback not being actionable? Well, then you are at the right place. In the next 6 minutes, we will take a journey together to understand how a curriculum project transformed the digital life of a hospital. And how you can also create a unified view into your consumers’ feedback. It changed my outlook about business and healthcare analytics and I hope yours will as well.
In today’s day and age, all businesses are trying to be customer-centric. Take Amazon, for example, they have amplified this trend by always putting customers first. Conclusively the customer’s voice matters and plays a major role in defining the business’s strategy and the journey to it. Healthcare Delivery Organizations (HDO) are no exception. As part of the UC Davis MSBA curriculum, my team and I delved into healthcare analytics. Our client was a renowned healthcare firm and their objective for the project was to analyze patient feedback from surveys. Our client wished to understand how their patients are responding to the services provided at their hospitals, not just in form of numerical ratings but also qualitative feedback provided through free-form text. They especially wanted to highlight the key themes that emerge across the thousands of surveys collected every year. These themes will help the organization’s patient experience team understand the pain points in a patient’s visit to the hospital. With that knowledge, the team will be able to run projects to improve the experience with a more laser-focused approach.
Since we were looking at the qualitative section of the survey i.e. free text comments, at first it seemed like a behemoth of a project with unstructured information. But when observed carefully it was just a collection of opinions voiced by the patients, waiting to be heard. We had to analyze the sentiments and themes expressed in the comments, in a way that can drive action from the hospital. The vision here was to design a dashboard that can tell at a glance the most popular themes across thousands of patient reviews. This dashboard was being envisioned as the single source of all the patient’s voices. This is why it will be referred to as the unified customer view. The idea of creating a unified view can be broken down into four major questions:
Why create a unified customer view?
Most organizations conduct regular touchpoints (surveys etc.) of some kind at various points of a customer’s journey. We all have seen countless NPS/ CSAT questions after we use a service. Healthcare is no exception, and therefore our client has a similar sentiment tracking survey to collect patient feedback. In addition to standard numerical data around satisfaction etc, the survey also contains free-form text data. This data can oftentimes give the organization some much-needed feedback that can change their outlook about how they can improve their organization’s brand image. The unified view will help our client track a variety of sources of qualitative data to figure out what part of patient experiences they need to prioritize. It will simplify and make obvious the action item the firm now needs to take.
How to create a unified customer view?
The first step for the creation of this view is understanding the strategy of the firm. From the outset, our team focused on understanding what was exactly the deliverable and how will it fit into the strategy of the organization. Our client’s key strategies are to make the HDO patient-centric, achieve excellence in education and develop effective community engagement. Our team’s analytical solution will be fulfilling two out of those three key strategies namely, providing the patient's state of the art clinical care and providing outstanding learning opportunities for students to attain the skills and passion needed for success in technology and medicine.
This connection to the strategy can be a crucial element to designing any project. Whenever we think of using analytics to solve something, it is of utmost importance to dig deeper as to what exactly we are trying to impact.
In this case and probably in your case too, it is building a tool that can help your organization become more customer-centric. Thinking about the whole life cycle of a customer in this way can generate more business value.
Understanding customer’s life cycles can create a deeper utility for them because they will feel heard, and feeling heard will usually mean re-engaging. Many customers want the ability to provide honest feedback, and once they see it in action it will build trust and long-term relationships.
What must we include in a unified customer view?
As an analyst of a customer-centric business, the key here is to understand that this is not just about descriptive analysis of what we can see in the data so far. This is more about learning from what has happened in the past and using that to direct resources to change what can happen in the future. That brings us to the prescriptive analysis of the customer data.
Customers will always intuitively know when their data is being used in any sort of organizational change and will be receptive to such changes. My learning here was how to ensure the right message is conveyed to the right people. The prescriptive analysis involved using business judgment in interpreting a model’s result. Using machine learning (Natural Language Processing methods in our case), we zeroed in on four major themes that have a high posterior probability of being relevant given the available evidence.
Who will benefit from a unified customer view?
We were fortunate to have a data-centric client. Their zeal to use technology for the betterment of the community was instrumental in driving this project. The substantial rewards from using customer feedback to advance and improve services will be for both the customer and the companies that serve them.
As organizations like our healthcare clients begin to evolve and tailor their services and products based on data insights, internal transformations will become visible. These transformations will shift the focus from profit-centric business processes to customer-centric quality interactions. The beneficiaries will gain a sustainable differentiator advantage with trust and value.
The takeaway from this project is that to be a successful business we need to make sure we diligently analyze the feedback collected from the customer. When we keep in mind the strategy defined by the organization, while conducting the feedback analysis, it will give us even more trustworthy results.
Understanding the business background and then defining the models will ensure that the resulting recommendations don’t destroy credibility. Also, exploration of non-traditional data types can lead to great insights and must be leveraged for client’s and customer’s benefits.
Secondly, as an analyst, it’s important to convert the feedback analysis into a consumable format for the business owners. Hence, not just analytics but communication of analytics is the key to unlock client support to put insights into actions.
Thirdly, having a leader who believes in data-driven changes can make sure you have the essential resources and data to run analytical projects. Getting the buy-in from executives will not only bring their business expertise but will also help build models that are more business cognizant.
These key ingredients: analytical professionals that can collaborate with subject matter experts and data-centric leadership will champion the implementation of the analytic project.