With increasing government regulations, a vacillating market, and the ongoing shift toward value-based care, keeping customers has never been more important for healthcare IT vendors. It’s no wonder that KLAS is frequently asked the question, “What drives customer satisfaction in HIT?”
I speak with both providers and vendors about this question regularly. As a member of the Customer Insights Team at KLAS, I get to work and strategize with vendors about their customers’ needs and how to make providers happier. I’ve learned that this goal is tougher than it sounds.
My team and I have spent the last four years diving deep into the customer-satisfaction data from hundreds of providers. In our work, we have uncovered a few principles that high-performing vendors use to win contracts and, even more importantly, create successful and lasting relationships with providers. I’d like to share three of those keys and some of KLAS’ findings about them.
Sell to Meet Needs
A “serve vs. sell” mentality is a must for any successful vendor. In fact, the number-one behavior that predicts customer satisfaction is how the vendor sells to customers, as we’ve worked with vendors over the years, we’ve found they generally sell in one of three ways:
- À-la-carte, which allows customers to pick and choose from all available options.
- Packaged, which let customers choose from a variety of packaged options.
- Prescriptive, which involves vendors consulting with customers and then prescribing the tool(s) to be purchased; customers are not allowed to leave out certain pieces to lower costs.
At first, the à-la-carte model sounds the most promising. Shouldn’t customers with more choices be more satisfied? But while intuitive, this assumption is proved false in the correlation between vendors’ selling patterns and customer-satisfaction scores.
In fact, vendors who use prescriptive sales models outperform à-la-carte vendors by an average of 12 points.
Why does the prescriptive approach yield such positive results? Because it is focused on customer success. Of course, providers want to be heard, but the smart ones also want to be told what works. Wise vendors are willing to walk away from customers who aren’t ready to succeed or won’t adopt the tools they need. With these vendors, failure is not an option.
Invest in Training
Since 2016, over 20,000 end users of EMRs have completed a KLAS survey about EMR satisfaction in an effort known as the Arch Collaborative. While the Collaborative is focused specifically on EMR users, the recent results of the survey can be applied in many areas of HIT. Would you guess that not one, but two of the top three keys to success that KLAS pulled from the survey results had to do with training?
On average, users who strongly agreed that their initial training prepared them well had overall-satisfaction scores at least 70 points higher than those who felt poorly prepared after initial training. That statistic holds even five years after the initial training. Successful vendors must give customers rigorous training that drives high usability and deep adoption.
But what should the training focus on? That’s where the second key to EMR success comes in. Survey results from the Arch Collaborative show that users who have adopted over 75 percent of the personalization settings available to them have satisfaction scores nearly 40 points higher than the average!
When vendors teach customers how to personalize products according to the providers’ specific desires and workflows, the tools feel more usable, adoption follows naturally, and satisfaction soars.
Form Collaborative Partnerships
Most people agree that the need for strong vendor/provider relationships is obvious and crucial. KLAS hears this from both vendors and providers all the time, and the percentage of customers who view their vendor relationship as a partnership is a strong predictor of winning a Best in KLAS award. Despite all of this, 85 percent of vendors KLAS measures are missing characteristics of a true partnership as described by their customers. Why?
One reason could be the recent shift in provider expectations. As healthcare and HIT become increasingly complex, providers grow ever thirstier for more than just software and occasional check-ins from their vendors. As one provider put it, “We are not buying software anymore. We are buying a long-term partner to guide us.”
This finding was evident in our most recent Ambulatory RCM Services 2017 report, true partners deliver good guidance. Providers want their vendors to give personalized attention, share best practices, and help the providers form strategic plans for the future.
This may sound like a lot to expect. The vendor would have to stay up to date in the market and spend a lot of time and resources getting to know the provider partners and their needs. But in the long term, isn’t keeping customers easier than losing them?
A vendor who learns their customers’ needs, provides them with tools to meet those needs, and teaches providers how to get the most of their software will gain their customers’ trust. The vendor can then provide deeper guidance and lead customers to true success. And isn’t that the goal? In the end, customer satisfaction can be boiled down to this: providers love a partner in their journey to success.