Posted: November 21, 2017

Have you ever played one of those breakout games? They’re the ones where you and a few friends are locked in a room, and you have to escape by working together to solve clues. They’re pretty good team building exercises, too. As it turns out, being shut in a room and asked to deal with a specific problem or set of problems while working toward a common goal, even if that goal is escaping the museum with the priceless art you’ve stolen, forces you to think strategically and can bring out creative and critical thinking skills. And while we don’t recommend fake heists as a business strategy, gathering your team in a room for a solid two hour strategy meeting to map out your consumer journey from a digital perspective could be your key to more success, and ROI, in 2018.

Understanding the Consumer Journey
When you’re focusing your healthcare marketing efforts on creating better consumer experiences, you need a consumer journey to map the full patient experience, showing how a consumer uses your services, or the decision-making process that turns a potential patient into an actual patient. Consumer journey maps allow you to identify where to focus your resources, find gaps, and highlight opportunities for improvement to eventually increase patient engagement and drive revenue.

Going through the process of creating a consumer journey map helps everyone on your team develop a deep understanding of the process consumers go through in researching symptoms and health conditions, selecting a provider, scheduling an appointment, evaluating their treatment options, and managing their day-to-day health.

The map should align touchpoints (times when the consumer actually interacts with your healthcare organization) and channels (methods of communication or service delivery, such as your website, hospital, clinic, etc.) with consumer goals and actions. These elements deserve a special emphasis because they are often where brand inconsistencies and disconnected experiences are uncovered.

Touchpoints include: Awareness, Research, Engagement, Service, and Loyalty.

Channels include: Search, Social, Website, Chat, Call Center, Hospital, Clinic, etc.

While identifying business goals, potential digital touchpoints and channels, and consumer goals, your strategy should also include consumer content needs during distinct phases of their healthcare journey that you can use to create personalized experiences.

Breakout Strategy
Before you begin your strategy meeting, you need to decide a single business goal to tackle, which problem you have that if solved would give you a breakthrough in really understanding your consumers. You can narrow your focus for mapping your consumers’ journey in a couple of ways:

A) Focus on the key audience to your website – looking at Google Analytics (GA) and assuming you have demographics turned on, look at one full year of data to see what gender and age group visits your site most frequently. Then, get to know him/her. Do they enter via a mobile device, are they typically new or returning visitors, do they arrive via an organic search, what are the top 25 pages he/she visits?
B) Focus on a key strategic service line – looking at your strategic plan and/or marketing plan, which service line are you trying to grow? For example, you may be renovating your birthing suites to be competitive in the market, so your women’s services business needs to grow.

Once you have your goal, you’re ready to gather the troops and begin developing out personas, a current state consumer journey map, and a future state consumer journey map. You want to engage a cross-functional team – marketing, IT, clinical delivery systems, service line leaders, etc. – to gain diverse perspectives, further flush out the consumers’ current and future journey, and uncover any additional gaps that the marketing team may not have thought of or known about. Get everyone to speak the same language and make sure your thinking, timelines, budgets, and goals are in synch.

You’ve got two hours: Go!
If you only have 2 hours for your strategy meeting, you need a focused agenda. Here’s a sample plan:

1) Pre-meeting: send out email to prep your team. They need to come somewhat prepared.

2) 20 minutes: Develop persona

a. Use your goal and any data you have to create a fictional consumer that will take a journey through your organizational touchpoints


3) 40 minutes: Develop current state consumer journey map

a. To help you with your brainstorming, download a Consumer Journey Map template and Consumer Journey Map Gap worksheet.
b. In this process, you will undoubtedly uncover gaps in your consumer’s current experience. Where are the areas where the consumer could be supported digitally, but isn’t? Are there times in the journey where the consumer feels “lost” in the process?


4) 50 minutes: Develop future state consumer journey map

a. Outline the desired journey, where you want to go with your efforts, on a “future state map.” Assessing your competitors to see how they’re winning consumer attention can be helpful in this process as well as documenting gaps.
b. By doing so, your organization can more effectively assess current and proposed processes, identify AND prioritize targeted actions to resolve pain points, and leverage those opportunities for building stronger consumer relationships.

5) 10 minutes: Homework assignments to team

You’ve Escaped the Room, Now the Real Work Begins
With your future state consumer journey map in hand, you can begin to implement tactics. Implementation may require website design tweaks, creative tweaks to direct mail campaigns, copy changes, development of PDF downloads, creation of a video, seeking patient testimonials, etc. Start with touchpoints you know you have resources/capabilities for immediately. Then for touchpoints that require further collaboration, set up a series of meetings to begin implementing change that will help your organization close the gap in creating a superior consumer experience. Don’t forget to celebrate quick wins!

Validate, Refine, and Report
A study from AdRoll and Econsultancy has found that one of the biggest barriers for marketers who want to attribute their success (and measure ROI) appropriately is a lack of understanding of their consumers’ journey. By going through this process, you’ll not only gain a greater understanding of your consumers, you’ll also help solve the critical issue of being able to track and claim ROI from your efforts.

This means you need to continually validate your assumptions about your consumers and touchpoints, refine based on what you learn, and report your findings to all stakeholders involved so you can avoid repeating missteps and iterate on your wins.

The essential elements of this ongoing process are:

• Using GA (or other measuring tools) to validate how your consumer journey map is working
• Tracking your efforts and reporting the results back to your “steering team”
• Keeping the dialogue going on a quarterly basis, even if only in a 15-minute huddle, so that you are in the know if something is changing operationally that would positively or negatively impact the consumer journey
• Focusing your attention on closing gaps so you can leapfrog local competitors
• Continuing to validate and refine on a quarterly (or semi-annual) basis, as consumer behavior and digital touchpoints are always evolving

Mapping the healthcare consumer journey is an involved process for your team and organization, but it’s an essential one if you’re to grow your service lines, increase consumer engagement, and provide seamless consumer experiences.

Want to learn more about consumer experience tactics for healthcare? Read our white paper, Bringing the Amazon Experience to Healthcare.