vendor and customer shaking hands

Success Principles: Keeping Customers for the Long Haul

Due to the plethora of healthcare vendors, customers often leave one vendor for another. Each healthcare vendor has different things to offer, and customers often search for the vendor that best fits their needs. For that reason, healthcare vendors struggle to keep their customers around for the long term.

Seeing this issue, we at KLAS decided to research the predictors for success. We wanted to figure out patterns that led to a vendor being able to retain customers. The research looked at different vendors’ internal processes to see what did and did not work, and then presented our findings in a breakout session at the Digital Health Investment Symposium.

Internal Processes

The goal of the research was to determine what internal processes really had an effect on keeping customers. KLAS looked at vendors’ selling habits, training programs, and their own employees’ voices. They asked vendors about the way they packaged products, the way they trained internally, and the way their employees felt. KLAS discovered that each of these factors were significant indicators of success.

Sales Strategies

Products are often sold in one of three ways. They can be sold a la carte, as a standard package, or in a prescriptive, set package. When a product is sold a la carte, an organization decides which parts of the product they do or do not want as opposed to getting all the modules, upgrades, and customizations. Buying an a la carte product is like buying a car but having to buy the automatic locks, mats, and radio separately.

A packaged product involves all the parts that the vendor has to offer but may not specify the way a solution has to be implemented. With a prescriptive product, a vendor tells an organization exactly what they need in order to be successful.

The difference in value between a prescriptive product and an a la carte product is huge. With a prescriptive product, everything is set up for the provider. With an a la carte product, nothing is set up, so the product is typically worth less. One thing that makes prescriptive vendors more successful is that they aren’t afraid to say no to customers that will not be successful or whose needs can’t be met.

Training Programs

Through the research, KLAS has discovered that organizations that take a serious, determined approach to training can predict a satisfied user. External training is important, but internal training is just as important and necessary. The research uncovered that the minimum amount of training required for improving satisfaction with the EHR is five to seven hours.

The impact of training is clear in the way providers view the EHR. For example, one provider might say that certain functionalities are missing while another provider might say that those same functionalities are the best parts of the system. What is the difference between those providers? One was well trained and the other received only cursory training. The quality of the providers’ training completely altered the way they viewed the system.

If trainers can personalize and tailor the training to a specific organization, research shows that the providers will have a better experience using the system. A bad training or implementation experience can take several years to recover from, so it is important to find the right trainer.

Voice of the Employee

The last aspect of success the KLAS team looked at was the influence of the vendor’s employees. The employees were surveyed, and responses showed that there was a lack of alignment. That lack of alignment was hurting the customers, the employees, and the company as a whole.

From one survey, the researchers learned that employees were not working to achieve the same goals, even within the same department. Individual employees were unknowingly working to achieve metrics that were detrimental to customer success. All of the employees were pulling in different directions. The research showed that departmental metrics needed to better align with both company and customer success.

Handoffs between departments were also hurting the customer experience. The customers were being handed off between sales and implementation, implementation and adoption, sales and customer support, and customer support and R&D.

To combat this malpractice, the organization put in a new system to document customer information to facilitate a smoother knowledge transfer. Getting all the employees on the same page in terms of customer experience is an important success factor for any organization.

Three Factors

Sitting in on this breakout session certainly made it clear that all three of these factors can help vendors in this arena. Selling wisely, training professionally, and understanding customers perfectly are three of the many things that vendors need to do in order to maintain their customer base for the long term.

     Photo cred: Adobe Stock, REDPIXEL