by Kalle Attard

Challenge

Competitive pressures in the medical device industry drive the need for companies to deliver high-touch service – or risk losing customers to the competition. Yet a cutting-edge medical device company had received significant amount of less-than-stellar feedback from customers, clinicians and employees about their ordering and insurance reimbursement experience.

The VP of customer experience could see that processes were inefficient but wanted to conduct a complete assessment before making changes. Specific areas of concern included:

  • A strong desire to improve growth strategy
  • The need for greater employee satisfaction and empowerment, which in turn would lead to happier customers with greater retention
  • Establishing realistic customer expectations based on recipient feedback and changing customer preferences
  • Competitive pressures leaving the company vulnerable to “death by a thousand cuts” and higher-touch service perceptions
  • The need for better tools and processes for clinical staff
  • The need for a streamlined, tech-enabled process that could be moved or distributed to FTE in lower labor cost markets
  • The need for better tracking and handling of order opportunities, better funnel management, quicker revenue realization and lower cancellation rates.

The VP sought an unbiased partner to assess and improve internal processes and external customer experiences (CX) in support of the organization’s bold growth plans. At the core of the company’s issues was an order process that was cumbersome, error-prone and painful for customers and employees alike. Employees were dealing with a host of technology issues ranging from systems that crashed daily to managing multiple systems with inadequate instructions and incomplete documentation, while customers experienced system delays and technology issues, as well as a disconnect between customer needs and insurance coverage details.

Solution

To begin, Poin tB interviewed over 20 internal stakeholders and 10 customers, completing five in-depth customer journey maps. What they found were:

People gaps, including:

  • Three organizational units that were performing the same functions in different ways
  • Customer modes of interaction were limited, with a high number of calls vs. self-service options
  • Steep and long learning curves
  • Flat organization which limited growth opportunities

Process gaps, including:

  • A process that lacked any type of standards
  • Unqualified orders being pushed through the process
  • Frequent delays due to missing or incomplete information
  • Customers who did not know their out-of-pocket costs until late in the process

Technology gaps, including:

  • The use of 18 distinct systems that were required to get an order through the process
  • Redundant data stored in multiple systems
  • Duplicate data entry with limited integration
  • Antiquated systems will limit vendor support

Armed with this information, Point B then led hands-on, organization-wide Future State workshops focused on key themes to identify pain points and bottlenecks and prioritize process improvement opportunities to determine solutions. These themes and concepts included:

  • Improving the customer experience, including a focus on the voice of customer and creating a customer-centric process; a move to self-service and transaction transparency and connecting the customer to the right person and/or information quickly
  • Quality improvement, including moving quality and process steps upstream to identify issues sooner to eliminate defects and build in an error-proof process
  • Standardize work, including documented standard operating procedures (SOPs) and standardized processes
  • Synchronizing steps to save time
  • Improving employee satisfaction by upgrading skills, tools and satisfaction of teams, and empowering employees to make decisions at the right level
  • Automating routine tasks to free people to solve problems

Based on the results of these workshops, Point B provided a detailed roadmap and execution plan, kicking off 10 initiatives to maximize synergies between process optimization and customer experience improvements for clinic and digital touchpoints, including:

  • Process improvement initiatives to establish a foundation for order completeness, standard work and process integrity, and an investment in technology to enhance the customer experience by providing information and setting realistic customer expectations.
  • People-related initiatives to realign CX teams to improve the customer experience as well as create opportunities for the development and specialization of employees.
  • Technology initiatives, including moving CRM software to be the core workflow system for CX, establishing reimbursement processes, eliminating multiple systems at each process step to enable future scalability, and enhancing portals for customers and professionals seeking self-service options.

Results

As a result of Point B’s work in conducting intake sessions, workshops and launching of initiatives to improve processes, people and technology, and after the customer implemented 10 strategic initiatives, they realized the potential benefits could include:

  • Maximized employee involvement, which created excitement and alignment around the changes
  • An increase in revenue by tying high cancellation rates to delayed notice of insurance reimbursement amounts
  • Reduced call center use, cost savings and an improved CX due to the implementation of enhanced online self-service capabilities and customer portals
  • Significant decrease in cost-per-order from improved workflow system integration, minimized handoffs, and decreased touchpoints
  • Maximized synergy and validation between employee efficiency and customer satisfaction