By: John Lavey | Hammock President/COO

According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average lifetime value of a healthcare consumer is $1.4 million. That’s an amazing number. Most people will probably spend more money on healthcare than anything else, including housing, schooling and even investments.

Despite that value, we are in the Dark Ages when it comes to providers’ ability to nurture that customer on a journey toward something that looks like loyalty.

Think about the vocabulary we use. We in the healthcare provider and marketing community talk about “engaging” patients. This language is neither warm nor inviting. In other industries, such as hospitality, retail and food service, marketers talk about “delighting” customers. Granted, most people aren’t looking forward to being a healthcare customer, especially if we can avoid it, but personally I’m not looking to be engaged. I would like something a lot more comforting.

And when it comes to loyalty, we talk about retaining patients to avoid “leakage,” defined as when a customer drops out of your health system.

We literally call it leakage. As my teenage daughter would say, “I can’t even.”

So, there’s a long way to go in fashioning a customer-centric approach and nurturing those customers—our patients—with the utmost care and attention. To begin, we could improve the way we welcome customers into our systems.

As I’ve talked this week with clients, the most encouraging idea I’ve heard lately was when someone suggested beginning a customer journey like we would start a friendly get-to-know-you conversation—something that starts and continues for a long time.

Maybe we ought to think about starting those conversations with a customer-centric idea authentic to what we offer. How about something as simple as: “How can I help you today?”

Takeaway: Language matters. Think about how you can build an internal vocabulary focused on serving customers. From there, consider how can you start—and continue to build upon—a more authentic conversation that truly empowers people.

Photo | Getty images

About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.