When you think about customer engagement, it is quite easy to make the connection with customer satisfaction. In the for profit world the importance of winning new customers and keeping the customers to generate increased profits is a given. As expected, when I first searched for information on this topic I found plenty of examples of how for profit businesses were using social media for a business purpose. However, being from the Not-For-Profit world I wanted examples of how social media could be used to engage clients for the purpose of increasing their satisfaction with the services provided.
While looking for good examples of Customer Engagement in Social Media, particularly looking for instances that happen in the Not-For-Profit area, I found Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. This is not surprising really as you consider that this is the hospital that live tweeted a heart surgery in February 2014 coinciding with Heart Month to raise awareness of heart disease and to demystify what happens in the emergency room.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences has over 1.2 million patient visits each year. Their mission “is to care for our patients and their families when it matters most”. Its vision “is to invent the future of healthcare” guided by the following values: excellence, collaboration, accountability, and engagement. Sunnybrook’s Digital strategy is clearly outlined and its aim is to “improve the patient experience, spread news about the organization’s research and innovations, engage with the community and leverage health expertise for patient education”. They publish a Your Health Matters blog providing healthy tips from Sunnybrook’s experts and are active on traditional social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Of particular interest is how they have engaged patients through social media. In their Patient Engagement Section they have a series of patient surveys that aim to get input on operational or emerging issues to better meet their customer’s needs. Whether looking to increase visiting hours, or having music in the emergency room, they are interested in hearing perspectives from patients and they publish the results of what they heard and the actions they are going to take. They use a variety of tools to elicit feedback including surveys, discussion areas and videos. I was particularly drawn to the discussion on Physician Assisted Death which was moderated by one of Sunnybrook’s experts. As with most of the “surveys” there is an education component outlining information surrounding the topic and where people can seek further guidance. Additionally, there is a moderated section to get peoples perspectives on some key questions including what additional information they require and where they feel that doctor assisted death should take place. The discussion about visiting hours includes real staff talking about what the implications of changing visiting hours could be. When I asked Sunnybrook staff about what works best Sivan Keren Young, Sunnybrook’s Director of Digital and Visual Communications, noted “Our experience has been that the social media audience responds best to authenticity. These days, most brands are expected to be active on social, but what differentiates you from others is how well you authentically connect with your audience. That takes a concerted effort, good strategy and the right kind of people to voice your social accounts”. The information gathered will be helpful in planning the way forward for the hospital. Sunnybrook is clearly at the leading edge of demonstrating the value of customer engagement in a not for profit world to efficiently use limited resources to meet the needs of their customers.
In the article To Get More Out of Social Media, Think Like and Anthropologist it is suggested “despite its potential, companies under leverage the social media stream for market intelligence. Analysts look for data confirming a predetermined viewpoint, or view the social media conversation as something to be managed rather than listened to. They frame listening as a descriptive exercise rather than the high-potential strategic project it should become.” Paying attention to the quality of the conversation and the context in which it is happening is as important as the size of the sample that the information is coming from. The American Hospital Association in the article How Hospitals Can Make the Best Use of Social Media highlights the importance for hospitals to develop social communities with patients where they can interact with the hospital and others in a more comfortable way. Quite often when the patient is in the hospital the conversation is controlled and limited to the particular medical issue at hand. In order to get more valuable information to improve the overall patient experience it is important to develop communication opportunities outside the hospital setting. Social tools provide the hospital the opportunity for feedback by creating health care conversations, engaging in conversations that are already happening online or simply monitoring those conversations. Sunnybrook clearly is a leader in using social media as part of building a community of care and responding to an ever changing healthcare landscape.
Lessons for Others
Customer engagement done right on social media allows for learning for both the customer and the product/service provider and for knowledge transfer that can overcome consumer misconceptions. This is helpful for product or service providers to avoid making changes that do not really meet the customer’s needs.
Customer engagement through social media is helpful to reduce costs and improve effectiveness as the organization can actively engage customers in the development of the services they receive.
Consumers are already going online to discover information about a product or service and it is important to engage in that process to understand their needs and to get real information about how your strategy is being or will be received.
Customer engagement through social media helps provide decision support as it provides for a much greater understanding of customer concerns than can be gathered by simple surveys.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Name of Organization Contact: Sivan Keren Young
Authored by: Mike MacEachern
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Fournier, S., Quelch, J., & Reitveld, B. (2016, Aug. 17). To Get More Out of Social Media, Think Like and Anthropologist, Harvard Business Review, retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/08/to-get-more-out-of-social-media-think-like-an-anthropologist
American Hospital Association Society for Healthcare Strategy and Marketing Development (2016, Oct. 12). How Hospitals Can Make the Best Use of Social Media, Trustee, retrieved from http://www.trusteemag.com/articles/949-how-hospitals-can-make-the-best-use-of-social-media
Sunnybrook live tweets Heart Surgery – February 20, 2014 retrieved February 15, 2017 https://twitter.com/Sunnybrook/status/435909356840706048/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Retrieved February 15, 2017 from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre website http://sunnybrook.ca/content/?page=about-us-home
Sunnybrook Digital Strategy. Retrieved February 15, 2017 from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre website http://sunnybrook.ca/content/?page=39442
Sunnybrook Patient Engagement. Retrieved February 15, 2017 from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre website http://sunnybrook.ca/content/?page=patient-engagement-consultation
Sunnybrook Hospital (2015, Jun 25) Should we change hospital visiting hours? Video File, Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip2xoVXfS7c