The Empowered Customer Speaks (and you’d better be listening)

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock (and it’s okay if you have, as long as you come out…), consumers have changed. Your patients have changed. How they interact with the people, businesses, and brands in their life has changed too. And if you don’t switch gears, learn what makes them tick, and adjust your communications with them, you’ll be unable to compete.

This is not just an idle threat. It’s actually happening right now. Take JCPenny, for instance.

Today JCPenny launched a new TV ad campaign on YouTube and Facebook apologizing to their customers *(scroll down for video). They fired the CEO, brought back his predecessor, and have promised to put more promotions back in place. These are very significant changes ~ and all because the consumer outcry was deafening (translation: a 4 billion dollar loss).*

In Brian Solis’s new book, What’s the Future of Business?: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences, he discusses how to understand the new customer and create rich experiences for them so you can be proactive, rather than reactive. So you can avoid what he calls “Digital Darwinism”.  JCPenny is certainly having to be RE-active – considering their huge loss of customers and revenue. But they are being PRO-active in that at least they have started to listen, admit their mistakes (transparency), and change their business model (adapt).

How much time do you spend worrying about negative reviews, tweets, Facebook posts, or the thousands of other ways your patients can communicate to the masses online? Instead of spending your time, energy, and money in a defensive posture, or worse – burying your head in the sand hoping you won’t be the next victim, why not learn about this new connected consumer (your patient)?

The new empowered consumer “participates in their world” via technology. Brian describes them as “always on, sharing real world experiences as they happen with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Socialcam”.

And the coveted “word of mouth” referral source is still just as important. But think bigger. Social media allows word of mouth to be broadcast to tens, hundreds, or thousands of friends and followers, all with a swift keystroke.

So… are you creating relationships with your patients? Do you know what they really want? Do you know how they behave? Brian suggests (as do we) that you “invest in defining not only a positive experience, but also a wonderfully shareable experience.”

But you can’t create the best experience if you don’t know what they want in the first place. It would be like operating on a patient and having the consultation afterwards. It sounds absurd, but that’s truly what we’re talking about.  And JCPenny has just figured out that they should do the consult BEFORE surgery to have the best outcome. They listened, learned, engaged, and adapted.

I highly recommend you pick up Brian’s book because he does an incredible job of articulating who your new connected patient base is (he calls them “Generation C”) and how the landscape for businesses will be forever changed. As he says… #InnovateOrDie

*Click for today’s complete story in Forbes