Don’t Neglect the “Face” of Your Home-Based Care Program
Let’s imagine a marketing campaign you and your team worked on for months is about to launch. The creative execution is solid, messaging is aligned to strategy and the media plan will get your message in front of the right audience. High fives all around! Yes, but did you introduce the campaign to your employees first?
Strategic marketing and communication efforts for home-based care organizations are designed to educate target audiences about the expert care and support available, highlight the range of services you provide and drive preference for your program. Key messages are directed externally toward potential patients, family healthcare decision makers, physicians and other referral sources. These efforts to inform and engage external audiences are critical to achieve broad organizational objectives, such as increasing ADC and LOS. However, there is another important audience that cannot be neglected – your internal team.
This isn’t just another audience. Your internal audience, composed of employees, volunteers and board members, interacts daily with your patients and their families, physicians, non-physician referral sources, office staffs, business leaders and other members of your community. They literally are the “face” of your home-based care program. As ambassadors for your organization, they carry messages about your organization into the community, answer questions and have the potential to influence the post-acute or end-of-life care decision. This is a big responsibility. Are they prepared for such an important task?
Anything your team does or says – good or bad – is a reflection of your organization and shapes the perception of your program in the minds of people in your community. For example, if a receptionist doesn’t treat informational calls with a sense of urgency, the caller may question the integrity and reliability of your program. As a result, the potential referral may choose another program. Or, if a member of your care team seems to dismiss concerns expressed by the patient’s caregiver, the caregiver might share the negative experience with family and friends or write a Google review detailing their experience.
Your employees should be your best brand advocates. However, just working for a company does not a brand advocate make! It takes time and continuous effort to engage employees. A study by Dale Carnegie Training found that companies with engaged employees outperform companies without engaged employees by more than 200 percent. Engaged employees give more effort and are more likely to embody your brand’s values and culture.
Just as you invest time and resources in communicating with external audiences, it is vital to devote time and effort to fully engaging with your internal audiences. Help them to feel a part of your program and understand how their role impacts its success. Beyond providing them with information about events and other happenings within your organization, do your employees, volunteers and board members understand the strategic direction and key business objectives for your home-based care program? A focused effort to increase awareness and understanding of your program’s business and marketing strategies and their role in making them a reality can further engage an already dedicated team of employees, volunteers and board members. This will help them embrace your values, culture and what your brand stands for.
Chris Bailey, president and CEO of Bailey Brand Consulting, captured the essence of engaging your internal audience in an article about transforming a brand from the inside out. He said, “The brand experience encompasses every touch point — not just externally, but also (and especially) internally. The consumer-facing aspects of a brand and the internal culture of an organization are inextricably intertwined.”
Exceptional results are achieved when internal operations, processes and engagement with external audiences work together as one. To help ensure that marketing efforts are brought to life through positive customer experiences, engage your employees as brand advocates.
To effectively communicate your brand and its characteristics to external audiences, build your brand from the inside. Here are a few things you can do to help ensure that your employees live your brand:
- Clearly communicate the brand promise – help employees understand your brand characteristics and the reasons to believe in your brand, products and services. Provide employees with brand ambassador cards featuring the mission, brand attributes, and brand promise statement.
- Preview new marketing campaigns with employees before they’re “out in the market” – introduce a new campaign and creative materials to your employees before they see them on TV, hear them on the radio or see them as they’re scrolling their Facebook feed.
- Ensure all customer touchpoints are aligned with company values and your brand story – customers’ experiences with your brand can take many forms, whether they are learning about your services from their physician, receive care in their home, read content on your website, or speak with an admissions or customer service representative. Make sure each touchpoint effectively conveys your culture and brand.
Engaged employees are your best brand advocates; they are the bridge between your brand’s messaging and customer experiences.