Communicating at the Point of Collision

Communicating at the Point of Collision

Not long ago, contracting the dreaded stomach bug meant an afternoon spent in agony and feeble attempts to summon enough energy to visit your doctor for medical care. In the past few years, rapid innovation in healthcare technology has changed this paradigm. You can now access a clinician right from your mobile phone—as easily as you can order soup from your favorite takeout restaurant.

Companies such as Pager connect patients with care via mobile chat, delivering faster access, better communication and a more personalized healthcare experience without any physical contact. The chat-based app marries human touch and AI to streamline the interaction and direct the patient to the right care, at the right time, in the most cost-effective manner.

We see this digital revolution in more than just the healthcare industry. In 2018, U.S. venture investments reached $131 billion across 8,948 deals, a staggering increase over 2017’s $61.1 billion invested over just 198 transactions. A large portion of these investments support the growth of emerging technologies that disrupt every industry and individual business. As communicators, we must convey the transformative value of technology disruption to the customers, investors and other stakeholders who matter most to our brands and reputations.

Elevating Experiences for the End User

It’s not surprising that business leaders approach disruption with trepidation.  A recent study by the CMO Club found that CMOs perceive industry disruption and technological change as the greatest impacts on their brands today. This unsettles legacy business leaders who have known their market and their customers for years, perhaps decades.

Earlier this month, G&S hosted Orange Jam Live, a roundtable discussion that convened area communicators to share experiences and challenges regarding the influx of new technologies bombarding their legacy industries. Surprisingly (or not), participants realized they faced the same issues and connected on similar topics such as launching advanced technological products to customers, utilizing data and analytics for research and navigating a lack of interoperability within the healthcare system.

Across the various industries represented at the panel, the ideas converged in a common theme of the importance of demonstrating how new technologies directly benefit the end-user. To win market share, a brand must focus on communicating how its technology provides a better experience for the customer, consumer or patient, rather than falling into the “feature dazzle” trap—that is, focusing on the exciting new features of a product or service rather than on the real benefits to the end user. Brands that indulge in hailing their disruptive technologies without making this critical leap risk alienating their customers with messages that lack meaning to the average consumer.

Disruption in Action

As technology penetrates every industry, we see the growth of innovative applications in once-traditional industries. The increase of telehealth visits, for instance, particularly in rural areas, highlights the role technology plays in helping to make healthcare services more convenient. If a child is suffering from a rare disorder and her parents bring her to an emergency room without a dedicated specialist on staff, her family faces a long trek to find another provider, potentially with the added stress of an out-of-network insurance situation. With the advent of telemedicine, she can be evaluated by a highly experienced provider using a live video feed right from her hospital room, without the challenges and hassle of the physical visit in order to receive care.

Investment in emerging technologies for the agriculture space is also on the rise. In 2018, AgTech witnessed bigger deals, growth in late-stage investments and greater exit opportunities for investors, according to AgFunder’s latest AgriFood Tech Investing Report. These market changes directly impact how communicators target their messages to farmers, scientists and technologists. From precision farming practices that enable growers to monitor crops more closely to drones that collect satellite imagery to predict yields, technology adoption relies on strategic communications that impart an understanding of how each new development makes a meaningful difference for its user.

The growing maturity of AI and biometrics in the financial services industry produces a more seamless experience for both the banker and the customer. According to The Financial Brand, “the importance of innovation and developing new solutions that take advantage of data, digital technologies and new delivery platforms has never been more important for financial services.” Research from Fiserv*, a leading global provider of financial services technology solutions, found that digital banking usage has continued to grow significantly among baby boomers, generation X and millennials in 2019. That’s why it’s critical to connect with consumers by communicating the real technology benefits they can experience where they are, highlighting how they can improve their daily lives. And while data remains a critical driver in today’s marketplace, tapping into customer insights allows us to effectively infuse marketing communications with messages that evoke emotion, a key factor in the purchasing decision.

Getting Personal with Consumer /Patient Communications: Fintech & Healthtech

From a communicator’s point of view, healthcare and financial services exhibit many similarities when it comes to how we reach our core audiences. Both industries face heavy regulation and, ironically, were not initially built with a customer-first perspective. Emerging fintech and healthtech companies, from Oscar Health to Ellevest, are forcing these industries to transform and adapt to meet the evolving needs of today’s always-on consumers and patients.

Communications around money and health are deeply personal, and putting yourself in a consumer or patient’s shoes can be a challenge. Understanding your audience as a varied group of people, each with his or her own unique perspective and points of engagement, is the first step. While data and analytics help inform our strategy, they carry little weight without human insight. That’s why approaching communications from a consumer-first, rather than data-first, perspective is imperative.

Here are the essential elements to effectively communicate technology innovation to the end-user.

  • Compelling storytelling. Breathe life into your stories through real examples and anecdotes that highlight the benefits of your product and/or service through the experience of the consumer.
  • Showcase value. While healthcare and banking may be criticized as transactional industries, communications must focus on the value provided. Whether that’s in a branch, at a hospital or online, the value that a prospective customer or patient stands to gain should be front and center in the messaging.
  • Prioritize audiences. Create the right messaging strategy with the end-user in mind. Consider the customer journey and the patient experience to envision every touchpoint for interaction and optimize the experience you provide at each.
  • Engage the right stakeholders. Successful technology adoption and integration is critical to the launch of any new product. Connecting with internal business stakeholders to obtain their buy-in is the first step, unifying your team under a shared vision toward that success.
  • Make complex data understandable and digestible. That means avoiding jargon or defining it where necessary; visualizing data in an elegant, understandable format; and avoiding information overload to preclude a “TL;DR” situation (the reader-repelling “Too Long; Didn’t Read”!).
  • Understand all critical regulations. Whether it be institutional policy, HIPAA, the FDA or the SEC, be cognizant of the regulations that impact your communications and work with a team that can be agile in meeting them at every step in the communications plan.

Communicating What Consumers Value

In legacy industries like agribusiness, financial services and healthcare, it’s tempting to view technology as an onslaught that threatens traditional operations and brands. Conveying the transformative value of new technologies to the end consumer can not only smooth the path to adoption but also encourage consistency in brand innovation. Communications that focus on the value and impact of technology development, rather than on the development itself, strengthen the relationship between consumer and brand, demonstrating a deep understanding of consumer needs. As the ongoing cycle of innovation continues, fostering this trust in your brand will ensure that despite the inevitable disruption to your industry and business, your customers will remain intact.

*Fiserv is a current client of G&S Business Communications.

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    As Senior Vice President, Rachael Adler brings a passion for connecting people, opportunities and ideas to her strategic counseling approach. With over 15 years of providing strategic leadership to healthcare, fintech and professional services clients, Rachael rose to her current role as senior vice president from an account executive role at CooperKatz, which was acquired by G&S in 2018. She also plays an instrumental role in furthering business development for the agency. Previously, Rachael spent five years in the non-profit world, pursuing a passion for helping others through implementing integrated marketing campaigns and activating community development programs. Her collaborative leadership style and dedicated client partnerships helped land her on the PR News 2017 “Top Women in PR” list. Rachael received her bachelor’s degree in communications from the Pennsylvania State University. A self-proclaimed soccer mom of three and an outdoor enthusiast, Rachael credits her father with the resilience, commitment and determination that has contributed to her personal and professional success.

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