- By allowing customers to place orders and pay within the app, Starbucks decreases the time their customers spend waiting in line and eliminates time on the cash register. Online booking and preregistration offer the same functionality to patients
- Digitally engaged customers order two to three times more than those that aren’t. If patients can find open appointments from their phone or computer, they are more likely to book
- Eliminating the need to reenter information makes patients more likely to rebook with you than start the entire process with another provider
- By listing prices and accepted insurance plans upfront, patients can develop a relationship with a provider with their eyes open
- If staff is satisfied with their work situation, they will do their best to represent the company well
The Urgent Care Association recently tweeted that there are more urgent care centers than company-owned Starbucks stores in the U.S. We've always known that the urgent care industry is full of innovators who consistently put the consumer at the center of healthcare and deliver high quality care that is more convenient and more affordable for patients. Considering there were less than 7,500 urgent care locations in the U.S. 5 years ago, there's been incredible growth in this industry.
Although they don't have as many physical locations, Starbucks has been able to do something really special with both their consumers and their staff. Starbucks is an excellent example of more than the power of a pumpkin spice latte. They offer insight into what consumers want in all facets of the service industry–namely speed, online ordering, loyalty that matters, and transparency.
Here are five things urgent care can learn from the king of chain coffee as an on-demand service provider.
1. Speed is Key
It takes more than one latte to make an empire, and making each drink quickly is one of the keys to Starbucks’ success. They streamline the coffee process in-store by offering a set menu made from batched ingredients, and they further facilitate speed by offering online ordering through their app. With their order placed and bill paid, customers may only spend 1-3 minutes inside the shop as they pick up their order and free up that space for the next customer.
By allowing customers to place orders and pay within the app, Starbucks decreases the time their customers spend waiting in line and eliminates time on the cash register. Online booking and preregistration offer the same functionality. By booking an appointment slot rather than waiting in line on a first-come, first-served basis, your staff can manage patients' expected wait time and choose to wait in a more comfortable place–their car or, say, the local Starbucks.
Likewise, preregistered patients spend less time filling out paperwork, and your staff spends less time processing. Less time in and out translates to more patients and more profits for you.
2. Online Ordering/Booking Increases Sales
According to Starbucks, digitally engaged customers order two to three times more than those that aren’t. The reason? The Starbucks app uses machine learning to personalize recommendations based on prior purchases. By subtly showing customers the cake pop they enjoyed last time, they are more likely to tempt them again, increasing sales with little effort. In fact, 52% of Starbucks’ sales happen before the customer enters the doors.
Urgent care providers may not have as many easy carbs to offer, but they have something even more valuable–the ability to save time. Using online booking allows patients to find clinics that have quicker availability and preregister to save time in the office. If patients can find open appointments from their phone or computer, they are more likely to book, bringing dollars through your door.
3. Make It Easy to Be Loyal
Many people love using the Starbucks app because it's easy–the app has a record of your card and past orders, making it almost too easy to reorder your favorite items. Urgent care providers can do the same by establishing a digital relationship with patients.
Using Solv allows patients to rebook with only two taps–all their registration and insurance information is there; they simply need to confirm the time and location of their appointment. Eliminating the need to reenter information makes patients more likely to rebook with you than start the entire process with another provider.
4. Be Transparent
While listing the calories on each item on the Starbucks menu offers valuable health information, it can also add some shock factor–a grande caramel macchiato has how many calories? In urgent care, the last thing anyone wants is a surprise, whether in billing or wait time.
An app that estimates costs and wait times in real-time can help patients make wise choices. By listing prices and accepted insurance plans upfront, patients can develop a relationship with a provider with their eyes open. Surprise billing doesn’t just hurt a patient’s wallet but can deeply impact their perception of the practice. When patients are unhappy, you’ll hear about it, whether they were left waiting longer than expected or hit with a higher-than-expected bill. Those unhappy online reviews can seriously damage your reputation.
5. Create an Employee-Friendly Culture
Do happy employees give good service or bad service? Generally, if staff is satisfied with their work situation, they will do their best to represent the company. At Starbucks, a generous benefits package and fair pay create an environment where employees are typically pretty happy with their jobs and, by extension, are kind to their customers.
Amid the ongoing healthcare workforce crisis, creating an environment where your employees feel valued and can find meaning and focus in their work is more important than ever. Offering incentives for good reviews, recognizing exceptional service, and creating an environment of encouragement and recognition goes a long way toward finding and retaining quality staff.
As you know, your front office staff is one of the first impressions patients have of your clinic. In addition to making your work culture friendly, inclusive, and appreciative, utilizing software that lessens their workload and takes stress off their shoulders, especially in the busiest seasons of the year, can significantly impact morale and, by extension, customer service.
Starbucks didn’t become a billion-dollar business by accident–they leaned heavily on technology to build loyalty and make their workflows more efficient. Urgent care providers can do the same with the right tools.