The Next Era of Customer Listening: Customers Will Show the Way 

When we listen to our customers, they will show us the way. They will tell us everything we need to know to deliver the care they need and, in return, we earn their trust and loyalty.  

As I reflect on the past 12 months, this realization has become a new reality and I feel a sense of hope and optimism that this reality is penetrating healthcare and corporate America too. This sense of hope and optimism comes from two sources: 

1. Over the past year, it has felt like healthcare leaders are reconnecting to the heart of their business – the humans (both customers and employees). I was pleasantly surprised to see some evidence that suggests this isn’t just a feeling; it’s a reality. Google Trends shows a steady increase in interest over time for “customer experience,” “patient experience” and “employee experience.” This trend creates hope and credence to the importance of the human experience. 

2. The second source of optimism comes from spending two days at the CXM 360 Conference in East Lansing, Michigan. During these two days, I witnessed how Michigan State University’s CXM Master’s program is reshaping the narrative of customer experience (CX). A narrative that has been set by survey software companies for far too long. The narrative that they are reshaping includes these shifts:

  • FROM CX as a separate silo TO CX as a strategic partner across the business.
  • FROM CX as the survey people TO CX as subject matter experts in leveraging all sources of customer data to guide strategic decisions and improvement efforts.
  • FROM CX as the keeper of customer insight TO CX as democratizing voice of the customer. Putting the customer’s voice into the hands of the enterprise and giving the customer the presence they need to always be top of mind.

This reflection (and optimism) has me wondering, “so now what?” As healthcare leaders reconnect to the heart of their business, what’s next? As healthcare leaders wake up to the reality that when we listen, customers will guide the way, where do we go next?

Customer Voices Report - Listening at Scale with Artificial Intelligence

The Next Era of Customer Listening is Here

It’s an era that includes four key essentials:

  1. Mindset: Healthcare leaders will become more convicted in their belief that business outcomes and customer listening are inter-dependent. One cannot exist without the other.
  1. Data Source: Healthcare leaders will prioritize the unsolicited and unstructured data that lives within their walls. They will prioritize this data source because
    • They realize their greatest opportunity is to listen to their customers in moments of struggle.
    • They realize that AI gives them the ability to listen at scale to unstructured data.
    • They realize that when they listen, customers will show them the way.
  2. Data-backed Storytelling: Healthcare leaders will realize that storytelling is more than public speaking and data visualizations. They are realizing that data-backed storytelling is how to incite action. As a result, they will have dedicated data-backed storytellers on their team who are responsible for:
    • Finding customer stories in their own customer conversations
    • Crafting customer stories that connect to the heads and hearts of their audience
    • Telling customer stories to their team and leadership to inform decision-making
    • Supporting the business as they act on what they’ve learned from listening to the customer voice
  3. Action: Healthcare leaders will shift resources away from conventional survey programs and start directing action from the conversations customers have each day as they navigate their care journey. This shift will include:
    • Prioritizing solutions that fix systemic issues, which are often processes that have unanticipated consequences that cause customer friction.
    • Proactively reaching out to customers whose situation is delaying or preventing care.
    • Data and analytic teams will incorporate the outcomes from machine learning into their predictive models that seek to anticipate future customer needs.
    • Giving the frontline agents access to coaching notes, so they have on-demand access to the information they need to support and serve their customers.

When we listen to our customers, they will show us the way. While healthcare leaders are reconnecting to the heartbeat of their business, they are fighting decades of systems, metrics, and processes that have been built to listen through survey programs – Survey programs that leave both customers and employees frustrated.

The next era is upon us. It’s an era that customers and leaders appreciate because it focuses on listening to the unsolicited and authentic customer voices. Voices that already exist in the business today. Voices that have sat dormant for decades. They are waiting to be unlocked. And the future is bright.

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Leslie Pagel is the Chief Evangelist at Authenticx, a conversation analytics company dedicated to improving the way healthcare companies engage with patients. In this role, she creates awareness, across the healthcare industry, of more efficient and effective ways for healthcare organizations to deliver on their customer objectives. With over two decades of working with customer experience (CX) teams, Leslie helps clients actualize the voice of the patient to show how these voices prompt meaningful action.


Authenticx was founded to analyze and activate customer interaction data at scale. Why? We wanted to reveal transformational opportunities in healthcare. We are on a mission to help humans understand humans. With a combined 100+ years of leadership experience in pharma, payer, and healthcare organizations, we know first-hand the challenges and opportunities that our clients face because we’ve been in your shoes.

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