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How can we reframe an ‘unprecedented’ situation to make practical change?

Billy Williams, head of digital at digital strategy and innovation company, Distinction, explains how an active strategy approach and mindset can support care providers.

Covid-19 put the health and social care sector under immense pressure and the crisis is far from over.

Rapid decisions had to be made to navigate the fast-changing landscape, with many long-term plans temporarily pushed aside as new and urgent priorities emerged.

Certainly, when it comes to business or marketing strategies, efforts may have been focused on adapting your comms to reassure clients and families, staff and stakeholders during this difficult time.

Without realising it, if you’ve operated like this then you may have had an insight into how having an active strategy can work. This has been the case for home care provider Bluebird Care. It recently collaborated with digital strategy agency Distinction on a website redesign project, which launched last year, boosting new visitors by 68%.

As a home healthcare franchise business, Bluebird Care is a complex organisation with numerous stakeholders. Compassion is key, yet so is the need to spread the right messages to support its franchisee growth, recruitment of care assistants and ensure its customers receive the best care services in line with their needs.

Bluebird Care is intrinsically a people-focused business. However, this ethos wasn’t captured in its previous website and other digital channels. Engaging with three disparate audiences on one website was challenging and often, confusing.

At Distinction, we adopt an active strategy approach when working with our clients. It puts the needs of the customer first but is flexible enough to respond to market changes.

If external factors change the needs of your customer then the agility of active strategy allows you to quickly change direction accordingly. And so we worked with Bluebird Care to help them shift to this mindset.

In the early stages of our project, we ran extensive workshops with all stakeholders (including customers) to understand their pain points and start creating a website with a user experience that worked for everyone.

The insights were invaluable, identifying the true customer experience from start to end.

We delved deeper, asking questions to find out what website visitors knew or were feeling before clicking to learn more about care services. What steps did they take before and after applying for a care assistant role, even down to making a motivational cup of tea? Or how many times did a prospective franchise owner visit the website before registering interest?

Presenting this information to the Bluebird Care stakeholders led to a moment of clarity across the board: success was about their clients and the people they relied on to run their business well. They put themselves in other people’s shoes and recognised the value of a customer-centric approach.

Another key element of active strategy is embracing the idea that things won’t be perfect. With this mindset, it’s better to try more ideas, fail and learn fast, and make iterative improvements than it is to waste months striving for first-time perfection.

We’re proud of how Bluebird Care’s website looks and performs – indeed, new visitors have increased by 68% – but even that was the result of taking quick action on insight as the first version wasn’t perfect.

Around 18 months before the latest careers site went live, we launched a separate jobs portal to attract new recruits. This resulted in a disjointed experience, with little or no context to what being a part of the Bluebird Care team meant, a key facet of what makes Bluebird Care who they are.

Although it was nonetheless an improvement on a previous iteration, we realised it wasn’t working as effectively as it needed to. Quickly, we moved on to find what would work and developed the current platform that streamlines the customer experience for all three of Bluebird Care’s core audiences.

Without this active strategy mindset, it would have been easy to continue down the same route, but we knew that success depended on being able to take swift action where needed. With this move, career applications rose by 67% per month.

Efficient use of resources is key in healthcare so it’s imperative to work in a way that delivers ROI. If Bluebird Care didn’t align with our workshops in the early stages, embracing agile working with a customer-centric approach, it would risk wasting finite resources. Throughout we constantly asked questions, often changing our route forward to fit with real world events. With this insight, and an agile approach to planning, we were able to deliver a successful project.

Much of this success was also due to our alignment with our marketing contact at Bluebird Care. As an agency, forming good relationships is useful but for us, working to an active strategy, it’s essential. Bluebird Care works with a 200-strong network of franchise owners, so understanding everyone’s needs relies on clear and honest communication, which was initiated from the start.

Active strategy isn’t a complicated, unachievable way of working. But it requires a mindset shift and aligned partners to realise the benefits. 2020 has shown us that business agility is vital to a company’s growth and survival.

For the people-focused health and social care sector, moving quick is also essential for continuing to deliver a compassionate level of service. Whether rebuilding your website, improving customer experience or searching for better ways to reach your market, it’s time to harness the agility of active strategy to make practical and positive change.

Photo Credit – Bluebird

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