As discussed in part one of this series, different generations see and do things differently; however, within each of these groups is a desire for innovation. Leaders of all ages within this space need to send a message that each age group matters. When it comes to the baby business, this especially pertains to the Millennial, Gen-X and soon approaching Gen-Z groups. We simply can’t afford to let a generational gap exist in this area. To help respond to this need, here are three key areas that should be focused on to build and sustain cross-generational communication and cooperation inside and outside of the organization.
1. Be More Inclusive: This is the first step before digging into the more granular details of this process. Before all else, ensure that every age group is included and made to feel like a required piece of the puzzle. Each generational division boasts invaluable knowledge and assets – all which should be carefully integrated into the patient process. 2. Manage Expectations: Expectations can be managed if we first seek to understand, and to understand, we need communication – specifically, multi-channel communication, as that is how maternity patients are primarily communicating today. This also needs to happen as quickly as possible, as the expectations are already set. This leads us into our next point…
3. Aggressively pursue communication channels that are already embraced by younger generational cohorts: Live Web and video chat, YouTube and social media are all innovative new avenues that hospitals should be taking to embrace younger generational cohorts. For example, in the women’s services section of your hospital’s website, offer an informational YouTube video addressing commonly asked questions and concerns. Also, establishing a strong social media presence enables you to respond to patient inquires in near real-time. Or, live chat can help support a more personal, quality relationship. For instance, as opposed to sitting in a call queue, the patient can deploy a live chat session within seconds.
Women’s services leaders need to understand that to see a successful outcome – before true compliance is achieved – many communicational and cultural barriers will have to be broken down and bridges built. Each generation group must receive information in a form and frequency that offers them utility.
Every generation brings something special to the table for the hospital and healthcare space. Millennials are influencing healthcare with a new lexicon – which is beginning to impact the expectations of systems designed to care for patients, caregivers and the diverse demands of their lives and families – while healthcare organizations are still being largely led by the Baby Boomer generation and their expectations, methods and processes and terms we’ve dragged along from the 70s and 80s. A huge consideration must be these two groups, Gen-X, millennials and soon to be Gen-Z are both our childbearing universe and the source of our staff and emerging leaders.
Trust and generosity are not readily available; they are things that must be built over time. Having been an executive recruiter focusing in women’s services leadership for almost twenty years, I have come to learn this fact all too well. As a long-time leader in the healthcare, sales and consulting spaces, I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting inspiring women’s health leaders many who have brought a multitude of transformative ideas to the table. This observation, however, was put out almost as quickly as the spark was started.
Millennials are oftentimes pinned as being too dependent; however, as many Gen Y’ers know, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Jeff Fromm, EVP of advertising agency Barkley and co-author of “Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever,” says it best: “Millennials are often inaccurately portrayed through the prism of youth and all the character traits that go along with it—narcissism, rebellion and entitlement to name a few.”
In actuality, millennials are a quickly maturing group. In fact, they’re starting families earlier than ever before, with research showing that now is the best time to reach out to millennial mothers-to-be. For instance, a new study commissioned by Barkley shows that among the older half of millennials (those aged 25-34) there are over 10 million households with children. And with millennials representing 80 percent of the nation’s four million annual births, the number of new millennial parents is slated to continue rapid expansion in adding children over the next decade.
Research also shows that this age group has stopped looking for advice and information from traditional marketing avenues during this critical time of their lives. According to an Experian Simmons Study, already 32 percent of millennials don’t like advertising in general which is a number certain to rise, compared to 37 percent of the general population. Conversely, 95 percent of millennials say that friends are the most credible source of product information, according to a recent SocialChorus survey. While Word of Mouth is a dominant information stream, this group also aggressively pursues information online.
There are two lessons to be learned from these stats for labor and delivery operations managers and women’s service line leaders. The first: this generation steers clear of traditional advertising peppered with pushy messages – they want information that is sophisticated, understandable and yet personal to them. The second: they trust their peers and the power of word-of-mouth over any form of advertising any day.
Women’s health leaders may find themselves overwhelmed with the thought of adapting to these preferred means of communication. Nevertheless, this exciting shift must start with the leaders in this service area.
It’s time for women’s health leaders to make this case. The question is now how this can be done. In our next post, we’ll provide some answers to this question, as well as touch upon how this applies to Gen X mothers.