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Simple advice for medical device and software manufacturers on optimizing KLAS scores.

August 23, 2017

5 Min Read
How to Improve Your KLAS Score

Simple advice for medical device and software manufacturers on optimizing KLAS scores.

Kristian Lars Larsen

Every medical device manufacturer is familiar with KLAS scores. For the past twenty years, KLAS Research has been evaluating medical devices, software, and professional service firms, furnishing healthcare providers with vendor performance rankings.

We wondered if there was a simple idea that, when implemented, could give a company a distinct and measurable advantage, allowing them to increase their KLAS score without substantial technology investments. We talked to Mitch Josephson, head of Strategic Relations at KLAS Research, and it turns out there is a simple formula for KLAS success.

The key component? Customer service.

How Important Are KLAS Scores?

Before we get too far, let's consider the importance of KLAS scores. Why is it important to have a strong KLAS score?

For healthcare providers looking for a health IT solution, a KLAS score provides an impartial indication of the quality of a company's solution. While some may discount the importance of KLAS, you would be hard pressed to find a provider that didn't consider KLAS scores in some part of their vendor evaluation process. A strong KLAS score provides assurances to risk-averse purchasers that the solutions they are considering are trustworthy, stable, and committed to their success.

Furthermore, KLAS scores allow providers a way to evaluate the intangible elements of the purchase, such as ease of implementation, quality of training, and responsiveness of support teams. It can be a relatively straightforward matter to evaluate the technical merits of a software product, but quite another thing to quantify a vendor's reputation for meeting deadlines or responding to support requests.

A Simple Formula

Mitch Josephson believes that vendors tend to focus more on technology than customer relationships. Having spent the past five years visiting boardrooms across the country speaking about the importance of the customer experience, Josephson maintains that the best way to raise your KLAS score is to emphasize superior customer service.

"We believe in what we call the success equation in healthcare. It's this--a good product plus great relationships equals customer success. We also believe, as a derivative formula, that great relationships will always trump great technology," said Josephson.

If you were to break down the 40+ elements that KLAS collects customer input on during an evaluation, you would find that a majority of the score is based not on hardware or technology, but on factors directly related to the customer relationship--communication, management, support, and training.

It's Not the Technology

What Josephson sees over and over is a belief, perhaps misguided, that technology will provide a magic boost to sales or customer satisfaction. This view causes companies to invest their resources heavily into technology while shortchanging the customer experience.

The healthcare industry has seen an increase in acquisitions in the past few years as companies find it easier to acquire technology than to develop it. The hope is that the convergence of two companies will create a synergy that elevates technology, grows market share, and solves their respective business deficiencies. However, what often ends up happening after an acquisition is customer uncertainty and typically, a drop in customer satisfaction.

"If companies could realize the importance of having a customer-centric deployment of these solutions and focused heavily on customer support and experience, then you would have much more success than we see today," acknowledged Josephson.

The Customer Relationship Pyramid

What Josephson spends a good deal of time talking to healthcare solution makers about is how to deliver on the three tiers of the "customer support pyramid." In a nutshell, Josephson focuses on these three pieces:

  • Customer Support--Can you offer superior customer support that is consistent, friendly, timely, and predictable?

  • Account Management--Can you deliver account management that is less about management and more about enabling customer satisfaction?

  • A Customer-centric Culture--Can you build a company culture that focuses on the customer? What if your sales team was commissioned not on product sales, but on customer success?

A Step Forward--Service Design

So how does a device or software maker move forward? A good first step would be the mindful engineering of a customer interaction using a process called "service design." Used for years in the retail industry, service design can radically improve your company's approach to your customer relationships. In its purest form, we can think of service design as the process of creating the best possible experience for your customer as they engage in a transaction with your company.

It's no longer acceptable to drop your solution at your customer's doorstep hoping they figure it out. Solution deployments need to be orchestrated for success. Just as your products go through extensive human factors engineering, you should focus strongly on the human side of your implementations, integrations, and technical support engagements.

Take some time to research the concept of service design. When utilized properly, service design will help you architect simple, repeatable processes that can be applied simultaneously to multiple customers. Your client satisfaction scores will skyrocket and your bottom line will improve dramatically.

Conclusion

Buyers are looking for reliability, reputation, and a proven track record of superior results from device manufacturers. Industry metrics like KLAS scores matter a lot. If you don't have a proactive program in place to increase your KLAS scores, your company is at a huge disadvantage. The good news is that you don't need to spend millions developing or acquiring new technology. Take a step forward today and focus on the basics of the customer relationship.

Kristian Lars Larsen is the director of Brand & Communication and former product manager at True Process, a healthcare IT engineering firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. True Process specializes in helping healthcare device/software manufacturers and hospitals implement, integrate, and support connected medical devices and systems. He can be reached at [email protected].

[Image courtesy of KRISTIAN LARS LARSEN]

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