Healthcare entities are ultimately dependent on customers and their continued patronage for survival, and prosperity. Given this, marketers must focus significant attention on addressing the wants and needs for target markets through the provision of superior product solutions. If marketers can gain a loyal following of customers, long-term success becomes a distinct possibility.
Raphel and Raphel’s Loyalty Ladder is a series of five steps-prospects, shoppers, customers, clients, and advocates-representing progressive levels of customer loyalty.
Individuals who might potentially have wants and needs for the goods and services of particular entities are considered prospects. A medical clinic providing general medical services in a community is immersed within an environment of prospects.
Individuals who advance beyond the prospect stage and inquire about the goods and services offered by entities are considered to be shoppers. Shoppers have learned from organizations and associated product offerings and are debating about extending their patronage.
When individuals purchase and consume the goods and services offered by organizations, they become customers. Perhaps an individual unexpectedly becomes ill and visits a clinic that he or she has seen advertised in a local newspaper. With this person’s visit, the clinic has gained a new customer.
Clients are those individuals who regularly purchase goods and services from given organizations. An individual who annually visits a particular medical clinic for his or her physical examination would be considered a client.
Advocates are individuals who have been so impressed with given establishments and associated product offerings that they openly encourage others to extend their patronage.
Advocates stand at the top of Loyalty Ladder. They are the most valuable patrons of establishments for an obvious reason: through their testimonials to others, advocates generate new patrons for entities.