Whether B2C or B2B, most websites have the same challenges: how to engage a diverse audience with differing needs and expectations and help them reach their goals efficiently. Each individual user should be able to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. They need the right information, at the right time, tailored to them – which is a considerable challenge when users may have notably different requirements, even if they’re within the same specialist field.

The world of medical technology is a case in point. Healthcare professionals have different needs to journalists. And within healthcare itself, users will still be looking for a range of types of information, from the specialist who wants detailed technical information on products, why they might be better than the alternatives and the difference they can make to patients, to the procurement officer who wants information on costs and reassurance that the product offers value for money. Then there will be professionals looking for career opportunities and perhaps shareholders looking for financial information. There might also be patients who want to research the options being offered to them and students gathering information to further their knowledge.

But at the moment, as in many fields outside B2C, users visiting medical technology websites are unlikely to be enjoying the smooth, state-of-the-art experiences they have grown to expect as general consumers. There hasn’t yet been the investment in new technologies that create the far more seamless and personalised website experiences we’re all used to on the best consumer sites. In some cases, even the basics haven’t yet been covered, with poor information architecture and non-responsive sites making life difficult for users who want to view them on their smartphone. The good news is that this means that any business prepared to spend some time, effort and resource bringing their website into line with high user expectations will find themselves far ahead of their competitors, as well as creating the foundations for future innovation.

So, what needs to be done to transform medical technology sites and bring them up-to-date? How can medical technology companies best deal with the multitude of user needs – and how can they ensure users are swiftly funnelled into the correct journeys? Of course, entry points for individual users will provide an initial clue as to who they might be and what kind of information they require. Analysing entry points and bounce rates will also provide insights into how those pages are performing, though whether bounce is happening because people have, or haven’t, found what they’re looking for needs to be carefully considered.

Filtering users through broad occupation early on in their journey is a simple way of saving the user time and effort spent in looking for what they want. Another option is simply asking the user for more information about themselves, taking care that this happens at an appropriate moment. Being asked for your name, job title, address and more on first arriving at a site can come across as intrusive and be off-putting. But a friendly pop-up appearing after a user has spent some time on a site, informing them that by giving a bit of information they will benefit from a more tailored experience may be more positively received. Providing information can also be incentivised, but businesses should always remember that they need to be adding considerable value in order for users to surrender up their data – anything that seems like hard work for little reward, or that asks for information that makes users may not want to share, like date of birth, is likely to be ignored.

Artificial intelligence including capabilities for machine learning can improve interactions and personalise customer journeys through smarter use of vast quantities of data. There are many off-the-peg solutions that can be integrated with existing websites to provide predictive analytics in order to not only gain insights on past behaviour but see how users may act in the future. And the more sophisticated artificial intelligence becomes, the more subtle and nuanced individual customer experience can become. For example, rather than every website visit triggering a repetitive marketing email, when a user may just have been quickly checking something, algorithms will be able to judge whether that particular user is at a point in the journey where such an email is a useful nudge, or whether it’ll be instantly deleted as yet more digital noise.

Customer service is also an area where AI comes into its own; Gartner believes that 85% of consumer interactions will be non-human by 2020. Unlike humans, AI can hold multiple conversations at the same time and serve up relevant answers in a fraction of the time it would take a real live person. In addition, the increasing sophistication of conversational AI with natural language processing means that interactions between AI-powered chatbots and users in themselves are becoming ever more natural-sounding. This doesn’t mean there are no jobs left for real people in customer service, just that AI can take on the heavy lifting, allowing humans to play a more strategic role and to deal with more complex or unexpected questions.

Medical technology, like a lot of other specialist fields in healthcare and B2B, offers a lot of exciting opportunities to transform the customer experience in digital. Those companies that are future-focused and take the time now to invest in new technologies, so they can learn more about their customers, make it easier for them to achieve their goals and give them better all-round customer service will be laying the foundations to survive and thrive in the years ahead.

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