Rethinking Customer Segmentation

I had the opportunity this week to speak with the founder and CEO of a healthcare technology firm that offers hospitals, including their outpatient clinics and ambulatory facilities, solutions that are designed to increase the productivity of clinical staff and improve patient outcomes.    The linchpin of the solution’s ability to favorably impact outcomes is “interoperability” — the ability of different information technology systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data and use the information that has been exchanged.    More specifically, the ability of the company to demonstrate to a customer a compelling return on investment (“ROI”) is dependent on being able to make the right data available at the right time to the right people.  We all know this, right?!!

While my conversation highlighted the fundamental precept that data exchange between disparate healthcare IT systems requires deliberate collaboration between installed customers and vendors, what was more revealing to me was learning that the CEO had reorganized his sales force in recognition of the importance of the interface between his solution and the prospect’s electronic health record system (“EHR”) to generate a compelling ROI.

Rather than subdivide the market based upon geography and/or the size of a customer or prospect, alone, the primary basis for customer segmentation was the EHR that was installed or in the process of being implemented.      By rethinking customer segmentation — establishing EHR-based sales force assignments — the company intends to leverage specific ROI proof points from similarly situated  customers, which should enable the company to more effectively market the benefits of its interfaced solution, and create a customer  community united by effective and efficient interoperability.   EHR-based customer segmentation can also be used as a basis for allocating resources to product development, marketing, service and delivery programs – imagine creating an “adapter” that leverages prior interface and implementation experience with your most prevalent EHR users that can be bundled with your software application.    Rethinking customer segmentation may enable you to better serve them, which is perhaps the most meaningful and sustainable source of competitive advantage.