Let’s Talk About Change
I’ve been a blood banker for about 17 years. For the first 10-12 of those years, I thought this industry just didn’t change. I felt like blood centers were using the same basic practices they had used in the ‘80s and technology wasn’t changing that fast – we still had a bag and a needle. Platelet procedures were kind of archaic, and the name of the game was to collect as much as you could with no real restrictions. Then, kind of like an avalanche, everything started changing.
From a blood donor recruitment standpoint, we started with about 18 months where we had too much inventory. Everyone remember the period of glut? Then we all pulled back on recruitment and what happened? Demand picked up, and we were all short. So we scrambled. Now it seems as though surpluses and shortages vary week to week.
It’s extremely difficult to always have the right product at the right time when the need is constantly changing, but over the last several years, we’ve found six tools that make a significant impact on fulfilling tomorrow’s blood donor recruitment needs today:
- Cascading Metrics
- Goals By Blood Type
- Pipeline Reporting
- Channel Marketing
- Predictive Modeling
- Proactive Planning
Cascading metrics refers to a process of aligning the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your entire organization and making sure everyone is working towards the same goal. It’s a way of organizing goals to give executives a line-of-sight view of performance at all levels, and to enable managers and executives to monitor progress and pull the right levers needed to get things back on track.
As blood bankers, we all measure a lot, but we are in a complex business. It is not uncommon to have 16 KPIs at the executive level, 22 KPIs at the business unit level, and as many as 24 at the departmental or workgroup level.
It’s essential to measure the right things. It takes time, meetings, and collaboration because determining your key business drivers isn’t easy, but is critical for organizational change.
Goals By Blood Type
Goals by blood type is a bit of a subset, but knowing what is needed by blood type and holding the team accountable for hitting those goals is critical. On any given day, we can expire ABs and be on appeal for O negative. We need to get scientific about recruitment by type.
Pipeline reporting is widely used in sales, but we also use it in blood banks – just not quite the way a sales team might use it. By definition, a pipeline report is a means of forecasting that shows us the units we are reasonably sure we will get. You have somewhere you could go right now to find out what your January will look like, right?
One of the most useful (and frightening) parts about pipeline reporting being used actionably is there are no more excuses. You know the levers you must pull far enough in advance that you should never have to use hope as your business strategy.
My goal is that blood bankers won’t have to work 1, 2, or even 3 days in advance, because that is stressful and options are limited, but for now it happens. Until you have an entire forecasting process up and running, it will continue to happen.
Channel marketing is as simple as using as many mediums as possible while remaining cost effective.
Tele-recruitment isn’t the only place you can make a difference. This is where leveraging other channels becomes so important. Send a broadcast voicemail blast, launch an SMS emergency campaign, send out a custom-written email. Again, you need to evaluate your ROI and use the tools in your toolbox for which you can justify the cost, but we have short-term things that can be done if we have the visibility to know the shortage is coming.
Your efforts have to be diverse, proactive, and changed up all of the time in order to be effective! Remember the saying, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”? There are times when I think Albert Einstein was a blood banker. We rely so heavily on call, email, call, email, call… You get my point. Your options are virtually unlimited, so test new ideas constantly.
Predictive modeling is a process used in predictive analytics to create a statistical model of future behavior.
In blood banking, we have so much data that can save us hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing. The problem is usually organizing and analyzing it.
If we are spending eighty percent of our time making calls that result in no one answering the phone, a donor telling us no, or a donor telling us they are ill, and only twenty percent of our time is spent on calls that are actually producing units, there’s a serious problem that can be alleviated with a statistical analysis.
At Incept, we created a predictive model based on donor behaviors to combat this precise situation, which ultimately saved us and our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Proactive planning is another version of pipeline reporting but comes exclusively from the source that is scheduling the appointment. We know tele-recruitment is our short-term tool. If a donor schedules more than 10 days out during a tele-recruitment call, the likeliness they honor that appointment drops by 70%.
Bedside reschedules and donor-self-scheduling are our lowest cost, highest show rate, and most predictable areas. This is where our stability comes from when forecasting.
So let’s put together email campaigns, a promotion, and a text messaging plan. If at 10 days out we are still low, alert tele-recruitment. The key here is really getting in front of your pipeline and knowing what levers you have and when to pull them to ensure you never have an excuse for missing your goals or your organizational goals.