8 Ways to Provide Better Customer Service for Patients

23rd Jan 2016

Though customer service is an integral aspect of businesses, you might think it’s not important in the healthcare industry because customers who come don't really want to be here. They are forced to come to address many of their health issues, so they might be taken for granted and not always given stellar customer service.

This trend has to change because excellent customer service brings with it a lot of benefits to healthcare providers too. Firstly, improving patient satisfaction and customer experience is the key to differentiating yourself from your competitors. Secondly, it helps to build your patient base as more people are likely to choose your hospital over others. Lastly, it makes patients happy despite all the physical and emotional pain they go through, and this helps to build lasting bonds.

Now the question is: how do you do it? Here are eight ways to score well on customer service if you’re in the industry:

1. Change the mindset

The first step to enhancing the quality of customer service is to see patients as customers who are paying for a service. Remember they can go to any hospital, so you have to do everything possible to attract and retain them. Since customer service is the first point of contact, focusing on providing top quality service begins here.

2. Customer service is for every employee

Most people assume that front-desk staff and those who interact with customers are the ones who should be customer-savvy. However, this is not true because a patient can ask a question or request information from just about any employee. When a customer approaches an employee, he or she should know what to say and how to be courteous. According to Micah Solomon of the Forbes, if a customer has a concern, then the answer should be "I will find someone who can answer your question now" instead of  "I'm not the right person to answer this question." This difference in reply can make a difference between a good and bad customer experience.

3. Deliver on schedule

Make sure to deliver service on the scheduled date and not at a time that works best for your institution. More importantly, avoid making patients wait through a long queue for lab results as it is highly disrespectful.

4. Never contradict or scream

Treat your patients like royalty, and avoid contradicting them. When you have an opinion, be courteous and politely tell them why their information may not be right. Your goal is to communicate the right information, and it should never be to contradict or outwit the patient.

5. Stop being indifferent

It is common to see healthcare professionals avoiding eye contact with patients, vending machines being out of service, nurses ignoring patients and med students nearly running into patients. Such instances contribute to a bad experience, that in turn, negatively impacts the reputation of your institution. To avoid these negative perceptions, show that you care by smiling at patients, checking on the vending machine to see if it is working and by asking them if they need anything as they wait for their turn.

6. Use simple words

Patients are worried about their health, and would like to know more about a particular disease or condition. Take time to explain it in simple words that are easy to understand. For example, if a patient wants to know the best creatine and its impact on the kidneys, make sure you explain the need for creatine, what to look for while buying a creatine supplement and other relevant information in a language they can understand. Such a simple gesture will go a long way in boosting the image of your institution in the minds of your customers.

7. Efficient systems

Make sure the organization has efficient systems in place to have greater transparency and accountability among employees. Address the gaps that come up in customer service with appropriate training and remuneration, so that everyone understands their responsibility to provide top-quality customer service every time.

8. Promise only what is possible

Promise only what you can and what is feasible for the patients. Avoid saying things like "You will be fine in a day or two" or "You will get the best care here" or anything else that amounts to empty talk. Be honest with your patients, and it will reap rich rewards in the future.

Thus, customer service is a key aspect for the healthcare industry too, and the above strategies can help your organization become a leader in your market segment.

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