When you don’t feel well, you are probably grumpy, frightened, weak and out of sorts. What will happen when you call the Dr.’s office? If the person answering the phone is rushed, impersonal and impatient, is that going to make you feel good?
Customer service does matter in a doctor’s office. It matters in any office. If you are physician who’s practice is getting smaller, the problem may have something to do with your office staff. It could also have something to do with the care they receive, there is not way to know. But your patients, or what the rest of us would call our customers, or clients, may not wait around to tell you they don’t like your customer service, or bedside manner. They will simply not come back.
I was reading a post on Physicianspractice.com, and the author, Audrey McLaughlin, RN, was posting about something with the acromyn H.E.A.R.T. I think that much of her post applies to any business that wants to build a referral base and keep their customers coming back, but in this case she is talking about patients in a Medical Practice.
“Providing your patients with customer service from the H.E.A.R.T. is not a pile of complicated systems, policies, and over-management techniques. It is putting the heart (no pun intended, but I will take it) back into your clinic, keeping it simple, and allowing yourself to better and more authentically serve your patients.
Here are some quick applications of customer service from the H.E.A.R.T. for your clinic:
1. Hospitality. This can be pretty simple. Be inviting to your patients (they are your guests after all). Make your waiting room clean and comfortable. Would you want to sit in your own waiting room? Go sit there for an hour one day and see how inviting it is. Have coffee or tea available, and offer bottled water to your patients. Keep television volume, especially if you are advertising services, at a reasonable level. Make sure staff (including doctors) is smiling and warm. Hint: This starts on the phone before the patient ever gets to the office. You may even consider making a person the hospitality ambassador for your office. This person can hold weekly meetings to get the staff on board with hospitality.
2. Empathy and Enthusiasm. Empathy is very important in customer service because it allows you to put yourself in the patient’s shoes; being empathetic increases retention rates as well as increasing compliance (the number patients actually following up with your medical recommendations). Empathy can also instantly diffuse an irritated patient.
You can show empathy by saying with sincerity (in your face and tone). For example:
“That is awful. Let me see how I can help.”
“I understand your frustration.”
“I would be upset if that happened to me.”
AT Central Comm we have many of the same instructions included in our customer service training for our operators. Making certain that we always answer our customer’s calls with a pleasant and calm demeanor. If a caller is agitated, we do our very best to get to the issue which may be causing that agitation, and do whatever is in our power to help.
If you have a very busy medical practice, it could be helpful to have Central Comm answer your phones during peek hours, and perhaps we could help with appointment scheduling and appointment reminders as well. Freeing up your people to answer more pressing questions and to take even more care with your patients.