In our practice, customer service is a corner stone of our core value as a company. We feel it is one of the easiest and less expensive ways to distinguish our selves from other health care providers in the area.
I always say to our team members, “the Amoxicilin we prescribe in this office is the same Amoxicilin that the practice down the road prescribes. The Prevnar we give out here is the same Prevnar other practices give out. For the most part, we treat ear infections the same way other docs treat ear infections. The only thing that differentiates us is, us.”
The thing is, customer service is very difficult to provide in a health care settings. For starters, people are already apprehensive about the visit. Nobody wants to visit the doctor’s office, even if it is for a wellness visit. And then we have the kids. They are terrified.
It is not like going to Disney where people’s happy meter is at 12 on a scale of 1 – 10. We are in the same boat as the lost baggage claim desk at the airport. Nobody wants to visit the lost baggage claim desk. Nobody is down there thanking the agent for not loosing their luggage.
So to provide exceptional service, we have to go above and beyond because we start out in a hole, so to speak.
So, what are the different ways one can improve with customer service?
The best way to improve your customer service, is by going directly to the customer and asking them. Right? But if your practice is anything like ours, it is hard to get people to answer surveys and mail them back. And if you give it to them as they are checking out, they usually brush through it as if we only give them 20 seconds to complete.
Here are four tips that perhaps may help you engage parents to provide constructive criticism:
1. Handing Parents a Questionnaire with an addressed pre-paid envelope.
The prepaid envelope is the kicker here. This way, parents don’t have to search for a stamp and remember your address. Also, they don’t have to feel obligated to answer the questionnaire right then and there.
2. Send a SurveyMonkey (or any other service like SurveyMonkey) link to a questionnaire you have already prepared.
Sending an email with a link is another idea that may work for your office. Especially if you have young, Internet focused practice. Another advantage of a service like this is that the results are collated.
3. If you are a manager, work the front desk or answer the phones for a day or two or maybe even a week.
This tip reminds me of the show called Undercover Boss. For those that haven’t heard of it, the show highlights a different CEO of a major corporation every week, going to work for his own company while undercover. During that week, the undercover CEO works front line type position within the company getting to know employees, how they do things and what are their thoughts on the company, life and other things.
After a week, the CEO reveals to the the participants that he is in fact the CEO and that he was there to get a better idea of how the company worked from the perspective of a front-line employee. The CEO also reveals many of the changes that the company will do as a result of what the CEO learned during his undercover stint. The CEO even incorporates many of the suggestions of the employees he worked with during the undercover stint.
The take away from this tip, and the show, is that when one works the front line, one gains a completely different perspective on the business. This perspective will give you keen insight into how to better service both your internal, as well as, your external customers.
4.Post a sign in your waiting area that reads – Our goal is to provide the best service we can provide. If you are not satisfied with the service you’ve received, please give me a call. I’d like to know about it – Manager
We don’t do this, but as a result of writing this blog post, I’m going to put up a sign, with my email address so that parents that are not happy with our service can reach out to me and let me know first hand their issues.
I think this is a powerful tip because it addresses several issues at once. For starters, I think it shows people, both staff and parents that we are serious about providing excellent customer service.
Secondly, the idea of having a sign out front with my email so that people can reach me will also have a psychological affect on that the staff. It is a good reminder for them to button up their attitude because anyone could send me an email to complain about them.
I think it is worth mentioning that when I refer to customer service, I’m not mixing what the patient needs and what the parent wants. I’m not suggesting that the doc disregard his/her medical judgement to please a mom for the sake of customer service.
The way I differentiate it is like this. The patient is the patient and should be treated as such. The parent, on the other hand, is the customer. For the customer, we will go above and beyond to meet their needs but not at the expense of the patient’s needs.
Do you have any ideas that could help others improve one’s customer service?