From integrating an effective medical answering service to addressing the needs of a patient and everything in between, there seems to be no limit to what healthcare facilities can do to make their clients happy.
Excellent customer service is critical in all industries, but maybe, none more than in healthcare. Medical practitioners take care of clients when they are at their most vulnerable. Many would assume that great customer service in a healthcare facility is all about the quality of medical care offered by competent practitioners. While this is critical, customer service goes beyond treatment. It’s the little things like the caregiver’s availability when the patients need them most or the reception and care that a patient gets among other things that count.
Good customer care starts when a patient calls in to book an appointment, inquire about the services, or report an emergency. Things like having to wait on the line for several minutes, not getting a response, talking to an underwhelmed or overwhelmed secretary and so on can be a complete turn off to patients. Again, since these calls can happen at any time, including after-hours, and over the weekends or holidays, it is easy for facilities to miss out. Outsourcing medical practice answering service is an excellent way for healthcare organizations to ensure they never miss a call, and that patients are taken care of promptly and professionally.
So, why is customer service valuable in healthcare?
It sets the expectation for the quality of care: as stated earlier, quality treatment is critical, but it’s not everything. When a patient calls in and gets a cold treatment, they are likely to hang up and call the next best option because they assume that that’s a reflection of the care they will receive from the facility. The opposite is true.
It creates a loyal fan base: a satisfied patient is a happy client, and is more likely to go back (and even refer people) to the facility than one who is unhappy. The reputation that a facility develops for poor or exceptional customer service will be vital in determining whether potential patients seek their services in the future.
Bad customer care reflects bigger issues: poor customer service is often an indicator of underlying problems within the facility. Hospitals that deliver excellent customer service are likely to have refined and robust systems and processes, while those that offer poor service are likely to struggle with data quality, staff training, and process inefficiencies.
Patients are customers: many healthcare organizations tend to forget this aspect. Without a patient, there would be no business. The only difference is that patients do not want to be in the hospitals – it is scary, confusing, and sometimes, stressing experience. By identifying potential pain points and creating a thoughtful customer service plan, a hospital or practice can differentiate themselves in terms of customer experience.
Surveys are bearing more weight: with more than a billion dollars in yearly Medicare funding tied to Hospital Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), customer service is becoming a necessity than an option. In addition to cleanliness and doctor competencies, these surveys also address communication skills of medical practitioners and office staff, as well as patient experience.