Providing great customer service to patients will make them feel like you are all on the same team, they will be more apt to send referrals, and they will be more willing to make sure you are paid for the time and effort you have spent on their care.
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Here are 10 ways to provide excellent service to your patients outside of the exam room:
1. Make sure each of your employees is capable of making a good first impression. This is even more important for the “front-of-house” employees responsible for greeting the patients over the phone or on their arrival in the waiting room. (Tip: Hire people with a history of helping people.)
2. Keep your promises. If you or your staff says, “I will get back to you today,” do it. Even if you don’t have the answer, a quick ring to let patients know you are still working on it is always best. Keep your commitments, no matter how small.
3. Show appreciation and gratitude to your patients. Thank customers in a meaningful and thoughtful manner on every interaction. Say thank you and smile.
4. Provide solid training. Great customer service isn’t all common sense, or there would be more of it. My clients find it beneficial to provide their staff with industry specific customer service training and follow-up renewal training as needed.
5. Listen and act when your patients complain. Deal with every complaint, as complaints can be opportunities to build a lifetime of loyalty from a patient. Make sure that you listen to the complaint, check the validity, take action to resolve it, and then let the patient know how it was resolved. Always assume the patient is telling the truth.
6. Go above and beyond what your patients expect. It is always better to over-deliver on expectations. Make sure you are meeting your patients' needs, then make an effort to exceed them by paying close attention to every detail in the delivery of your services.
7. Make it easy on your patients. Make the experience in your office as easy as possible with minimal wait times, maximum comfort, and amenities such as coffee, tea, and water when possible. Also take into account patients' flow through the clinic to ensure it is easy to navigate.
8. Be open with mistakes. Forgot to call a patient back? Overbooked the clinic? Running a little late? Be honest, apologize sincerely, and offer options to repair the issue.
9. Be a little obsessed with your patients. Would you have a clinic without them? You should know who your patients are, why they come and see you, and you should be sure they receive the best experience and follow up possible. Have your front-office staff make an effort to remember names of your frequent patients, that goes a long way in making a patient feel welcome.
10. Treat your employees (and each other) like customers. It is a little like leading by example, if you treat your employees with great service, they will be more equipped to model that for your patients.
When patients feel they have been treated like a priority, satisfaction increases. If you combine great service outside the exam room with education and explanation of clinical decisions in the exam room, you are well on your way to satisfied patients.