Over the next few weeks, we are going to go a little deeper in ways you can provide the best customer service for your patients and even your staff. As mentioned last week, providing good care for patient's isn't just about practicing good medicine — patients (aka customers) are looking for more than a cure these days (don't get me wrong, a great medicine, a cure for what ails is still top priority) and there is a lot more involved in making a patient a life-long patient.
I am sure that we all know the definition to hospitality as "the friendly and generous reception of guests, strangers, or visitors." In other words, try to wrap your head around treating your patients like they were guests in your home. If you are not much of a host in your personal life, you may be able to relate to the way you have treated at your favorite hotel or upscale restaurant.
I am going to harp on this one again, make sure that your waiting area is clean and comfortable (this goes for restrooms also). You would clean and straighten up your home before your mother-in-law visited right? This may mean that someone must be in charge of inspecting and straightening these areas at certain intervals during the day. It certainly means that it should be a collective team effort to pick up/straighten up/clean up any unsightly messes. Offer your patients (guests) a drink, even if your refreshments are in the waiting room, instruct them to "help themselves to some coffee or tea or a bottle of water."
It is even more important that is the staff (including the practitioners) demonstrating hospitality in their behavior. Again, refer back to the way you have been treated at your favorite upscale hotel or restaurant. Be smiling and warm to your patients and thank them for coming. Ask how you can help them. Hold open the doors for them — All too often when I come in to observe an office and make suggestions, I see a patient struggling to get thru the door and the staff ignoring it. Your staff should be smiling on the phone — you really can hear the difference.
I would expect that most of you understand the principles of hospitality in general. The keys are how to implement it. If you or your office manager isn't a particularly hospitable person, and not everyone comes by it naturally, then try appointing a staff member to be your "hospitality ambassador." It is their job to hold meetings, fun / team building games and come up with great ways and rewards for the staff. Also this person is responsible for coming up with additional ways to extend hospitality to the staff.
In all that you do and all the hospitality you provide, it is absolutely key to be genuine.
People who feel they are getting great service for their money and have been treated in a hospitable manner, do a number of things — they come back, refer friends and family, are loyal, pay their bills in a more timely fashion (and with less complaint), trust their providers, follow directions better, etc. There are a myriad of benefits.
People who provide great genuine hospitality, enjoy their work more, see more financial benefit, and generally report improved quality in their work satisfaction. You can't lose!
How are you being hospitable to your patients?
Find out more about Audrey "Christie" McLaughlin and our other Practice Notes bloggers.