Four Ways to Evaluate Customer Service at Your Medical Practice

July 22, 2014

Your medical staff may behave differently when you are not around. Here's how to know what's really going on when you are not nearby.

We all know how many moving parts there are in a medical practice and, with so much activity happening on a daily basis, the first thing to suffer is usually the focus on good customer service.

While customer service is important for any business, it plays an even greater role in healthcare, as patients have so many choices when it comes to where they get it. You should do everything you can to ensure that when your patients are talking with friends and colleagues, they are telling them about positive experiences.

Here are some tips to effectively spot-check the quality of the customer service your staff is providing in your practice:

Stage a call. Whether you rope in a friend or have a manager who’s a great actor, place a call to your office from a blocked number and play pretend. Maybe the caller is a new patient who’s hard of hearing, or an impatient family member who wants to speak directly to a physician NOW. Whatever the scenario you choose, make sure it’s one of those “tough calls” that makes it hard for staff to keep composure. We all know our staff encounter them from time to time and it’s good to see how they react under pressure.

Stage another call. You want to make sure your staff members are polite and efficient in general. Make a call to see if they’re answering the phone as directed, if they know how to route calls to the right party, if they handle sales reps appropriately, etc. You don’t always need your quality assurance calls to be stressful. It’s important to provide great service in any situation.

Give a pop quiz. A less “big brother-ish” way to test your staff is through random pop quizzes. When there’s a lull in the phones or you run into someone by the water cooler, ask them to recite the script they use when answering the phones or who they’d forward the call to if a potential provider looking for a job was on the line.

Make a round of outbound survey calls. Since you know your patients aren’t likely to take the time to call you with their feedback, go ahead and call them. Some won’t participate, but many will be happy to give you a minute or two to answer a few basic questions. Either target a specific patient group (maybe you’ve just had a patient leave your services and you want to know why) or simply pick a random sampling of 25 patients. Prepare the questions that are most important to you, and dial away.

Above all else, be proactive. Your customer service may be lacking, even if you are not receiving complaints from your patients or referral sources. No news isn’t necessarily good news.

If you do decide to periodically make staged calls to your office, there are pros and cons when it comes to alerting your staff to this activity. On one hand, if they know about the spot-checking they may take customer service more seriously. On the other hand, they may be able to figure out which calls are staged and simply up their game at that time. It all comes down to your comfort level and your relationship with your staff.

It might seem a little like spying, and your staff may be less than thrilled if they find out, but it’s a great way to protect your business and give your employees the motivation they need to perform well on the days they’re feeling less than “on.”