October 2-6 is Customer Service Week—perhaps the best time to ask yourself how your practice is perceived.
Would your patients describe you as respectful, sincere, concerned, compassionate? Do they consider your staff helpful, informative, and attentive? If not, you practice is heading for trouble.
You and your team members are the service ambassadors of your organization. If you treat your patients well, they will return. Treat them poorly, and they’ll go elsewhere.
Many of the proficiencies for good patient relations are also professionalism skills, such as excellent communication, thoroughness, and prompt follow-up. Be a pro at all times—with your patients and their families, as well as other internal and external customers. Ensure that everyone receives the best possible service.
Don’t Miss this Rule of Thumb: Treat each patient like he or she is your most important patient.
The golden rule is still golden. Treat your patients the way you want to be treated. Extend to them the kindness you’d show a friend or family member. Give each patient your time and undivided attention.
The litmus test. Those in your care should leave feeling that their well-being is important to you.
Patients are people with full lives and interests similar to yours. Don’t lose the commonality of your humanity by thinking of them as “the leg injury” or “the mole removal.” A patient in the examination room is at his or her most vulnerable. You can ease their sense of vulnerability through casual engagement. Be your best self—patient, empathetic, and friendly. Interact with the whole person.
Count the Cost of Poor Service
Losing a patient to poor service hurts everyone—the patient and your practice. That’s to say nothing of bad PR spread by a dissatisfied customer.
Experts estimate that an unhappy customer tells up to 20 people about a bad experience. In the social media age, 20 becomes 2000 in the blink of a tweet, Yelp comment, or Facebook post. Every patient is important in their own right. In business terms, every patient is vital to your credibility and reputation.
Ask yourself: Is it worth the risk of upsetting a patient?
Life’s Lemons are Sour
Patients can be nauseated, in pain, dizzy, confused, disabled, terminally ill, or depressed. They may have financial concerns or lack family support. Perhaps they fear losing their jobs because their conditions could prohibit them from working. The point is that stressors usually affect a person’s disposition, either ebbing into tone of voice or intensifying behavior.
Prepare yourself to respond to emotional fallout. The old cliché about turning life’s lemons into lemonade… well, it takes a little sugar. Stay calm. Be pleasant, encouraging, kind. You work in the healing industry—send your patients home feeling better than when they arrived.
Service Performance Pitfalls
Reflect on a time when you received poor service at a store, restaurant, or even a healthcare provider. Would you consider going back? Not likely.
What events turned you away from repeat business? Take note of them and ensure that you and your staff don’t commit the same offenses. Familiarize yourself with common patient complaints to establish protocols to prevent service errors:
Bottom line. Patients pay your salary. Without them, there is no practice.
Need More Help?
Say goodbye to humdrum service with TCI’s decisive and insightful Service Excellence: Top Patient Relations Strategies for Customer Retention.