Customer Service Is The New Black
In this day and age, it is normal to see new technology sprouting about in every aspect of our lives. It’s almost as if there is definitely an app for everything we want to accomplish. This trailblazing tech catharsis has even spilled over into the healthcare industry. Between self-service kiosks and mobile telemedicine and telehealth systems it’s getting less and less frequent that we engage in face to face contact. Whether this decrease in face to face engagement is positive or negative is unbeknown to us. The topic in itself is polarizing since the spread and invention of technology is growing rapidly, therefore the issue has growing urgency from both sides. What we do know for a fact is that face to face engagement at the moment is decreasing; therefore customer service etiquette may be at risk as well. Customer service is important to keep businesses and the healthcare system running and efficient since it creates a sense of credibility, makes patients feel comfortable, and harbors a welcoming attitude so patients will return and recommend your institution to others. It’s not that technology is malicious, but it may get in the way of all the positive benefits of customer service. Healthcare is so personal and bed side etiquette may often times be the deciding factor of where a patient ends up frequenting if they feel secure. Below is a quick trick to help you with remembering the key aspects needed to promote a better customer service centered environment. When in doubt, “SOCHi” is the word!
Show common courtesy
This tip may come as a surprise to some since it shouldn’t have to be a reminder, but sadly it is necessary to be first on the list. Be nice! Something our parents used to tell us when we were younger, but the message has worn off over the years. The healthcare industry can get stressful at times since we are directly dealing with feelings of real people, but that is the exact reason why we should show some courtesy. In order to get your institution to the point where it is a well-tuned machine, you must implement a courteous attitude along with a courteous staff. If the first thing a patient hears when they call your front desk is a receptionist or nurse in training who does not want to be there, it is going to deter them from contacting your office again in the future. Taking that a step further, when a patient is one-on-one with a doctor, is it necessary to be nice and welcoming to the patient so they can feel comfortable in their space.
Open up your heart (show empathy)
One thing to remember when working in the healthcare industry is that it is meant to assist people with problems in a personal manner. One way to assist people with their personal or health issues is to show empathy. It is crucial for staff and doctors to show their sense of empathy with their patients. This is not to be conflated with the concept of sympathy which involves feeling pity or sadness for people. Instead, with empathy you can have a sense of what the person of feeling based off of past experiences with the same issues, that way you and your patient can take the necessary steps to solve the issue. Patients feel comfortable when they know that someone else is on their side. Simple phrases like, “Wow, that sounds hard”, or even a concerned look can go a long way. These actions show that their well-being actually affects your work ethic which means you care about your patient.
Choose to listen
Another thing to remember is to be a conscious listener when it comes to your patients. This goes hand in hand with being courteous; it’s as if neither can exist without the other. Listening with intent and purpose is a different story than just pretending to. It is important to realize that you are making a conscious choice to listen to what your patient has to say. That being said, when a patient is speaking, try not to interrupt them to get to the point because that will leave patients feeling belittle. Realize that often times patients are stressed due to their health issues so it is good to give them a chance to speak to a credible source and have their voice be heard. Sometimes that is just what they need. Instead of interrupting a patient mid sentence, you can wait for them to finish and ask them questions that will open up discussion for a reveal of more symptoms. That way they know you were listening and want to hear all they have to say about their health.
Help as much as you can
Always remember to assist your patients as much as you can and to the best of your abilities. Ways you can do this include proving that you are going to assist them after their appointments in the future by letting them know you will follow up with them for any matters such as appointments, prescriptions, or authorizations. You should also take the time to go through all the necessary protocol in getting a patient ready to see a doctor. Sometimes this process is overlooked for the sake of time, but if you show patients that you are taking all the necessary and professional steps to get them the best healthcare they need they will surely take note of it. Patients want to know that the staff assisting them is doing the best that they can to ensure they are healthy and happy. This means that staff should only make promises that they will be able to keep to ensure that patients are not deceived or given false information as that would seem unprofessional and diminish your offices’ credibility.
Interest your patients
The last and final tip to creating an excellent customer service environment is often times overlooked in the challenges of running an office. It is always important to be interesting! Have some fun and show your personal side at the office. Take some time out of your day to get to know not only your patients but your staff as well. If patients walk in to see a staff that is acquainted with each other they will be inclined to be in such a welcoming environment once again. It never hurts to figure out some of your clients’ hobbies and interests and speak to them about it briefly even if it is just on the way out of the office or to a different room. Patients do not want to speak to a brick wall when they come get their health checked, it is nice to know that there is a human on the other side of the room with courtesy, empathy, listening skills, credibility, and some personality.
WELCOME THE CUSTOMER
With all of these tips combined, you will have an office with superb customer service skills that will have your patients leaving content. It’s principal to create a space in which you keep in mind that the more welcoming you are, the more people will want to be in that space. After all, without any patients, there wouldn’t be an office in the first place so it is important to keep a steady flow of reliable clients. Southern California Health Institute has a reliable Medical Assistance program that takes the time in their curriculum to teach students about bedside etiquette. That way, we ensure that all of our Medical Assistant graduates always have that motto “SOCHi” to help them with their customer service skills. As of now, customer service is the new black, and black will never go out of style.