Top 8 Customer Service Tips from 2013

Lea Chatham September 17th, 2013

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As healthcare becomes more patient-service oriented, we’ve been writing more and more about the important of good service, what the impact is on your medical practice, and how to improve customer service. Here is a recap of some of the great tips from 2013:

  1. Change your attitude and the attitude of your staff. In a recent blog post for Physicians Practice, Audrey “Christie” McLaughlin, RN, discussed this topic. Her main suggestion was simple—be grateful for your patients. Say thank you and let them know that you appreciate their business. Say thank you for coming in, thank you for waiting, thank you for your payment, etc. Having an attitude of gratitude can go a long way towards improving a patient’s experience.
  2. Go beyond how you interact with patients to changing how you interact with each other in the office. When staff chitchat and gossip at the front desk or in the halls, patients can hear them. You may need to create a personnel policy about this to reinforce its importance. How patients see staff interacting and behaving impacts how they perceive their professionalism. And remember when it comes to staffing, you are looking for quality personnel. They should want to be professional and good at what they do. If there is an issue that is affecting how patients perceive your practice, your staff should want to change it!
  3. Change your physical environment. By removing clutter and paper, you can create a nicer physical space. You heard me right, remove paper. Walls of charts look outdated and create a perception that you are not up-to-date with the times. Just one more reason to consider going paperless with an electronic health record. Other things you can do to improve your space include removing walls or partitions between the front desk and waiting room and seeing patients in an office for a consultation and moving to an exam room for the physical examination.
  4. Greet patients warmly. Nothing can turn a patient off more than arriving in your office, only to be ignored by the receptionist. Be sure your front line staff members greet visitors warmly as soon as they reach the front desk. Train back office or clinical staff to greet visitors if they see the receptionist is on the phone or attending to another patient when a new visitor presents.
  5. Stay on schedule. No one likes to be kept waiting, and lengthy wait times are one of the most common patient complaints. If the clinical staff is running behind schedule, make sure to inform your patients, apologize for the delay and give an estimated waiting time.
  6. Reassure patients who seem anxious, especially when they are new patients. Let them know they picked the right practice and are in good hands. Front desk staff can reduce the patients’ anxiety by simply saying, “Our patients love Dr. Nice and I am sure you will too.” Also, give them an idea how long the wait will be once they are roomed or let the know what to expect. For example, in a retina practice let them know if you will be doing preliminary tests before they see the physician and how much time is involved.
  7. Smile. It can be as simple as training your front and back office staff to greet patients by name, smile and end any conversation with simple phrases such as, “was I able to answer all your questions?,” “Is there anything else I might assist you with?,” or “I hope you have a pleasant day and please do not hesitate to call us with any questions you might have.”
  8. Don’t multitask. Your first line of communication, the telephone, should be answered by a friendly employee who is not multi-tasking. Patients can tell when they are not first priority. Have your staff smile when they speak on the telephone. Your gestures are conveyed through your voice.

For more on improving the patient experience, read these and other blog posts here.

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