As the expression goes, "customer service is an attitude not a department." This is especially true in the ever-changing healthcare environment in which medical practices are deploying patient satisfaction surveys, evaluating customer experience and being rated on Yelp and other websites.
This week's MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare leaders if their staff has completed customer service training in the past year.
Of the 1,079 applicable responses, 32% indicated that all staff had, 27% indicated that some staff had, and 36% responded no, their staff had not been trained.
Every employee in your organization is somebody's customer, and each has customers of their own. Customers are people we interact with, both inside and outside the practice.
Healthcare is an industry that provides goods and services to treat patients. It also provides services to payers, vendors, referring physicians and hospitals.
I've learned that there are few key points to keep in mind regarding customer service:
- A high level of customer service is no more difficult or expensive to deliver than a low level of customer service.
- The key to a high level of customer service is being mindful about its relevance in day-to-day transactions.
- A high level of customer service becomes standard when practiced daily. Ongoing customer service training and reinforcement can ensure best practices are followed.
- Practicing a high level of customer service can create a healthy practice culture and help retain patients and attract new ones.
Finally, I'm often asked about the financial return of customer service training. Research proves that word of mouth is one of the most effective sources to attract new patients and that poor customer service is one of the greatest challenges to patient retention. A strong customer service culture results in lower patient acquisition costs and a higher rate of patient retention. This ultimately affects your practice's bottom line.
For example, consider organizations such as Chick-fil-A, The Ritz-Carlton or Nordstrom. If you've been a customer, you know that their level of customer service is second to none. Each has invested in customer service training and has a strong customer-focused organizational vision.
Take the time to train your employees on good customer service. It's that important.
- Front office success, 2nd edition
- MGMA customer service, 100 level
- "Customer service skills in healthcare: Why they matter"
- "Essentials of staff development and why you should care"
- "Customer service in healthcare: The paradox of patient satisfaction and patient experience"
- HealthCARE Transformed, an online customer service training library specific to the healthcare space
Kenneth T. Hertz, FACMPE