Over time I have found the easiest way to be successful with patient expectations is to think about patient service from the start. Every practice needs to consider the importance of patient service as the basis of its operation. In order to do so I have discovered that comes down to four elements. Let me describe each of them for you.
First, the people aspect has to be both internal and external. This means that staff must have innate capabilities for treating people well. This infers that you're hiring practices need to change. Individuals must be recruited and hired for their patient service skills.
In today's competitive society patient influences are extremely vital. So much so that almost every website, blog or other electronic communication informs prospective patients through case study and testimonial. When you treat your patients right they tell other patients. Think of those testimonials you collect and how they assist in gaining new patients. When others speak of your terrific care they will create the emotional bond to inform others.
Even simple procedures can be frustrating. There are some organizations that never seem ready to take the patient call. There was one instance when someone was informed a relative was in the hospital and upon calling the hospital the switchboard answered as if it were a large-scale hotel in a Caribbean destination. The person trying to call the patient was placed on hold and worse yet the telephone operator was extremely dismissive. When it comes to patient service positive first impressions must always be top of mind. Amazon's philosophy, for as long as they've been a company, has been to be Earth's most customer-centric company. With everything they do, they start with the customer, and work backwards.
And finally, many online businesses provide no patient service telephone number, no telephone number at all, no e-mail address, and no street address on their website. Or if they do provide this information, they bury it so that it takes too long to find, or patients have to fill in personal information on a form to reach the company by e-mail. Companies say that it costs too much to staff telephones and respond to e-mails. Another example of poor service is one in which online patients are stuck on a screen and cannot find their way back to where they were. So the question is if you have a website, is it easy to use and can patients gain quick access to the information they need?
Patient service is not just about the initial experience it is about the path. You need to lead the patient down the path so that when they first meet you they become interested and when trust is built they become enamored. There interest creates the emotional connection to not only return but tell others. Doing so not only provides great customer service it reduces your overhead in marketing.
© 2012. Drew Stevens PhD. All rights reserved.