28 May Healthcare, Customer Service and Your Brand
When I was a young adult experiencing my first real health issue on my own, I visited with a specialty healthcare provider, who after listening to my problems, offer very few solutions and said, “well you don’t have it as bad as some other people I see.” Then he left the room. Not only did I feel absolutely terrible physically, but he’d also dismissed my health concerns as no big deal.
Fast forward several years and my daughter was facing surgery to remove her tonsils. At five-years-old, she was trying to be brave but she was terrified. The doctor we’d carefully chosen had a six-week wait time for appointments and I’m sure had a schedule full of children and adults on the day of her pre-op visit. After examining her, he walked to the nurse’s station, retrieved his cell phone and showed my daughter pictures of his daughter about her age. He took time to get to know my sweet girl and show her he understood her because he had a daughter too.
Which of these doctors do you think we’ve seen more than once? And which one do you think we refer over and over to our friends and family? The second one of course!
Bedside manner is only part of customer service when it comes to healthcare. Patients judge your clinic on their interaction with every person they meet, the cleanliness of your location and the outcomes of their particular health concerns. A clinic’s brand isn’t just its logo or whether it has a fancy coffee machine in the waiting room (although coffee rarely hurts). Brand is the experience your patients have from the moment they hear your name until they pay their final bill.
How do you want patients to experience your clinic?
We ask this question when we start a new branding campaign for a client. In our rural area, a couple of common themes include “we’re family”, “we’re community people”, and “we don’t make people wait”. Hint: “we have great customer service” isn’t enough to set people apart anymore.
If your goal is to be hometown medical clinic, how would your patients expect to be treated? Would they want to be called by name when they come into the clinic? Do they want your front desk clerk to ask about their weekend plans or upcoming holidays? Do they want to know the name of the person taking their blood pressure? Do you like to have a phone call a few days after the visit to check up on them?
Once you know your end goal, you can map out changes that must happen for you to get there. Then you’ll have to get your staff on board to making the needed changes.
How do your patients experience your clinic now?
Walk through the process of becoming a new patient. Ask a friend your staff doesn’t know to book an appointment and talk you through the experience. Even if you know where you want your clinic to be, you won’t get there until you know how your patients experience your clinic now.
Review your Facebook, Yelp and Google Business Reviews. You’ll find a lot of information about patient visits you may not know. Patients who have had a bad experience are often very vocal on social media. Don’t excuse one bad review because that patient was difficult. Rethink how you and your staff could have reacted to a patient’s bad behavior or poor follow through on your instructions. We can’t control how others behave, but we can control how we behave in return.
How will you measure success?
Customer service can be hard to measure, especially if you’re doing an adequate job of it already. Certainly, you can send out surveys to ask patients about their last visit at your clinic, but how else can you measure your success?
If your clinic has had a rash of bad reviews on social media, you might measure success by lowering that number and increasing your quality score. You might measure customer service success by increased return visits by new patients. You should also see an increase in referrals from current patients, additional followers on social media and more people your staff knows when they walk in the door.
Looking for specific ways your clinic can increase its customer service? Becker Hospital Review has a great list to help you get started.
Your healthcare clinic’s reputation affects your entire brand and voice. If you need help developing a brand, finding out how your patients see your clinic and making positive changes, contact us for a 30-minute consultation. We can help you move forward to treat more patients and grow your practice.