Customer Service: Are You Devoting Enough Time To It?
Customer service can make or break a business. Unfortunately, many companies don’t understand this. It is especially true in healthcare.
Poor customer service is a patient’s greatest frustration. According to a 2016 study, 96% of patient’s complaints were due to poor customer service.1 96%! That’s huge!
The healthcare industry’s efforts to improve patient care is nullified by poor customer service.
At age 14, my oldest daughter experienced abdominal pains. Sometimes the pains were so severe she could not stand or walk. After researching physicians in the area, I made an appointment with one of them. This physician was highly rated and credentialed.
Customer Service Begins Before the Visit
Making the appointment was a nightmare! The front desk employee was very rude and didn’t have much empathy for my daughter’s situation. But I chalked it up to this person wasn’t having a good day.
I remember the day of the appointment like it was yesterday. When my husband and I arrived with our daughter, no one at the front desk acknowledged our arrival. My mother taught me when you entered a room, you waited until acknowledged as not to interrupt anyone.
Well, we stood at the front desk and waited; and waited; and waited. There were three people behind the desk. They continued their conversation as if we were invisible. Finally, I thought, “Sorry, mom, but you did not raise these people!” When I interrupted their conversation, it was as if I had shot their mothers!
The person I dealt with made sure I knew how irritated she was. Not deterred, I tolerated the rudeness and hostility. I kept telling myself, “My daughter needs to see this physician.”
Customer Service Can Be Heaven or Hell
Once called back to see the physician, the difference was like heaven and hell. The nursing staff was pleasant and comforting. And the physician was amazing. My daughter was scheduled for a diagnostic test.
I was so impressed with this physician, I made an appointment for myself. For this physician to be my primary care physician, I knew I must tolerate the front desk staff.
Eventually, my daughter had her procedure. She also had one follow-up visit. I had two visits before I decided it wasn’t worth it. The medical staff was wonderful. But their efforts were in vain. The front desk staff erased those efforts.
Before severing this physician-patient relationship, I discussed my displeasure. To my surprise, the physician was not aware of how the front desk staff treated patients. You see, the physician focused on providing the best possible medical care. The physician trusted the staff to deliver the best customer service.
You’ve heard the old saying, “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing?” This situation was a perfect example of this. The physician was unaware of the patient’s journey.
Obviously, this does not represent every front desk staff. But it says enough to confirm the findings of the referenced study. Complaints in the study included poor communication and difficulty scheduling appointments. Long office wait times and billing were also problems.¹
A Holistic Approach To Customer Service
This following infographic2 identifies problems and provides solutions to provide a better patient experience:
The estimated cost of losing one patient to a competitor is about $1.4 million over a patient’s lifetime.2 One patient! In the above scenario, this physician lost two patients.
Providing the best possible patient care should always be the number one priority. However, it must be viewed holistically. Patient care cannot be separated from patient experience. It’s the same journey