Living in a world of instant gratification, it’s not easy today to delight a patient. Most people want their problems solved quickly and expeditiously. If you can do that, you will probably have a patient for life and if you can’t your business may not survive. When faced with increasing competition, customer service can be the competitive advantage that keeps patients coming back to your practice.
No one goes looking for an average restaurant or an average surgeon or an average experience. If you want people to rave about you, you have to WOW them with a service experience that is outrageous. People won’t remember average. Service has to be extraordinary to be remembered.
A few years ago, I visited a large department store chain in Chicago where the clerks paid little attention to my request for assistance. Not one to accept being ignored, I left and went to a much smaller and much more expensive store. To my surprise, the salesperson greeted me by name which was amazing since I hadn’t shopped in the store for over six months. Michael not only remembered my name, he also recalled my husband’s preference of styles and was prepared to show me items that would complement previous purchases and he offered free alterations and no charge shipping. I continue to be inspired when a business offers over the top service.
When was the last time you “wowed” a patient by doing something totally unexpected?
If you can’t remember, chances are it’s time to step up your efforts. The Ritz Carlton consistently wins awards for their commitment to exceptional customer service. In fact, they put their money where their mouth is and commit significant resources to finding employees who have a heart for service. So what can we do in our practices to win over our patients? A place to start may be in a patient’s first point of contact which would be making certain the phone is answered by a friendly, upbeat voice. Remember, it’s not what you say but how you say it. The person answering the phone should be able to answer the most common questions patients ask without having to consult you or someone else. I find it extremely irritating to be placed on hold for an extended period of time. If the wait is more than a few minutes, then ask the caller if it’s acceptable to call him or her back at a designated time.
While we live in an automated world, it’s important to have a real person answer the phone. Imagine how frustrating it is for someone with hearing loss to have to listen to a long list of instructions before they can access a real person. I have hung up on more than one occasion after listening to a long list of choices to press 1 for this, 5 for that and 17 for whatever because I couldn’t remember what number one was.
Another way to deliver exceptional service to your patients is to respect their time. Schedule appropriate time for appointments and don’t make patients wait. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to wait for a healthcare appointment but making patients wait is also a bad beginning to what will hopefully be a long relationship. When you are forced to make a patient wait, apologize and give them an idea how long you will be delayed.
In a time when patients have a multitude of choices for hearing healthcare, maintaining good customer service can be the reason patients keep coming back for a lifetime.
Attention Sapphire Society Members: Do you know what it costs when even One Call is Not converted into an appointment?