In this time of economic downturn, one area that hospitals and medical practices need to work on is their patients' satisfaction. The internet has made it easier for people to communicate with each other and share information about a company or service. When a patient gets a satisfactory experience from a doctor's office or hospital, they are more likely to tell others about the good experience. On the opposite side of the spectrum, when someone has been dissatisfied with their service from a business or medical practice, then they are much more willing to express that fact all over social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. In this article I will discuss ways in which satisfaction levels can be improved by offering better customer service through various methods including: hiring warm staff members who genuinely care about their patients, ensuring a clean environment, and having a clear understanding of patient expectations.
The first step to improving the satisfaction levels for your medical practice or hospital is to hire staff members who genuinely care about their patients. A study done by Danette Howard at Florida State University revealed that nurses with positive personalities are more likely to improve patient satisfaction than those showing negative attitudes . It shows that staff members who treat every person they meet as an individual are better suited for providing customer service than someone exhibiting negative behavior. Another survey done by All-About-Vision.com found that over 60% of people do not like dealing with eyeglass salespeople because they act pushy and give "attitude" . The same can be said for doctors and medical staff members in a hospital. When patients walk into a room or to an appointment, they become nervous about what is going to happen and whether someone will be kind enough to help them understand their options.
In addition, employees should have clean appearances when they are making rounds or meeting with patients. If a patient walks into an office and the staff members look disheveled and exhausted, then the initial impression may not set up for a positive experience during their visit. A study conducted by Ann Marie Fiore from West Virginia University showed that hospital visitors found people in sterile uniforms more trustworthy than those wearing casual attire . In other words, if your staff members wear scrubs or lab coats when they meet with patients, then patients will feel that they are being treated with greater care and attention.
Hiring staff members who are warm, caring individuals along with employees that have a positive appearance will help improve the satisfaction levels for your medical practice or hospital. The next aspect of customer service to consider is how clean your facility is kept. People want to go into an office or room knowing it will be perfectly neat and orderly . If there are papers scattered on desks, trash on the floor, stains on the chairs, and other elements that make the room look unclean then patients are not going to feel comfortable during their appointment or stay in that room. Let's think back to when you were in school as a child : wouldn't you want your classroom to look perfect before having visitors come inside? The same idea applies when people are in a doctor's office or hospital room.
Another element to consider is the patient expectation factor. In other words, you need to have an outline of what the patient expects from your staff members and how their time will be spent while they are visiting with your company . If there is no clear understanding about what type of service a person can expect, then it will create tension between both parties resulting in negative feelings about the entire experience. For example, Dr. Goodson from Yankton Animal Clinic in South Dakota states that " When clients come for a wellness exam or appointment, we don't have any veterinary business assistants working here yet, so I do all the check-in myself right away" (Bauer). If you are reading this article in the doctor's office waiting room, then you can see how important it is to have a desk set up with someone who is ready and able to discuss any questions or concerns that will come up. On the other hand, if a patient walks into an office and there is no one available to help them, they may feel as though their time was wasted by just sitting down and waiting .
In order for medical practices and hospitals to increase satisfaction among their customers, they need to hire staff members who will create a clean environment and understand what patients expect from their visits. The final step of improving the customer service experience is making sure that your staff members follow through on everything they say. When working at a hospital or medical office, sometimes people are panicked or can become confused very easily. Your job is to make sure that your staff members are able to take control of the situation so patients feel safe and comfortable at all times .
For example, if a patient comes in for surgery, then they want to know exactly what is going to happen so there are no surprises later on. If you have an employee who has worked at your hospital or practice for several years , ask them if they remember any questions that were brought up when people were preparing for surgery. This way you know whether employees have been listening properly during conversations with patients and trying their best to answer everyone's questions thoroughly . Another tip that may be helpful is saying "I will do my best to find out the answer to your question and get back to you soon." This shows that your staff member is willing to help in any way possible while at the same time giving them a deadline for when they will respond . The last thing we need to do in order to improve customer service satisfaction is constantly observing your employees and making sure they are following through with their actions. If you see an employee constantly having issues with this, then make sure you sit down and talk about it with them directly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ms. Pinky Maniri-Pescasio is the Founder of GoHealthcare Consulting. She is a National Speaker on Practice Reimbursement and a Physician Advocate. She has served the Medical Practice Industry for more than 25 years as a Professional Medical Practice Consultant.