When it comes to customer service in healthcare, getting your strategy right is key. Whether you want to make it easier for patients to navigate your website or provide more accountability among your staff, you need to create a plan of action. This not only improves your brand but also fulfills a public need for quality medical care.
That said, customer service requires more than a friendly face to greet patients. It necessitates an approach that covers every aspect of the customer experience. So, how can you provide excellent customer service in healthcare? In this guide, we will provide 5 useful methods to help improve your customer service and build the quality of your brand!
How can you provide excellent customer service in healthcare?
Patients expect quality customer service in the healthcare industry. While other industries might allow businesses to get by with minimal effort, healthcare gives little room for error. People often consider great customer service as an essential part of healthcare. Therefore, you must provide patients and their families with high-quality, effective customer service.
1. Improve Accessibility Over the Phone
A medical emergency can happen at any time. Patients need to know that they can contact their healthcare provider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Traditionally, a receptionist functions as the main point of contact between your business and the public. However, an in-house receptionist can only work so many hours in a day and so many days in a week.
You could hire multiple receptionists to work on a rotating schedule, but this might not be your best option. First, it will get very expensive, very quickly. Second, this increases the risk of information falling through the cracks. You’d have two or more receptionists tracking messages and appointments at various times, which would require an airtight information management system.
Rather than taking this expensive and complex route, you could simply acquire a medical virtual receptionist. With a medical virtual receptionist service, you have a trained receptionist ready to answer calls at any time. You don’t need to worry about creating a complex system for managing messages or appointments, either. The system is already in place. All you have to do is conduct business as usual and let your virtual receptionist provider handle the rest.
At Nexa, virtual receptionists are trained to work in specific industries. So, a medical virtual receptionist knows how to communicate effectively with both medical staff and patients and understands basic medical practices. They have a working knowledge of customer service and legal obligations in the medical field, which means that you don’t have to spend time or money training your own receptionist to provide quality care.
2. Improve Accessibility Online
A lot of people prefer scheduling medical appointments online. It saves time and, if executed properly, limits the risk of miscommunication. As more businesses move to the digital sphere, making your healthcare website or online portal user friendly is essential for providing excellent customer service.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should move all of your access points online. Many people still feel uncomfortable using the Internet for certain processes. In the end, you need to provide points of access that cater to patients with diverse needs and preferences.
This is why combining a smooth, user-friendly website design with an affordable virtual receptionist can help cut down on errors, streamline the appointment scheduling process, and boost your business’ overall accessibility.
3. Use a “Bottom-Up” Approach to Customer Service
Most businesses implement a “top-down” approach to customer service. This means that the management sets the customer service protocol and passes this information down the pipeline to the workers who will directly interact with customers. However, with a “bottom-up” approach, management listens to the recommendations of its employees at every level to craft a customer service plan that works.
For example, let’s say you run a clinic that employs several doctors, nurses, and technicians. These employees will deal with patients face-to-face on a daily basis. In other words, they are on the “front lines” of your business when it comes to customer service. They know which elements of your existing customer service plan work and which elements could be improved.
Coordinate with your staff to develop customer service that works in a healthcare environment. This prevents upper-level management, who might be somewhat removed from the day-to-day processes of the business, from instituting changes that could diminish staff/patient relations. Not only does this improve customer service for healthcare, but it also increases the quality of care that you provide your patients.
4. Allow Patients to Give Feedback
You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time. However, don’t let this deter you from developing good customer service skills in the medical field. When patients have a negative interaction with your business, use it as a learning experience. Just as you look to your clinic or hospital staff to help craft customer service protocol, look to your patients to perfect your customer service.
The mere act of asking your patients for feedback provides a small boost to your customer service. Patients and clients like to know that you care about their opinion. They also like to know that your business is committed to listening and improving. Giving patients multiple outlets to review your customer service (website, phone survey, in-person questionnaire, etc.) will help you accumulate data and learn how to provide excellent customer service in healthcare.
5. Ensure Accountability at Every Level
Customer service suffers when a healthcare organization lacks accountability. If an employee knows that they will not be held accountable for their actions, they’re more inclined to provide poor customer service. Moreover, accountability can help your business identify areas in which it can improve. When a customer service issue arises, an accountability system helps mitigate problems faster.
For example, let’s say that you are a local health insurance provider. Your business handles dozens of calls per day. Over time, you notice that you are receiving negative feedback concerning your business’ over-the-phone customer service.
Rather than shrugging it off or reminding staff of your customer service policies, track the problem to its source. Hold the responsible parties accountable and evaluate the situation to see if it is a systemic issue within your organization. If you find it difficult to maintain receptionists who can provide quality customer service, you might consider a Nexa virtual receptionist. At Nexa, virtual receptionists are trained to handle every call with care and ensure patient satisfaction.
At the end of the day, you want your patients and customers to be happy. You don’t want to provide poor care or low-quality customer service. Fortunately, there are many ways to provide great customer service in healthcare without completely reinventing the wheel. You just have to focus on increasing accessibility, accountability, and communication within your organization.
If you’d like to learn more about how to improve customer service in healthcare, consult Nexa today!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is customer service so important in healthcare?
Customer service is another form of care for healthcare professionals. While caring for patients’ health should always be your #1 concern, you shouldn’t ignore the benefits of great customer service. Patients want to feel that they are being taken care of at every step in the process — from phone calls to nursing care.
How much does it cost to provide excellent customer service in healthcare?
The costs of improving your customer service will vary. However, the price of providing low-quality customer service is high. It could even cost you your healthcare company. However, many of the tips outlined in this article can be implemented at little or no cost to you. Additionally, a virtual receptionist is a great way to save on the costs of hiring, training, and maintaining an in-house receptionist.
How do I know if my customer service team is performing well?
This is why patient and customer feedback are essential. If you receive a lot of negative feedback related to interactions with your customer service team, you know that something needs to change. Alternatively, if your feedback is mostly positive, you know that you’re on the right track!