Patients have many options when it comes to choosing healthcare providers. Beyond physician expertise, practices must now compete in every aspect of the patient experience. The interactions at your reception desk or on the phone with your scheduling coordinator can mean the difference between a life-long patient or a missed opportunity.
It is vitally important that every aspect of your practice reflects your own professionalism and dedication to patient satisfaction. Ensuring that your office is as focused on patient satisfaction as you are can feel like a daunting task. What you need is a formal customer service program, one that diagnoses your weaknesses and treats them with a customized training program.
Where to Start?
You and your staff may not even realize how your actions are directly affecting your ability to convert inquiries into appointments. It can be difficult to monitor or even know what to look for when assessing your level of service. An assessment of office behavior can shed light on the areas to focus your future training. Secret shopping is a concept that is often thought of when evaluating retailers, but it can easily be adapted to the medical industry. Customer service evaluators can call and even visit your practice to observe and score in pre-determined categories. After the secret shop is complete, a customized training program can be designed around the practice’s specific performance gaps.
Now that you have a direction to focus your training, be sure to choose a program that covers both verbal and non-verbal communication.
Positive Language and Phone Etiquette
Being conscious of word choice during patient interactions is key and it goes beyond having polite, well-intentioned employees. Oftentimes, your office staff may not even be aware that the language they choose could be eliciting negative responses from patients. Routine interactions, such as appointment scheduling, can have a big impact on how patients feel about your practice, even before they walk through the door. Using the results from your secret shop, training teams can create modules and scenarios that directly target the areas where your team falls short.
An example to consider:
“We don’t have an available appointment until the 17th.” versus “We can see you as early as the 17th.”
The date hasn’t changed, but the latter response has a positive connotation. Therefore, your patient will come away from the second phone call with a warm feeling about your practice. He or she may even remark about the ease of setting an appointment and how quickly it was to be seen. The impact of scripting and dialogue training cannot be overstated; it is a must-have when choosing your training curriculum. Be sure that verbal communication makes up a significant portion of your course and that relevant examples are provided during the training.
Communication goes beyond what we say. Just as patients respond to the words that you and your staff say to them, they also respond to your body language and posture. It is important that your staff is trained to be aware of how their bodies are communicating and how their movement and gestures may even be contradicting the words that they use. Sitting up straight, making eye contact and smiling are just the beginning when it comes to creating a welcoming and professional office environment. Since your patient’s visits are onsite and live, it is important to choose a training program that mirrors the patient experience. It should be in person and grant your employees the opportunity to participate in a face-to-face exchange with the facilitators. While online courses may appear to be more cost-effective, they are not likely to have the same impact on your staff.
Do Your Research
There are many options available when it comes to customer service training. While many companies can provide broad stroke lessons to your team on proper customer service, it is important to seek out a company that can provide a medical-based program. Most techniques taught in customer service training can be applied generally, but you will see more success with a course that has a medical focus, and highlights specific situations and tools that your staff can directly apply to operations. Look for companies that have direct experience working with healthcare practices and can provide references. Points Group has years of experience evaluating and training medical practices and would welcome the opportunity to discuss the needs of your practice. Contact us today.