Patients and Communication
The topic of patients and communication is very important when it comes to your business. There is research and studies that continue to point out the need for improved customer service in healthcare. We continue to read about the negativities with staff at physician offices and how customers are dissatisfied with their experiences. We have all heard the saying that a satisfied customer will tell only 5 people about their experience and an unhappy customer will tell at least 20 other people. Can you imagine what a negative online review can do to a practice? While looking at a number of medical practices with online reviews the lower rating practices were because of unfavorable experiences with the office staff, and the favorable ones were about their positive experience with the physician or healthcare practitioner. Another statistic to think about is that about 68% of your customers will leave because of being ignored, and the lack of customer service. Customers will most likely place greatest value on their first impression, so make it a memorable one, for the right reasons.
Healthcare practices know that patients are generally not seeking care because they are healthy; most times it is because they are sick. There are many emotional and physical characteristics that go along with being sick, so office staff will need to evaluate the best way to communicate with an individual. Whether a receptionist greets a customer on the phone or in person, whether they are dealing with a healthy or sick patient they must remember that he or she will be having a very private experience, and they deserve the support and attentiveness of caring individuals.
Below are a few simple guidelines to follow while interacting with your customers.
1. Always connect on some level to your customer.
If a patient comes in and they are feeling under the weather, they will feel more of a connection with you if you have a sympathetic and caring tone to your voice and you are sincere. This holds true on the phone or in person. A customer can tell when you are overwhelmed or stressed, so make sure you answer all phone calls and greet all customers in a positive manner.
2. Look at your customer.
This may seem simple and basic, but how many times has a person been in an office, and the receptionist is too busy with other tasks to actually look at the customer standing right in front of them. This is called acknowledgement. It is important when communicating with your patients to acknowledge them, and make sure they know you are dealing with them at that specific point in time, eye contact is one of the first steps.
3. Listen to your customer.
Most patients won’t really know if you hear them if you do not acknowledge them as stated in the second guideline, so verbal acknowledgement is also necessary. Sometimes this can come in a simple form like “What you are saying is…” or “What you are telling me is…” Remember that the tone of your voice and the look in your eyes will also be important to using these phrases with your customers, the can sense when you are not sincere. Try to stay away from using the word “I” in your acknowledgement, as this can come across as if you are making it about YOU and not the customer.
4. Use caution when communicating with patients.
You are dealing with personal and private information in any healthcare office, and the staff must be mindful of the sensitivity that comes along with this information. Patients can be concerned with everything from their co-pays to their weight. Treat each patient with care and dignity.
It is important to remind yourself that when you are in healthcare, you have chosen a profession or place of work that is established to care about people. It is not just a pay check, it is a relationship that goes beyond a copay or a bill, it is relationship that people will have for their entire lives. All staff is there to make an impact on each person’s life, no matter what role you play so make it a positive one.
Social media is another place where connections can be made with your patients! Read How Doctors Are Using Social Media to Connect with Patients to learn more!