Your brand relies on the team you build. We can guide you towards creating a team that understands the importance of customer service within your clinic, since at the end of the day, it takes an entire team to make a good doctor and practice.
Here’s how you can prioritise your patients’ needs from the waiting room right to when they walk out the door. Being well-versed in customer service leaves your patients feeling comfortable seeking you out for treatment, they know that they can count on you to manage their care.
Why Is Customer Relations Important in the Healthcare Industry?
Customer service has always been a vital aspect in every sector and organisation. The healthcare industry is one of the most important sectors that has gone full steam in terms of rendering customer service to patients. Good customer relations can have a profound impact on a patient’s overall care experience.
The healthcare sector is not about being client- or consumer-centric for the sole purpose of generating revenue. Instead, this industry focuses on helping and treating patients to improve their quality of life. The patients’ health depends on the quality of customer service provided and the communication established between the patients and staff members.
Let us look into the roles of customer relations in the healthcare industry, especially in providing the best possible care for every patient.
Sets Expectations for the Quality of Care
Let’s say your healthcare company consists of the most skilled and experienced physicians, nurses, and medical staff. However, if your customer service is not up to par with the patients’ expectations, you are failing to provide high-quality healthcare.
Healthcare customer service ensures that the medical care provided to the patients will also meet their needs and expectations.
Your goal as a healthcare company is to build long-term relationships with your patients. Focus on helping them with their health concerns instead of focusing on a transactional approach to every interaction.
For instance, if a patient calls in and is not able to reach out to a physician when they need it, they are going to feel dejected and look for the next best option. The patient will also likely assume that that reflects the care they will receive from your institution.
Happy Patients Are More Likely to Return (Happy Patient = Good Doctor-Patient Relationship)
Good customer relations help create a loyal fan base. If your patient is happy and satisfied with the unparalleled care you have provided, they are more likely to return to your clinic. They will also be more likely to recommend you to their family members, friends, or co-workers.
Although not often recognised, a good doctor-patient relationship is one of the best examples of customer loyalty in any industry. The essence of great doctor-patient relationships starts with providing exceptional customer service right from when a patient calls to the time they are discharged.
Meanwhile, unhappy and dissatisfied patients are likely to search for the next option if they get a less than warm feeling about your customer service. The reputation that you develop for either poor or excellent customer service will be crucial in determining whether potential patients seek your medical care in the future.
Good Customer Relations Sets Patients at Ease
For most patients, going to healthcare facilities is a confusing, scary, and stressful experience. By providing good customer service and identifying potential pain points, you can set your patients at ease while improving their overall experience.
On the other hand, poor customer service can indicate serious underlying issues within the healthcare company. The failure to deliver quality healthcare can be due to one or a combination of the following reasons:
- Medical staff being unable to handle the urgency of a situation, which can arise from a particular condition
- Having a casual approach towards patients
- Inefficiencies in some processes
- Disjointed aspects of customer service that can impede the progress of treating a patient
How to Provide Quality Customer Care at Your Practice?
Healthcare customer service includes many interactions between the patient and the healthcare company. These interactions give you an opportunity to influence your patients’ perception of the quality of care they are receiving.
Below are the key points in providing quality patient care in your practice and how to improve them.
Leading Your Team of Clinic Staff
The first touchpoint in healthcare customer relations is the selection of services and products that the patient needs to address their health issues. This touchpoint is the initial interaction between a patient and the healthcare company.
The key factors that can influence your potential patients’ first impressions are your clinic’s marketing materials, reputation, and relationships with other healthcare providers. Most patients often compare advertisements, recommendations from family and friends, reviews, and referrals from other providers to determine the right services for them.
A good customer service platform provides a holistic view of your healthcare institution’s services and products. This, along with your marketing or promotional materials, can be effective tools to help you target potential patients.
Creating an Organised Clinic Schedule
Scheduling an appointment is the first engagement between the healthcare company and the patient. This stage determines whether your healthcare customer service is efficient and can gauge the urgency of the patient’s needs.
You can streamline and improve your clinic’s scheduling by doing the following:
- Minimise the waiting time to schedule an appointment
- Reduce time necessary to collect patient data
- Provide appointment confirmation, instruction, and reminders via call or email.
- Have accurate and up-to-date data to identify the most convenient time for appointment scheduling
- Consider using a digital interface with self-service capabilities to enhance the patient’s scheduling experience
Once the patient has received the necessary medical services, you need to ensure that they are able to sustain good health. Most patients often require more than a one-time appointment. They will also need follow-up appointments for further tests or referrals.
While the patients’ first impressions are essential, their last interaction with you will greatly influence their overall impression of your customer service. It is necessary to keep a consistent patient experience through a continuation of care.
Here are some ways you can maximise the impact of your follow-up interactions with patients:
- Schedule follow-up appointments through phone calls. It helps establish a personal connection with the patient.
- Check-in with patients and ask how they are feeling. This simple act demonstrates that your healthcare company cares about the patients’ overall wellbeing.
- If the patient needs testing or referral, you can also assist in scheduling appointments for them.
- Ask if the patient has any follow-up questions and provide the necessary information. It helps address any doubt they may have regarding post-treatment care.
- Provide patients with an invitation for future engagements. By fostering long-term relationships with patients, your clinic will be the first in their minds when they need healthcare services in the future.
Providing Clear Information Regarding Billing
Many patients are not only stressed about their health issues, but they also worry about the healthcare costs. The billing and insurance claims processes are often known for their delays and miscommunications. Thus, you must ensure that finance-related matters are part of your overall patient care experience.
You can further improve your healthcare customer service by offering financial advice or assisting patients in billing and insurance processes. Financial counselling is necessary for educating patients on their financial responsibility and payment options.
Also, make sure that your billing staff has access to patient records. Their interactions should be recorded and stored for future reference while processes optimised for accuracy and efficiency.
How Customer Service Takes the First Line of Defence Where Feedback Is Involved
Patients develop their impressions about a healthcare company from the moment they call in and have their first interaction. Good customer service takes a patient-centric perspective to ensure that they receive the best possible care.
Every staff member in your practice is potentially a customer service representative – from the scheduling staff to the nurses, physicians, and billing staff. They all play an essential role in making the patients feel comfortable and at ease. It can make a big difference in better patient-centred care.
By delivering an exceptional customer experience, your healthcare company can build a lifelong relationship with patients.