Eric Murray: Customer service prerequisite for patient patronage
January 18, 2009
Is it just me or are businesses and employees getting nicer as the economy corrects?
Every transaction seems friendlier and more accommodating lately and I like it.
More than ever before, the business owner knows that they must implement customer service policies and solid training in order to keep the customer. Employees seem to understand that quality customer service equals job security.
The health care industry understands that people have a choice. This makes health care just as competitive as any other business. We too realize the economic value of creating a culture of exceptional customer service. (Studies galore prove that customer service is the #1 reason people patronize health care providers.)
I recall a story from a few years ago that really drives home the importance of customer service.
A group of health care leaders and I scheduled an appointment with an affluent man in the community. Our goal was to recruit his support for the development of health care access in Grand County.
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As we sat at his impressive, antique conference table his patience quickly wore thin with our scripted and rehearsed presentation of health care demand backed with statistics and financial feasibility study reports.
“Tell me what you are doing about customer service,” he said as he kicked his boots up on his conference table, crossed his arms and proceeded to tell us how he had a bad customer service experience”not a bad medical experience, but a bad customer service experience–at the hospital clinic nearly 15 years ago that kept him and his family from returning.
“On top of that, [the story he’d just explained], I remember that the phone operator even answered the phone rudely,” he said. “I didn’t even want to call for an appointment after that.”
As he vented it dawned on me that the most important thing this person cares about is how he is treated. All of the market research and financial feasibility studies in the world wouldn’t begin to interest him until he believed customer service was being improved.
I recognized that he needed proof. Fortunately we had undergone customer service phone training with the front desk a month prior so I had a real improvement to show him. I asked him if I could dial our front desk at the hospital and put it on speaker phone. He agreed and sat up, curious to hear why I was doing this.
“Good Afternoon, Kremmling Memorial Hospital. This is Shelly. How may I help you today?” the operator said.
“Congratulations, Shelly. This was a test and you passed! Put me through to your clinic I’d like to book an appointment with a family doctor for my allergies,” the affluent man said.
I believe health care providers in Grand County are among the most compassionate, empathetic and flat-out loving people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. They all recognize that their customer service skills must pre-empt their medical talents if they are to continue doing what they love and serving Grand County.
So if you are like me and you enjoy doing business with people who appreciate the value you bring, keep local health care strong by booking appointments with local providers committed to keeping you healthy and serving you with a smile.
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