Healthcare is evolving and how. Gone are the days of patients choosing their doctors based on hearsay or by simply asking around. Patients are increasingly researching doctors online and reading reviews on clinics & hospitals left by other patients. (Read more: Is an online presence for doctors really important?)
In this era of consumerism, healthcare practitioners must realize that great customer service leads to happy patients and positive feedback.
The 3 Ps of service
The famous 4Ps of marketing (product, placement, promotion & price) are well-known. But for a service business like medical practice, there are 3 other Ps that complete this mix:
- People (how you & your staff interacts with patients)
- Process (management of patients & protocols at your practice)
- Physical evidence (tangibles like ambiance that your patients experience)
Without getting into complexity or leaning on jargon, we present
6 simple tips to ensure great customer satisfaction
1. Keep it simple & streamlined
Always keep in mind that the main purpose of any patient walking into your practice is to meet a doctor for diagnosis or treatment, and this interaction is likely to last only for a few minutes. However, in the process of getting a consultation, patients go through several experiences, the most common being registration & billing. Patients often need to queue up and go through half a dozen forms, which ends up taking a lot more time than what is actually spent in the consultation room. Cumbersome processes not only tire an already sick patient, but also end up causing dissatisfaction and frustration.
Protip: Ensure that you have simplified the registration, billing and any other processes by merging and automating them.
2. Be open & transparent
Patient confidence stems from transparency at your end – be it in your policies, processes or communication. Along with degree certificates, doctors can consider displaying on their wall a code of ethics and the Hippocratic Oath. Practices can also consider displaying consultation fees and costs of standardized procedures. Such small changes go a long way in establishing trust and confidence in the minds of patients.
Protip: Inform & educate patients about all costs associated with medical procedures before proceeding to treatment.
3. Be punctual
Like it or not, but patient experience is heavily influenced by waiting time. It’s well known that practices which don’t make their patients wait for long tend to have happier customers and more positive reviews & recommendations. You can ensure punctuality not only by training your staff better, but also by tightly organizing your calendar and judiciously following it.
Protip: Using a software for scheduling patients makes life easier for you & your staff, and also vastly improves patient experience.
4. Have a helpdesk
Every good clinic has a front desk or reception that is always available to answer any questions from patients. Front desk managers ensure that none of your patients have to wander about your practice, wondering about processes or directions. In fact, the front desk can also collect valuable feedback that will help you address concerns from patients, eventually leading to a drastic improvement in customer satisfaction levels.
Protip: Brand your front desk or reception as ‘help desk’ so your patients know where to go when they have questions.
5. Make patients comfortable
Since healthcare is intangible, there is not much room for differentiation. The 7th P that we discussed earlier – physical evidence – includes tangible elements that are a great way for your customers to identify and differentiate you from your competitors. As a clinic, you can comfort your patients with:
- A peaceful waiting area with calm lighting and soothing music
- Comfortable seating with padded seats rather than benches
- Clean washrooms and furniture
Protip: Invest in comfort, not cosmetics. A great ambiance is just a side effect of comfort!
6. Manage relationships, not patients
CRM or Customer Relationship Management has gradually become an integral part of an organization’s success. It begins with collecting, organizing and maintaining your patient’s personal information. Your practice must collect all contact information in the first visit itself, to ensure that you can keep in touch with them via convenient channels like SMS or email. To make it easy, you can use software that allows you to send email & SMS reminders to patients.
Protip: Send a SMS to your patients every six months, reminding them about their regular checkup. Patients will appreciate the gesture while you build great relationships.
We hope this post gave you actionable points to implement at your practice from today. If you follow some innovative ways of improving patient experience for your patients, please let us know by leaving a comment.