Good customer service is an imperative factor in the healthcare sector as it is in any other field because people’s lives depend on the quality of care provided and the interactions between patients and the service providers.
A lackadaisical customer service leads to bad medical care and bad medical care might cause clients to complain or engage in other actions that can harm a medical business. You must not forget that healthcare customer care is a humanitarian service and patients are customers.
When we consider enterprises where customer service is key to the success of a business, we are likely to think of retail, travel or hospitality as being the most significant sectors. However, customer service in healthcare should not be overlooked for many reasons:
– Today’s patient (customer) is an educated person who controls and monitors their own healthcare spending.
– They are aware that patient experience does not start or end at the doctor’s physical office. They know how to retrieve information about an establishment by gathering information from multiple channels, mainly the Internet.
– They are looking for quality customer service that extends beyond pleasant staff demeanour.
– And lastly, the Covid-19 pandemic calls for a more hands-on hospital customer service to operate effectively and streamline operations.
When we consent that patient (customer) loyalty is also built upon all these various factors, we cease to underestimate the customer or patient’s role in the gamut of customer experience. Before trying to provide great customer service in the healthcare industry, knowing today’s customer base first helps us discern the difference between healthcare customer service and the other industries.
The major difference is that healthcare customers are ‘patients’.
The second difference is, they typically do not want to be in any healthcare situation voluntarily unlike customers from other industries. Going to the doctor or the hospital can never be a pleasant experience for any of us, with or without the pandemic.
By classifying possible sources of patient discomfort in such a scenario, and having a well thought-out customer service plan, a practice or hospital can set themselves up for the best possible patient/customer experience.
10 Tips on How to Improve Customer Service in Healthcare
- Improve End to End Customer Experience – Outstanding customer service in healthcare includes many touch points and interactions between the customer and the healthcare company. This provides the establishment an opportunity to influence the customer’s perception about the quality and value of care that is received. It can be actions as simple as the subsequent list:
– Minimise wait time during appointment scheduling
– Ensure accuracy and maintain up-to-date information on patient data
– Provide instructions and appointment confirmations via multiple channels like email, chat, messaging that can be included in the procedure to improve end to end customer experience.
- Be Technologically Available ONLINE
Technology is the bridge that connects modern healthcare and modern customer service to the patient or customer. Having information available online, access to doctors and appointments through a website, and getting answers to queries are great tools to help patients feel seen and heard while also providing an extra layer to the customer service experience.
An efficient CRM company helps improve communication between the patients and your staff; it delivers appropriate medical information to your patients and reduces waiting times – all of which contributes to a positive patient experience.
- Provide Smooth & Easy Access to Billing and Insurance Claims
The billing-and-insurance-claims process is the most distressing part of a patient’s healthcare experience, alongside his/her health condition itself. A great hospital customer service should be able to-
– Help expedite time-delays
– Streamline miscommunications
– Record data accurately to prevent frequent re-work of forms or unnecessary interactions
– Optimize promptness and accuracy in processing requests and queries
- Use Data Responsibly to Ensure Patient Privacy and Confidentiality
Queries related to information security and co-operation still call for a permanent solution.
Data collection tools in healthcare are mainly stored on laptops and PCs, which repeatedly leads to data security glitches.
Here too, using cloud-based platforms for storing data is a good solution to this problem that can aid hospital customer service staff to protect the patient’s personal and medical information by incorporating different security mechanisms.
- Deliver Effective Operations and Guidance During the Covid-19 Pandemic
As healthcare workers across the country and around the world fight on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, a consistent inflow of customer support for healthcare providers can help make their jobs a lot easier.
– Medical customer service agents can expedite time-consuming manual documentation in testing centres with the help of a cloud-based CRM application that can be accessed from any mobile device.
– Customer service staff can streamline incoming patient assessment
– Limit in-coming patient contact to only the most essential interactions
- Provide Post Discharge Support
If the treatment was fruitful and the patient did not request a follow-up appointment, most hospitals sever communication with the patient after discharge.
However, an exceptional healthcare customer care effort is to stay in touch with the patient even post discharge and improve their involvement in their own health management as a gesture of goodwill and concern.
Additionally, an efficient healthcare CRM system systematises medication intake reminders and follow-up emails with health tips and healthcare services pertinent to the patient’s condition!
When engaging with healthcare companies, patients expect more than treatment – they want care. Providing post discharge support might feel a little out of the way for most healthcare professionals but putting a smile on someone’s face can never be termed as wasted time!
- Assist Customers Select Products & Services
Marketing and branding play a big role in the overall strategy of customer service in healthcare. The first touch point in the customer experience is the selection and review of products and services that the patient needs.
A good healthcare facility should be able to influence the patient’s decision making process with marketing materials, advertisements, brochures and other promotional materials that showcase core values and in-house services and facilities that encourage them to come to you.
Yet, keep in mind that an outstanding medical customer service experience should be able to Walk That Talk, and not leave patients wanting for more. Promising one thing and delivering something else, is not the mark of a high quality customer experience. The goal should be to cultivate lasting relationships and not approach patients as transactions.
- Smoothen the Check- In Process
Just as a delayed discharge process is traumatic to patients, so is a long drawn process of checking in! And even more so, given the fact that an incoming patient is seeking treatment for his/her health condition contrary to the discharge procedure. And most often than not, there is an undercurrent of urgency to it.
Customer service staff should know that the check-in process is their first interaction with the patient and opinions are being formed from the moment they walk in. They can make it convenient for the patients, especially ailing ones, by –
– Hastening the data collection process
– Managing wait times efficiently
– Offering empathy and compassion for their condition
- Incorporate Soft Skills and Professional Grooming Program for Front Desk and Support Staff
Happiness is a two way street, especially in customer service! You can’t expect delighted customers, let alone patients in need of care and support, with a grumpy front-desk and support staff, who are the first and frequent points of contact in a hospice establishment respectively.
Medical care facilities who really want to know how to improve customer service in healthcare, should invest in the incorporation of a comprehensive in-house grooming program for their staff.
The program will help the participants realize that soft skills in patient care are slightly unlike any other industry. Dealing with patients, who are unwell and are looking for relief, teamwork and prompt action from the healthcare providers takes presence of mind as well as immense compassion for those who are suffering.
If customer service in healthcare can provide a sympathetic yet smart team of people leading the customer experience, you will have no dearth of happy customers and more-than-happy referrals come at you in no time!
- Support the Customer Service Staff
Together we can! Should be the mantra for hospice establishments in order to improve customer service in healthcare.
The entire team can help to enable the support staff’s ability to deliver an excellent customer service experience by providing them the information and tools they need.
In order to make that possible, healthcare companies can ensure that the customer service staff have access to –
– Uninterrupted patient information
– Integrated systems that enable effective data sharing
– Dependable IT system or CX platform for resiliency and accuracy
Last but not the LEAST
Providing care that is respectful, responsible and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, guides all clinical decisions. Taking a patient-centric approach will guarantee customer retention as well as a never-ending influx of referrals for the healthcare company.
Every industry is a customer service industry and the healthcare community must take a holistic approach to not only being world-class in the clinical experience, they must step up to becoming world-class in the overall customer experience itself.
That must be a priority to inspire a better healthcare system.