Customer Service In Health Care – Will It Ever Change?

A recent article, “Is Your Team Hurting Your Occupancy?” discusses the importance of customer service and word of mouth – and that bad news travels fast.

I could not agree more, as I believe customer service, i.e. the willingness to serve, is or should be foundational for health care – acute and post- acute. However, good service is not what many experience in these settings. We have all been in situations in a facility or hospital where the person who is supposed to be assisting you seems annoyed even irritated by your presence, let alone delighted to assist you.

Customer satisfaction is driven by the customer “experience,” the sum total of how customers engage with a company or organization; not just a single moment but throughout the entire time in which they are a customer. The “customer” in health care includes not only the resident/patient but also their family, friends and others who may visit the facility.

I believe to create an excellent customer experience service in health care, the practice of serving others should extend beyond patients/residents and families to include service to employees from leadership and service among/between employees. When service to all is the focus – an expectation for performance, in time, it simply becomes a way of life, routinely practiced without effort or thought.

Exemplary service is everyone’s job and I believe it should include every person that employees come into contact with including every person who calls, visits, delivers supplies, or picks up the trash. In essence every person who has any contact with the organization should have a good experience. Each person will leave with a feeling about the organization which they will act on, telling others about a good or bad experience or determining whether they themselves would use the services you provide.

A customer’s experience is the result of concrete, controllable elements that can be created or changed to enhance the experience for everyone. And it does not come about by chance. Every company provides a customer experience – good, bad or indifferent – and it is up to the organization to determine that experience.

Ultimately however, I believe the level of customer service/experience is the responsibility of leadership.

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