CHECKLIST: MAKE CUSTOMER SERVICE A PRIORITY
Teach the soft skills 1
Hire more staff 2
Improve the aesthetics 3
Improve efficiency from check in to check out 4
Use surveys to improve the patient experience 5
1 TEACH SOFT SKILLS
Let’s start with staff training, because great customer service must be a team effort. I was recently speaking with a friend who told me she likes her optometrist, but there’s that “one employee” who works there. Just one rude or disengaged employee can taint an otherwise stellar experience for a patient. To address this, don’t limit staff training to teaching the technical aspects of the job — teach the soft skills as well. Spend some time role-playing different scenarios, so staff becomes comfortable responding to various situations, such as answering difficult questions and responding to patient complaints. Take 60 minutes.
2 HIRE MORE STAFF
Do you have enough staff? While adding more staff will increase payroll, consider this as an investment in the level of service you provide. If increasing your staff allows you to see more patients or provide better service, you will see a positive return on this investment.
A good rule of thumb to follow is one full-time equivalent employee for every $150,000 of collected gross revenue. Take 30 minutes to calculate your payroll ratio.
3 IMPROVE THE AESTHETICS
Next time you walk in to your practice, try to experience it from the patient’s perspective. Aesthetically, what impression do you get? What does the practice smell like? What music is playing? Is the office clean and without clutter?
First impressions are very important. Attractive aesthetics communicate high value and quality to the patient. The alternative communicates the opposite.
Following this exercise, create a to-do list of actions that will improve office aesthetics. Take 30 minutes.
4 IMPROVE EFFICIENCY FROM CHECK IN TO CHECK OUT
Do patients frequently complain about long waits at your office? Practice inefficiencies lead to long wait times, bottlenecks, high stress and a poor experience for the patient. Observe the entire process from check in to check out, and look for ways to improve efficiency and patient flow.
Start by identifying items that negatively impact the patient experience (e.g. lengthy amount of paperwork) that you could either stop doing or minimize. Take 60 minutes.
5 USE SURVEYS TO IMPROVE THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE
I was recently on the phone with a consulting client who insisted patients loved her practice, and customer service could not be the reason business was suffering. As she was talking, I was reading the litany of one-star reviews on the practice’s Yelp page.
When it comes to customer service, it doesn’t matter what you think — it only matters what your patients think! If you want to know what your patients think — then you must ask them. Start sending patient surveys following exams. Use this information to improve the patient experience. Take 60 minutes to observe the processes in your practice. OM