In today’s competitive and demanding healthcare industry, it is vital that all health care workers learn to improve their customer service skills.
We all serve somebody. At the top of this list are the patients you’re trying to attract and retain. But if your goal is merely “satisfaction,” you’re aiming too low–and a competitor hospital, health system, or clinic will take advantage of this.
Patients who are simply satisfied with your services can easily be swayed to go somewhere else if they have a choice. In fact, customer satisfaction studies have shown that people who are rationally satisfied behave no differently than those who are dissatisfied.
If patient choice plays a part in their decision, the only patients who will keep coming back–who will be consistently loyal and who will recommend your hospital or health system to others–are those who feel emotionally connected.
Beyond Service Excellence Healthcare is designed to reinforce a working knowledge of key opportunities to make these emotional connections, as well as employee behaviors that can weaken or strengthen the connections.
- Three Types of Patients
- Promoter – emotionally satisfied
- Customer – rationally satisfied
- Detractor – emotionally dissatisfied
- Participants are asked to give real life examples of patients from these three categories, as well as to delineate the different effects each type of patient will have on their business.
- Research and case studies from the Gallup Organization are used to support the qualitative difference between emotionally connected patients, rationally satisfied patients, and dissatisfied patients.
- We introduce the Customer Service Ladder–to gain a Promoter, you must achieve success on all five rungs:
- Bottom rung: Procedural Efficiency
- Second rung: Technical Excellence
- Third rung: Professional Courtesy
- Fourth rung: Product Innovation
- Top rung: Personal Connection
- Participants are asked to prioritize each rung from the perspective of senior leadership, their direct supervisor, and themselves.
- Participants are asked to grade the success of their entire organization, their particular department, and themselves with respect to each rung.
The Four Opportunities to Create an Emotional Connection
- Disinterest creates a disconnect. “Disinterest” is when you come across as impersonal, indifferent, rude, or disingenuous.
- Participants are asked to split into small groups and asked to share their own experiences, as patients or customers, with employees who had bad attitudes. They are encouraged to reflect on how it affected their commitment to that place of business.
- We present a psychological analysis concerning why some people have a disinterested attitude at work.
- Enthusiasm creates a connection. “Enthusiasm” is when you demonstrate a sincere belief in your product or service, coupled with a genuine desire to help.
- Each group is asked to simulate one of the previously told stories of bad attitude in a roleplay. They then roleplay the same situation but with a different (good) attitude.
- We present a psychological analysis concerning why some people have an enthusiastic attitude at work.
- We explain and practice together the mental technique of developing and maintaining a positive attitude.
- Self-centered communication creates a disconnect. This is when you talk more than you listen. This can include an overemphasis on process, product, or personal knowledge (“Let me tell you what we can do”).
- We conduct discussion to determine ways in which patients feel processed rather than genuinely served.
- Altruistic communication creates a connection. This is when you listen more than you talk. This includes inquiring, empathizing, and validating their needs (“Let me ask you what we can do”).
- Our trainers review what it means to make a good impression. Some aspects of this include:
- Being accessible
- Showing interest
- Demonstrating balance
- Defensiveness creates a disconnect. This is when you refuse to admit or correct a service failure.
- We ask participants to share stories of their own experiences, as patients or customers, with service failures, with a focus on times when an employee, manager, or owner was defensive and refused to take responsibility.
- Taking ownership creates a connection. This is when you do everything within your power to completely rectify a service failure in order to win patient loyalty.
- Participants are asked to share their own experiences with service failures in which the employee, manager, or owner took extraordinary measures to make things right.
- Then, participants brainstorm together about potential frustrations and grievances that patients might have, and discuss appropriate corrective responses. This time will be particularly tailored to the participants’ unique context and needs.
- We review research from Gallup and GPW Institute that demonstrates the link between employee engagement and patient / customer engagement.
- Engaged employees are the by-product of inclusive managers.
- We stress the importance of a workplace culture of positivity. Managers need to communicate positive and affirming messages at a 5:1 ratio to achieve highly engaged employees.
- Participants are paired off with a partner and asked to share a story of when they were able to make a strong emotional connection with a patient. The RDR facilitator will debrief after this time, and help participants identify the specific factors involved in winning patient loyalty in each situation.
- Finally, participants will be asked to complete a personal action plan that articulates ways they can improve on creating emotional connections with patients.