How do we begin to understand who our patients are and what they're expecting in the care that they receive? Well, we must take the time to get to know them. We must ask them questions; we must develop an understanding and outstanding relationship.
Let’s think about it this way. Think about a time you last received excellent care or top-notch customer service. What are you looking for when you’re searching for a new provider or looking into purchasing a new product? It doesn’t matter if its a TV or a cell phone. It doesn’t matter if it's a primary care doctor, a dentist, or a gynecologist. What items are you looking for? Now with each item or each service, it may be different, but generally they follow along these following objectives: excellent customer service or comfort and compassion, quality, availability, knowledge, and referrals from friends and family.
With that being said, we must remember the following rules when it comes to providing excellent patient care.
- We must remember to smile. Be genuine, but smile. Have you ever called a company and you can just sense that the representative isn’t happy about what they are doing or you just get a bad vibe and so you call the next option on your list?
- Be friendly and kind. You have to remember that your patients are not in the same business you are in. Although you may receive the same question time and time again, it is most likely the first time that that patient has asked you this question. Don’t brush it off or act like your patient should know the answer. No question is a dumb one and we must be courteous and kind with our responses.
- We must grow our knowledge and remain positive. Knowledge and positivity will always beat speed when it comes to providing great patient care. Have you ever called a company to ask a question and you're transferred 2 or 3 times, but your one question could really just take 2 or 3 minutes? Next, you’re on hold for 20 minutes waiting to speak to a representative. If a patient asks you a question that you are not sure the answer to but you know you can easily get the answer, rather than leaving them on hold or waiting for another team member, kindly let them know that you’ll be happy to find the answer for them and ask them if its okay that you’ll give them a call back when you’ve gotten that answer. 9 times out of 10, your patient will be appreciative that you took the extra effort to find that answer for them.
- We need to remember that we are responsible for the growth of the practice, each and every one of you are the face of your practice; and ultimately you are the influencer when it comes to the patient making a decision.
- We must listen. We must make things easy. And we must provide the patient with the information they need.
- We must understand that upset customers are not an outcome. Upset customers are an opportunity for us to evolve and grow and learn what to do next time something comes up. Look at upsets from a strategic point of view, analyze what the cause is and find solutions.
- We need to give our patients the benefits of the doubt, understanding our patient’s behavior is huge and we must understand that we need to continue to provide positive patient care. Perhaps your patient is having a terrible day, and the slight attitude they have with you, isn't because of you at all. In fact, they are just having a rough day or they just received a phone call that was nothing more than easy. We all have our days, but in your position, while you’re at that practice, you must find a way to work past that and to keep a smile on your face. Don't take it personally.
- We need to continue providing excellent patient care and communication as your practice grows. As companies grow, things change. But the number one thing that must remain the same is the way that we treat our patients. This leads to the next rule.
- We must focus on the value of retention vs a value of a simple transaction. We are in the business of providing long-term care, and we can only do that if we remain consistent and compassionate for our patients. Remember, it costs us 5 to 25x more to gain a new patient than it does to retain one.
- Last, we must remember that every single interaction matters. Did you know it takes 12 positive interactions to make up for 1 negative experience. Let’s aim high and make every interaction a positive one.