While the healthcare industry refers to the people it serves as patients, the customer service mentality is key. When people feel they've gotten excellent customer service in healthcare systems, that often means they got excellent medical care.At Chicago-based Presence Health system, Corporate Security Director Nick Kowal says the top customer service skills that set their health system apart are addressing patient complaints quickly and being sensitive to their needs, from the time they’re admitted to after they return home.
Great customer service - in healthcare and in every industry - isn’t just about how you and your staff behave when things are going smoothly, it’s also about how you face challenges and complaints. Employees should acknowledge complaints immediately, keep customers frequently updated about the status of the issue and, perhaps most importantly, be empowered to resolve situations.
Kowal, who has been with Presence for 15 years, describes the company as “sensitive to customer complaints and needs.” A detailed survey goes home with each patient to get their feedback about their healthcare experience, and Presence is “always doing follow up from the patient side,” he says.
Your business may not have customers’ lives at stake, but you and your staff should still commit yourselves to taking their complaints seriously. Fairness is the name of the game and should drive your complaints policies, procedures and customer service standards. Customers will appreciate your attentiveness and that your policies and the way they’ve been implemented have been fair.
Presence Health is the largest Catholic healthcare system in Illinois, with more than 150 locations statewide, including 11 hospitals, 27 long-term care and senior living facilities. The health system clearly spells out its patient care philosophy in its Patient Rights and Responsibilities.
“At Presence Health, we see our patients as partners in healthcare; informed about and involved in their treatment. The rights and responsibilities are intended to foster our patients’ dignity, autonomy, and involvement in their own care.”
Your organization’s mission and vision statements should articulate your unique approach to customer service and care.
Presence Health also seeks accreditation from The Joint Commission, an independent non-profit that conducts unscheduled inspections to determine if hospitals are in compliance with standards for quality, patient safety, and the safety of the environment. The commission has its own complaint and feedback mechanism for patients and their families.
If your industry has a similar organization or body, seeking accreditation can send an important message to customers about your commitment to quality and resolving complaints.