Professional Image and Customer Service: Measure – Improve – Succeed
A well-planned customer service program combined with a sound professional image not only differentiates your practice from the competition, but it sets the tone for the entire patient experience. It also helps you maintain a competitive edge in a marketplace where prospective patients have the option to use one of the clinics that are popping up in retail locations such as Walmart or CVS.
Gone are the days when a physician could simply find a location and patients would flock through the door. Some physicians have compensated for this new competitive landscape by offering special procedures or acquiring a specific skill set to gain a competitive edge. The reality, however, is that a successful practice must commit to customer service excellence along with a superior professional image in the community to differentiate itself from the competition. It sets the tone for the entire patient experience before the patient even arrives for their appointment!
Your practice’s professional image can make or break you as far as attracting patients. The most skilled physician in the area doesn’t have much chance of providing those skills to patients if he or she has a negative reputation in the community. Of course, this issue is compounded with the prevalence of social media. One poor comment on Facebook or one negative tweet can reach hundreds of existing and prospective patients and have dramatic effects on a practice’s reputation. It can lead to a negative spiral and can affect your revenue for years.
What are some things you can do to improve your professional image?
Pay attention to how your staff behaves toward patients. While everyone has their own specifics of how they like to be treated, the consensus is that all customers like to know that they are appreciated.
Are they conveying this message with a friendly and appreciative attitude?
Is your staff friendly and appreciative of their patient’s business?
Do they know all of the services your practice offers and do they convey that to the patients?
Do your employees stop conversations among themselves to greet and facilitate the patient’s visit?
How long are your phone wait times? A recent mystery shopping “patient” was surprised to learn that a call went unanswered after 7 minutes!
Be sure your décor reflects an up-to-date and progressive image. If your office is sporting a motif from the 1980s, your patients may not trust that you are keeping pace with the latest skills and technology. Take the time to make updates to portray a look that is from this decade!
Use your website. Be sure to have an up-to-date website that portrays your professionalism and friendliness toward patients. Include forms to help expedite the patient’s initial visit, clear information about office location (with landmarks), and be sure your site is easy to navigate.
Hire a professional mystery shopper. A mystery shopper can provide valuable insight that you, yourself, might miss. Like any patient, a mystery shopper will call your practice, ask questions about services, make an appointment and rate the experience from the intitial call through the office visit. A good mystery shopper will provide a detailed, written report about phone and office wait times as well as their experience with staff members and the provider. You will gain an objective view of what your patients experience as well as the effectiveness of your office flow.
Differentiate your practice from your competition by measuring your image and patient experience with mystery shopping. You’ll learn where you can make improvements that can help you achieve success for years to come!
Want more information?
Contact Lauren King, Director of Customer Service, via email or call her at 800-635-4040 to learn how mystery shopping can help your practice!
If you have questions about this topic or any other issues around the business of medicine, contact us via email or call us at 800-635-4040.