You might not automatically connect customer service and physician marketing, but the two have a symbiotic relationship. The happier your patients are, the more they talk about you to their family and friends. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing assets a practice can leverage.
Patients are no longer just people that come to the doctor when they are sick. Today’s modern, social network-savvy individual is a health care consumer shopping for the best customer service available. Are you ready to provide it?
Stand by the Phone
You don’t have to literally stand by the phone waiting for patients to call, but you do need to be assessable. A trained member of the practice staff should man the phones, and answer within the first few rings. It will allow new patients to talk to a live person when they have questions, too. If possible, dedicate one employee to be responsible for answering the phone and booking new patient appointments. New patients are always judging their experience, a poor first impression when answering the phone can drive new patients away from your practice.
Make a Good First Impression
Physicians Practice points out the front office staff are the most critical when it comes to making a good first impression. They should look and act professional, whether greeting patients at the door or talking to them on the phone. The practice will benefit from good customer service training, preferably with a company that specializes in the healthcare industry.
Include the physicians in the training, too. Blog KevinMD.com explains that physicians are not known for their customer service. Medical school may provide lessons in bedside manner, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into basic customer service skills. Part of the doctor’s job is to build a relationship with patients and that means learning how to relate to them on a business, as well as, medical level.
It is a simple way to show the patient you are on top of things. That little extra touch opens up the lines of communication and gives them an opportunity to ask questions prior to the appointment. You can also use call backs as a training tool for new staff, so they can practice listening to patients and master the basics of phone etiquette.
Learn to Put Out Fires
A practice's reputation is everything when it comes to physician marketing. It is critical that you have a plan in place to handle negative feedback. Assign the task of monitoring the Internet for mentions of the practice, so someone can deal with problem situations before they have an impact.
Set up an in-office system for complaints, as well. This might help deter people from venting on the Internet. Something as simple as posting the name of the office manager, so an unhappy patient knows whom to ask for when there is a problem can divert some bad publicity.
Get Patient Obsessed
In the end, it is the little things that will generate the most positive feedback from patients.
- Attention to wait times
- Call backs after a procedure
- Remembering patient names
- Offering an interactive and informative website
- Creating communication channels via social media
- Delivering on expectations
Customer service means caring about what happens in the practice and taking steps to improve the patient experience. Do that and you can naturally generate new patient referrals.