For many companies, the core of every strong reputation is an exceptional customer experience. For medical practices and healthcare organizations, this can be tough to achieve. After all, culture defines behavior, and consistent delivery of that behavior is key to influencing all levels of the patient experience. Without a clear understanding of your organization’s culture, the expression of its behavior can run amok of your brand, as well as your customers’ trust.
If your practice doesn’t have the time or budget to invest in a long-term change management program to establish the systems and processes for delivering a consistent, choreographed customer experience strategy—fear not. There is still hope, and it begins with six simple changes that can have an incredibly big impact.
This post explores six actionable tactics that many practices can implement right now (today, tomorrow or within the week) that can immediately improve customer experience, perception, and set the brand on the right path toward building a solid reputation. However, this is just a start, and a deep-dive into your organization’s culture and vision for your aspirational reputation are key to understanding what steps you can take to further improve your customer experience strategies.
Remove the phone from the front desk.
If you don’t do anything else on this list, at the very least do this. Removing phones from the front desk removes distractions for your staff that would otherwise detract from the patient experience. If the first impression your patients have at their first interaction with your team is being told to wait—or worse—feeling rushed in order to answer an incessant ring tone, then you’re already setting up the expectation for their care as less than optimal, and less than personal.
Unless absolutely required by law, remove any flyers, posters, placards or signs that aren’t branded from the waiting area.
Signs printed from your office printer clutter your waiting area and paint a tacky scene of unprofessionalism. Furniture and décor aside, this is the first impression your patients will get of your practice when they walk through the doors. And, it will give them a taste of the culture before they’ve had the chance to say hello to your team. If it’s not something you’d put on your fridge at home, then don’t put it up on your office walls.
Ensure restrooms are clean, and stay clean.
It should go without saying that a clean restroom speaks volumes about how clean the rest of your clinic is—or should be. Create a routine where your team checks the guest restrooms periodically throughout the day to ensure it remains spotless and tidy. A dirty restroom can instill doubt in the cleanliness of your office, team, and even your procedures.
Scrubs represent a badge that, when worn, communicates to patients that you’re all in this together, working as a team. In this way, your team can leverage the collective strengths of each other’s delivery of care. After all, a patient who receives great care from one team member may associate that same level of great care with others visibly identified as team members. However, the alternative is also true. Bad care begets distrust in the entire team. To take it up a notch, update your dress code to remove sweaters, hoodies and other articles of clothing not appropriate for a professional work or clinical environment.
Invest in Team Development
We often say that patients go to a medical practice because of the reputation of the doctor(s). They scour the net for reviews and rankings. And, while they may have an excellent experience with the physician, the medical staff may deliver something far less satisfying. As a result, we often see patients come because of the doctor, but leave because of the staff. Your team is what keeps patients coming back. Invest in their development, include them in planning and strategy to improve patient experiences, and enable and empower them to deliver on those approaches. You’ll be surprised what may result.
Allow for real, honest feedback, and make it public.
Transparency is becoming increasingly important in today’s digital age. What they can’t find in your practice can certainly be found online through review sites like Google Places, Yelp, and HealthGrades. It’s important to encourage two-way conversation with your patients about their experience. Have your staff ask patients how their experience was, ask them to leave an online review, enact quarterly surveys, or incorporate real-time patient experience analytics software into your practice. One or more of these methods can ensure that you deliver on your promise of care, and afford you opportunities for intervention should the experience be less than stellar.
While not an exhaustive list, these six things can be the start of a larger customer experience strategy. Talk with us today about how we may be able to help you deliver on your brand promise, while impacting your brand reputation.