5 Things Your Staff Should Be Doing To Retain Patients
- Posted on: Aug 2 2017
How can you increase patient satisfaction at your plastic surgery practice?
The instinctive answer would likely be, “Give them the results that they were hoping for.” This, of course, is true. As an ISAPS plastic surgeon, you know that you will be able to help them with whatever cosmetic issues they want addressed, but there is far more to your plastic surgery practice than just surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures. From the minute your patient calls your clinic to the time they’re fully recovered from their surgery, they should have a smooth and professional customer service experience. A great deal of the burden of this experience is on your clinic staff. They are the ones who most often interact with patients, book appointments and answer questions, and are the first point of contact when a prospective new patient calls the clinic.
Retaining patients is a team effort, so here are a few things that your clinic staff could be doing to increase customer/patient satisfaction and bring you repeat business.
1. Phone Training
Odds are that the very first person-to-person contact that prospective patients are going to have with your plastic surgery clinic will be over the phone. Even if you have an interactive website where they can book their own consultations, the majority of your patients will still default to a phone call when wanting information or making an appointment. This means that your staff’s telephone game should be top-notch.
There are many outside firms that offer professional telephone training with a focus on customer service, but there are a few systems that you can put into place right away. First, make sure that the phone is always answered promptly. The longer patients have to wait, the less they may think of your practice. Your front desk staff should always be driving the conversation, offering multiple calls-to-action throughout, such as, “Would you like to make an appointment?” On any phone call, your staff should be giving the caller their full attention, with no multi-tasking taking place. Finally, if your staff needs to put the caller on hold, make sure that they hear the caller acknowledge and approve this, before hitting the hold button.
2. Dealing with Customer/Patient Complaints
In a customer service environment, every complaint, no matter how small, should be treated with the utmost seriousness and attention. So when you are dealing with something as serious as someone’s personal appearance, the stakes cannot be higher.
An extremely high level of sensitivity and care should be taken with every single complaint that is addressed to your clinic or your staff. Likewise, every step should be taken to address their concerns. If a front desk staff member cannot address a complaint, it should be immediately escalated to someone who can. Angry or frustrated patients should feel like they are being listened to and cared for, and that everything is being done to address their issues.
3. Keeping Your Clinic Looking Its Best
In the medical business, we know the importance of cleanliness. When in surgery, everything needs to be sterile, clean and safe. This perception also extends to your plastic surgery clinic. Your clinic should be spotlessly clean: no dust, no dirt, and everything in its place.
You likely have a cleaning staff to take care of the overall cleanliness of your clinic, but your front desk staff, as well as everyone else, should also do their part. Recycling should be mandatory, and taken out on a regular basis. Workspaces should be tidy and organized, without excessive clutter. Lavatories, of course, should be spotless and well-stocked. Waiting areas should have clean seating and floors, magazines should be tidy, plants need to be watered, windows washed. Don’t forget things like door handles and light switches, which are often handled, but sometimes overlooked. Also, exterior spaces need to be looked after. Any litter in parking areas should be picked up, and the sidewalks swept. Make sure that walls and signage are clean and well-maintained.
4. Limiting Distractions in the Office
Smartphones have revolutionized the way that we communicate with each other. They’ve also created an almost impossible-to-ignore distraction for customer service staff across the world.
We’ve all seen distracted, unengaged employees checking Facebook or Twitter on their phones while they are supposed to be working. Even the best, most focused employees will be distracted if they feel the vibration of a text. If they don’t answer it, they will be wondering who it is from, what is was about, etc. This is one of the reasons that personal cell phone use should be limited or banned while your staff is actively working. For emergencies, the office phone should be used rather than personal numbers.
Similarly, work computers should be for work. Any personal use, from playing solitaire to checking mail, should be prohibited. This will eliminate a major potential distraction, and a huge danger as well, since personal use could open your computer network up to viruses or other online dangers.
5. Going the Extra Mile
Exceptional customer service is often about the little things. Yes, phone etiquette and complaint resolution are important, but it might just be the little things that a patient will remember. A smile and a greeting by their first name when they come in the door. A lollipop or other kind of candy for children (or adults, they like candy, too!) If a small mistake is made, such as a lost appointment or a misunderstanding, some kind of compensation should be immediately offered before a patient even thinks to ask for it. Your staff should always strive to exceed patient expectations.
From beginning to end, the entire experience of getting plastic surgery can be stressful for patients. They might be unsure about their desired results, with a lack confidence in themselves and their appearance. The customer service experience they have with your staff can really make a difference, making them far more likely to come back to you, and to refer their friends, for procedures in the future.
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