Following-up with patients is not only critical to compliance and outcomes, it is a key factor in building stronger, healthier patient relationships. When patients provide feedback indicating their expectations were not met, a quick follow-up phone call will increase the likelihood the patient remains loyal to the practice.
Failure to do so will open the door for the patient to look elsewhere for their healthcare and leave negative comments on Google, Facebook, Healthgrades or other similar social media sites.
In the Forbes article titled, “The 7 Worst Customer Service No No’s When A Customer’s Upset”, by Micah Solomon, Mr. Solomon says it clearly, “Customer service recovery (turning things around when a customer is upset, disappointed, irritated, flustered, or all of these things at once) is one of the essential skills of great customer service.” (1)
If your healthcare organization subscribes to M3-Patient Experience®, you and your team have perhaps the most powerful service recovery tool available on the market today. It’s not just my opinion, the director of operations for one of our larger physician groups had the following to say about M3-Patient Experience, especially the service recovery timing.
Timing IS Everything
“The service recovery feature MedicalGPS has developed as part of M3-Patient Experience allows our practice managers to reach out to our patients, in near-real time, immediately after the visit, whenever a service failure occurs. I have never seen, nor do I know of a system available on the market today that even comes close to M3-Patient Experience.”
— Director of Operations,
40+ Physician Group
Seven “No No’s”
The seven “No No’s” from the Forbes article are paraphrased and briefly mentioned below. To learn more, I encourage you to check out the article in its entirety here.
1. Don’t blame another department.
2. Don’t correct the employee in front of others.
3. Don’t assume the worst.
4. Don’t assume you know what the customer wants. Ask.
5. Don’t strive for ‘‘fairness’’ or ‘‘justice.’’
6. Don’t imagine you’re doing something special for a customer.
7. Don’t underestimate the lifetime value of a loyal customer.
A Lifetime of Loyalty
Overlooking, or taking a casual attitude toward service recovery will cost medical practices and healthcare organizations significantly. The quote below from one additional Forbes article titled, “Why You Must Rethink Your Attitude To Service Recovery,” by author George Brandt, says it well.
“Things go wrong. Good companies make them right. Great companies go beyond that to making the people who were wronged feel better. The lifetime value of loyal customers is common knowledge.” (2)
A lifetime loyal customer is not a new concept to healthcare organizations, especially physician practices. Many of us build trusting relationships with our primary care provider and remain loyal to “our doctor” for decades.
What is new to healthcare is having to meet or exceed patient expectations in a digital world where just about anything may be obtained by the patient with the click of a button.
Say Hello to Millennials
In the MedicalGPS article titled, “What MedicalGPS Practices Need to Know about Millennials,” the following description of the Millennial generation puts the spotlight on the challenges related to caring for and serving this age group.
“Often called ‘The Instant Gratification Generation’ or the ‘Drive-Thru Generation,’ Millennials have grown up with on-demand services like Amazon and Netflix. They expect convenience, transparency, and mobility in everything they do.
This group of consumers is currently the largest living demographic group in history, surpassing the baby boomers, comprising more than 83 million according to the US Census Bureau.
They spend more than 600 billion annually and are the generation with the greatest buying power, which is why organizations and brands all over the world are clamoring to appeal to this group and gain their attention, business, and loyalty.”
Making a Difference
Just the title of this ABC News article says it all.
Physician practices that cater well to Millennials understand how to attract Millennials. Below are some TIPs from the ABC News article mentioned above. (3)
- Increase Access: Many physician practices are hiring additional physicians and nurse practitioners to see patients more quickly.
- Information Apps: Patient portals and other digital tools that enable patients to communicate with their care team from mobile devices is huge.
- On-line Appointment Scheduling: The ability to book, change and otherwise manage appointments via smartphones and other hand-held devices makes a difference.
- Virtual Visits: Offering convenient, easy-to-access telehealth visits are expected.
Of course, all generations, including Millennials, expect and appreciate when someone reaches out after a service failure.
Showing compassion by taking action to contact the customer/patient to offer an apology is usually all it takes to turn a disgruntled customer into a happy, highly satisfied customer.
Providing exceptional service recovery makes the difference!
Please let us know if you have comments or questions, and subscribe to our Email Updates, so that you can be assured to receive Thinking Thursdays TIPs.
Jerry L. Stone