Exploring the importance of good customer service in healthcare
Good customer service is expected from any business in any industry, but for healthcare organisations it’s particularly important to put the customer experience first. From the bedside manner of doctors and nurses to the helpfulness of administrative staff, every interaction that a patient makes with a healthcare organisation must be clear, friendly, and supportive to ensure the patient feels at ease and cared for. Here are five reasons why good customer service is so important in the healthcare industry.
1. Good customer service builds trust
It can be daunting for people to put their health and wellbeing in the hands of strangers, so it’s important to nurture trust between healthcare professionals and patients. Trust grows from honesty and clarity, which is why clear communication is vital. When a patient experiences clear, direct, and friendly customer service from their very first point of contact with a healthcare organisation, they’re more likely to feel they can trust the organisation to be honest with them and take care of them.
Trust not only helps patients feel more comfortable and relaxed throughout their care, but it can even contribute to better health outcomes. There’s clinical evidence that patients with high levels of trust in their healthcare professional report fewer symptoms, higher quality of life, higher satisfaction with treatment, and more beneficial health behaviours than those with low levels of trust. By establishing a strong basis for trust right off the bat with good customer service, healthcare providers can do their utmost to achieve excellent outcomes for patients.
2. Customer service extends to patients’ loved ones
It’s not just the patient who requires strong customer service in the healthcare industry. Family members, friends, and caregivers should also be considered as clients and treated with care, honesty, and respect. It’s common for patients to bring a companion with them to healthcare appointments for emotional or practical support, particularly if they’re vulnerable, they require physical assistance in attending appointments, or they need help remembering critical information. Organisations must build trust and rapport with these companions just as they do with the patients themselves.
In some situations, family members or friends take on the role of caregiver and help in administering ongoing treatment when the patient is discharged. In these cases, clear communication is vital to ensure care is administered in line with the clinician’s advice. Caregivers need to feel valued by clinicians so that they can feel confident asking questions, clarifying information, and advocating for their loved one. It’s also important for caregivers to have access to support lines should they need advice, and it’s vital that customer service agents adhere to appropriate security protocols to ensure sensitive patient information is appropriately shared and protected.
3. Clear communication prevents medical malpractice
Clear communication is a key aspect of good customer service because it ensures that customers and service providers are united in their expectations of one another. This is particularly important when it comes to healthcare. Healthcare professionals must have a clear understanding of the patient’s symptoms, medical history, and desired outcomes in order to make accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans. Patients must have a clear understanding of the healthcare professional’s proposed treatment plan so they can make an informed decision to consent and cooperate fully with the plan.
Good communication between healthcare professionals and patients also helps to minimise the risk of life-threatening mistakes. Any miscommunications in the healthcare industry can have serious consequences for the patient if they lead to improper treatments being administered. Good customer service tactics, such as listening to the patient, clarifying facts, answering patient queries, and maintaining detailed patient records, all play a role in maintaining clear communication and minimising the risk of medical errors.
4. Patients may need 24/7 support
Sometimes patients require non-emergency support outside of typical office hours, such as if they have unusual symptoms to report, or they need clarification about their medication dosage. If a patient can’t speak to their healthcare provider right away when these queries come up, they may face unnecessary anxiety which could hinder their recovery. Even worse, they could self-administer medications or treatments incorrectly and put their health in danger.
By providing a 24/7 customer service line, healthcare organisations can take patient queries at any time of day. Trained customer service agents can answer simple queries to put patients’ minds at ease, and for more complex queries they can schedule appointments with healthcare professionals or transfer the patients to on-call doctors or nurses. Patients often feel reassured once they know that their query is being dealt with, and simply having access to a 24/7 support line can give them valuable peace of mind that will help them feel relaxed throughout their treatment and recovery.
5. Effective appointment scheduling is key to patient wellbeing
When patients require ongoing care, their wellbeing depends on them attending appointments as frequently as set out by their clinicians. When patients are busy, anxious about their care, or simply forgetful, it can be tricky for them to remember to schedule and attend their appointments. An integral part of customer service in the healthcare industry is managing appointment scheduling and minimising no-shows.
A signpost for good customer service is when a healthcare organisation reaches out to patients to arrange appointments, rather than waiting for patients to initiate contact. This ensures that patients see healthcare providers as stipulated in their treatment plan in order to optimise their health outcomes. It’s also helpful when organisations send out appointment reminders, which are proven to reduce no-shows by 90%.
Give patients peace of mind with strong customer service
Good customer service optimises health outcomes for patients and ensures they have a positive experience from their very first point of contact right through to their discharge from care. When healthcare organisations prioritise customer service, they make sure their patients are properly taken care of and made to feel supported and valued throughout their treatment.