Attention all practice staff and owners! The end of the year is looming, and it’s been a challenging one. As you prepare to wind down before the holidays, and hopefully take some time for yourself and your family, these essential customer service tips for healthcare practices will give you some fresh energy and help you focus on starting the new year on a strong note.
In the entertainment industry, performers are reminded that even if they’re feeling tired or stressed, every show has a new audience that deserves the same experience as the one before. And, the same holds true for your clients; every person who comes into your practice deserves excellent customer service.
But, let’s be honest, that’s not always easy.
Modern life is full of personal and professional stresses, making it difficult to remain calm in challenging situations. But, if you want to build a loyal clientele, you must provide an excellent customer service experience.
To help keep customer service top of mind, we’ve compiled the best reminders to help you deliver a world-class performance! Let’s take a look.
10 Essential Customer Service Tips for Healthcare Practices
Believe it or not, excellent customer service is rooted in psychology, with emotional intelligence at its core.
It boils down to people skills, a catchall phrase for one’s capacity to leverage self-awareness, self-control, motivation, and empathy in order to engage with others. One’s ability to express oneself clearly, handle conflicts, create friendships, and work together are all considered people skills.
According to a recent survey, 83% of participants stated that customer loyalty and excellent service convert one-time customers into long-term brand supporters. That’s exactly the recipe for practice success; building excellent relationships with long-term customers.
Here are 10 essential customer service tips for healthcare practices that will change the way you think about your clients’ experience:
1. Make Every Client Feel Seen
A personal greeting and a genuine attempt to connect with each client is a simple way to make an impact and start every interaction on a positive note.
From the moment your client engages with your practice, ensure they feel welcome and acknowledged. You can achieve this goal through 4 simple steps:
- Set up a friendly voicemail for missed calls.
- Set an automated email response so that customers know you received their interaction.
- Reply to emails and calls using the customer’s name, giving the interaction a personal touch.
- Get to know your customers and try to remember details of their lives that they share with you. Following up on special events will make your clients feel appreciated. For example, if they mention that their grandchild is having a birthday, follow up the next time you see them and ask how the party went.
2. Maintain a Positive Attitude
Your positive attitude and enthusiasm will set the tone for each client interaction. When things get hard, take a deep breath and remember the difference you might be making. Stay committed to helping people and solving problems.
Some tips for maintaining a positive attitude include:
- Building your self-awareness – Be aware of how you communicate to others and how your energy or actions will impact the people around you.
- Learning calming techniques – Whether it’s yoga or meditation (to name two examples), it’s worth dedicating some time in your busy day to keep your mind healthy.
- Focusing on your tone – If you’re in a bad mood, the way you speak to others might read as unintentionally harsh. Try your best to put your struggles aside when dealing with clients, even if they’re the source of your frustration.
- Maintaining hobbies and personal routines – According to research, there’s a correlation between practicing hobbies and reducing depression and stress, improving overall mental health.
- Creating daily affirmations – Remind yourself daily of what you’re grateful for and what you appreciate about yourself, your practice, and your clients. You can do so every day when you wake up, arrive at your practice, or before you go to sleep.
Having a positive attitude can positively impact all aspects of your daily life. No matter the challenges that life (and clients) present, feeling positive will help keep you calm and centered.
3. Demonstrate Compassion & Empathy
We never really know what’s going on in a client’s life, so help them as best you can. Life can be hard on everyone, so aim to be the bright spark in your client’s day.
Furthermore, if your client is angry, combat their anger with empathy. If you or your team made a mistake, listen attentively, acknowledge their pain, and sincerely apologise.
On the other hand, client aggression is often a projection of additional triggers incurred throughout their day and has very little to do with you in the first place.
People often need just to vent frustration, and unfortunately, you sometimes might be the target. Handling such situations can be challenging, hence the need for a positive attitude and a daily dose of self-care.
Finally, if your client tells you a personal story, listen attentively and do your best to react appropriately to make them feel appreciated and heard.
4. Act with Professionalism & Respect
Everyone deserves your respect, so hold yourself to the highest standards in every situation – even when others aren’t acting that way. Respect clients’ time, opinions and loyalty to your practice.
Even if you strongly disagree with your client’s views and opinions, focus on remaining civil and polite (you may need a mantra that you repeat to yourself for those especially challenging patients).
5. Really Listen
When your client communicates with you, ensure that you listen attentively, whether they’re relaying medical information or service complaints.
Don’t jump to conclusions and seek first to understand by giving clients your full, undivided attention. A fantastic tool for active listening is to restate your understanding of the client’s situation to demonstrate your comprehension of what you’ve been told.
6. Find Solutions
Don’t dismiss your client’s concerns or complaints – instead, present solutions to their problems. Give clients clear options for a solution and path forward. Furthermore, state any instructions slowly and clearly, and take ownership of the client’s problem until it’s resolved. If you find that you make a mistake, acknowledge it and take steps to correct it.
According to statistics, 78% of customers will return to a supplier with brilliant customer service, even if the provider has made a mistake. This data proves that it’s not about making errors but how willing you are to find solutions.
7. Communication is Everything
Keep clients informed and remember, it’s always better to over-communicate than under-communicate. Some brilliant tips for communication include:
- Sending out a regular newsletter and even wishing your clients a happy birthday. Power Diary’s practice management system can help you communicate effectively by creating automated communication templates.
- Responding promptly to emails, SMS’s and calls.
- Asking if there’s anything further you can assist with after you’ve resolved a query.
Regular communication is essential for making your clients feel seen and appreciated.
8. Become an Expert in Your Field
Dedicate yourself to knowing the ins and outs of the practice, and stay up-to-date with best practices for your healthcare discipline. That’s not to say that you need to know everything. If you don’t know the answer to a client’s question, make it your mission to find out. It’s perfectly acceptable not to have the answers to every question. Your client will appreciate your honesty and willingness to assist.
9. View the Client Relationship as Long-Term
Think of every new and existing client as a long-term patron.
Your goal is not only to help clients in one appointment but to retain them in the long-term and earn word-of-mouth recommendations from them as well! 92% of respondents to a survey conducted by Neilson said that they’d trust their friends and family members’ opinions on a service provider.
10. Thank Every Client, Every Time
Last but not least, don’t forget the importance of gratitude. Communicating gratitude conveys appreciation and respect for your clients. 2020 and 2021 have been challenging years for business owners, but your clients have kept you going. Thank every client for their time and for entrusting their health concerns to you.
From the moment a client interacts with your practice to the final goodbye, it’s your team’s job to make their experience as pleasant as possible.
These customer service tips for healthcare practices will assist you in going above and beyond to treat your customers with dignity and respect.
While caring for customers should not come at the expense of your team’s wellbeing, you should always try to ensure that your clients’ needs are met (within reason) and do your utmost to resolve any queries or complaints.
Finally, remember that excellent communication is essential to running a smooth practice. Our practice management software can aid you in your quest to help your clients feel seen and heard.
BONUS: Downloadable Customer Service Reminders & Examples of Positive Language
Positive language can help keep client interactions positive and reduce misunderstandings. Often, the same thing reframed in a positive sense will result in a much better outcome.
|Instead of this…
|I can’t help you right now.
|I can help you as soon as I finish this call.
|Call back tomorrow.
|I’ll call you back tomorrow.
|We didn’t do that/it’s not our fault.
|Let’s see what we can do.
|We can’t get you in until Friday.
|We can get you in on Friday morning.
|I’ll find out what the options are.
|This is the policy.
|Here’s how we handle this.
|I can see you’re upset.
|The only thing we can do is ___.
|The best option for resolving this is ____.
|Let me get you the information you need.
Remember, our clients may not always be right, but they are the driving force behind everything we do.