Research shows outstanding customer service has only a little impact on loyalty, whereas poor customer service has a major impact on disloyalty.
So how much should our staff concentrate on going above and beyond if this doesn't have very much impact? Will having a free fancy coffee machine, taking the pts coat and phoning them a taxi to take them home actually encourage pts to come back or should we be focussing our attention on other things?
Customer satisfaction scores show a poor correlation to loyalty, whereas scores of customer effort required correlate well. So as part of patient surveys we should be asking them to rate how much effort was required from them to achieve their objectives of booking/ changing appts etc.
Ideas to help make pts journeys easier:
1) Make your website simple but as useful as possible. If you can make it possible for the pt to achieve things like booking, cancelling or rearranging appts via your website it will make your pts life easier as well as freeing up your reception team to allow them to concentrate on other tasks.
2) Does your website answer questions that can avoid the need for a phone call such as providing extraction post-ops in case pts lose the printed version? Or giving advice about dry sockets and wisdom tooth problems.
3) Have you considered an automated reminder service by text or email? For many pts it will be simpler than a phone call and once again frees up your receptionists' time.
4) Encourage pts to carry a copy of their prescription with them at all times therefore making it much quicker and easier to update their MH at each appt as well being better if they have a medical emergency in public.
5) Consider ipads for updating MHs and addresses etc.
Self checkin screens can mean less queuing for a pt when they first arrive.
Have you spotted a trend with these ideas? By concentrating on making things simpler and easier for the pt you are also making things easier for yourself as well? This means that your receptionists will have a lot more time to concentrate on different tasks such as a wildly important goal (have you read the 4 disciplines of execution yet?). Or alternatively if they can identify the small percentage tags of pts for whom outstanding customer service does help they can go above and beyond for those individuals rather than trying to do it for everyone and failing.
Dr Chris Harper