Is There Room for Patients on Your Bottom Line?

I’ve done my time as a senior executive. I get that the bottom line is what drives us. What I have to ask is: You do know customer service is part of that, right?

In any industry filled with opportunity in the form of big dollars, we often see numerous players. One only has to look on either side of any city street to see a variety of coffee vendors. Little wonder that if you don’t get your coffee as ordered and in a timely manner, you walk down the street to someone that understands you – the buyer – have the power. These guys get customer service.

The minute you walk into a bustling coffee shop, there is an energy that gives you a sense you are in the right place. Maybe it’s the music, the pleasant aromas, the smiles and chatter amongst people on both sides of the counter … whatever it is, that first impression has been made.

What’s the first impression in many healthcare organizations?

The minute you walk in, conversation stops. Your demeanor becomes more serious …. subdued. There is an absence of color, texture, and sound.

If it were only that, I think I’d accept it. Unfortunately, the atmosphere is off-putting and that includes the reception patients receive. It’s not rocket science people … smile, if nothing else.

We all have horror stories of bad receptions where the admin staff appears disdainful, unfeeling, and unprofessional in the initial exchange. Every now and then we get a good reception and what a difference it makes to the entire visit!

Case in point: A patient in front of me left the medical facility in tears because the staff member yelled that they didn’t know how long it was going to take and they were tired of being asked the question.

Rest assured, I didn’t ask the same question … but I wanted to.

Just last week, at the lab getting my blood work done, a technician assured the patient in front of me that they had a bed for her (for when she fainted giving blood), and that it wasn’t an uncommon request, and she shouldn’t feel bad about it in the slightest.

Maybe the different staff members were having bad and good days. Maybe some people just aren’t meant to be client-facing. And, maybe some organizations just don’t care about customer service. Because, if you care about your bottom line, you care about customer service, even if you aren’t getting it right.

One can’t help but posit: What can your healthcare organization do differently to better serve the patient?

As a patient, how do I get that experience of being served without being regarded as just a number? I realize we – the patients – aren’t in the same power position as coffee consumers, but wouldn’t it nice?

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