p. 166 | The Overall Patient Experience and the New Approach to Customer ServiceYour patients are not who they were 10 years ago. The same goes for how they perceive their experience with your practice. Sorry to tell you, but it just isn’t the same.

The truth is, for a lot of patients, the entire patient experience starts and ends online. In fact, a majority of patients begin their journey by checking to make sure a physician is in-network with their insurance. Then, they check online reviews and/or your website to make sure it looks like your physicians are well rated and practice medicine in a professional setting. Once the appointment is made (probably via a request form on the website) and the patient finishes their visit, they’ll return online to leave feedback about how great, or not so great, their experience was.

Is that fair? Probably not. But as patients move toward digital-first communication preferences, and as 75% of patient interactions are completed with a member of your team and not the physician, the importance of overall patient experience has become more important than ever.

To survive and thrive in 2019 and beyond, your practice needs to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to customer service, and that takes an entirely new approach to management, leadership and engagement.

Tune in to discover:

  • What customer service means today
  • The difference between the old way and the new way of customer service
  • Why establishing a connection with your patients is an integral part of today’s customer service
  • How to put yourself in the shoes of your patients and make them feel valued
  • Why marketing is now a team sport

Free Healthcare Awareness 2024 Calendar

Nearly every month of the year has a health holiday or observance, and there are also a number of awareness months that your patients and staff would love to know about. You also don’t want to miss chances to celebrate with your practice’s followers.

2024 Healthcare Awareness Holiday Calendar for Medical Practices

Free Healthcare Awareness 2023 Calendar

Nearly every month of the year has a health holiday or observance, and there are also a number of awareness months that your patients and staff would love to know about. You also don’t want to miss chances to celebrate with your practice’s followers.

Transcript Notes:

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast, you prescription to the answers you seek to grow your medical practice easier, better, and faster. This show is all about collecting practice administrators and medical marketing professionals with peers working in practices, learning from experiences, making mistakes and sharing successes. Let’s get started.

Jennifer: Hey there. Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. I’m Jennifer.

Susan: And I’m Susan.

Jennifer: We’re here today to continue our conversation on the overall patient experience, the new approach to customer service. So let’s get started.

So Sue, it looks like today we’re going to be talking about one of our favorite topics and that is the overall patient experience and the new approach to customer service, especially in a medical practice. I think that customer service now is so different than it was back in the day, maybe when you were involved in customer service, back in the 80s and the 90s. And part of that is just because the whole patient experience has, the patient experience landscape has changed.

And now it’s like we’re partly involved in marketing, were partly involved in delivering not just excellent care but excellent customer service. That all plays into the patient experience and that patient experience plays into what the physician practices that we’re working with all the time are really paying attention to. And that’s the overall reputation of the doctors and the star ratings that are showing up on the front page of Google, which then circles back to patient experience.
So I think that the best place for us to probably start is just to talk about customer service. What does customer service even mean anymore?

Susan: I like how you brought up the fact of back in the days in the 80s and 90s about customer service. I worked for international companies such as Walmart, Unilever, AT&T. And just probably up to about 10 years ago, customer service meant a certain thing. When you look it up in the dictionary, it says that customer service is the act of taking care of the customers needs by providing assistance and advice to those people who buy or use a company’s products or services.
That’s the way we used to treat it back then, it was either assistance or advice. So it was like a single interaction.

Jennifer: Was it like me calling you because I needed help with, I don’t know, my telephone?

Susan: Correct. It was answering your question or providing some sort of advice. And it was just something that happened at this transaction or this exchange that was just in that particular moment.

Jennifer: So yeah, the other day I having a, as you know, I bought a condo over at the beach with my mother. And I was trying to get my internet set up at the condo. I already had it set up and I got this note saying that my bill was overdue and I didn’t have a copy of the bill. So I logged into my account for my internet provider for my main house and I didn’t see the condo on there. So I had to call the company.
It took 38 minutes of being on hold and to find out, I get a customer service rep and he was very friendly. But basically when I asked him how, I told him what was going on, I said I want these accounts combined so I can log into a single account and pay my bill. Basically he told me no.

And it was really interesting because he was just answering my question. He really wasn’t providing solutions. Then the solution finally that I got out of him was so asinine that it was like, he’s like when you could just create a dummy account over on the side and tie it to it, but you’re right. I think that some companies out there, and these are major companies, are still going by this whole customer service rep is just there to get you off the phone as fast as possible, to answer whatever question you have and to move on to the next customer. And that’s how it felt for me.

Susan: Correct. It’s very a fact based, nonemotional. So you leave, your takeaway is was my question answered in a satisfactory manner? And it could be something you want to hear. It could be something you don’t want to hear. Although it was strictly just fact based and you had, it left you with no emotion.

Jennifer: I had some emotion but he did not have any emotion when he was dealing with me. He was just dealing with me. It was interesting too for me, maybe my mother would be okay getting a bill in the mail and it being two separate accounts and then writing a check. But I don’t really write checks. I’m a little bit of a younger generation and I want to be able to log in to my portal online and pay the bill and this company did not allow me to do it. And so yeah, you’re right. I mean, it was very nonemotional. He just answered my question. He kind of offered a solution but it really just was not the right solution for me. And yeah, I got off the phone and it had been resolved, but the fact is is like it was resolved and it was like, what else can I say? But my overall experience was, I just was unhappy with my overall experience.

Susan: And that was reactionary from a customer service standpoint. It was you reached out to them and they solved a problem or answered a question. It’s very reactionary from the company’s standpoint.

Jennifer: Absolutely. And it totally felt that way. And from a standpoint of our audience, people that are working in medical practices, I could see how the practice or the person in the practice is still functioning kind of in that old system of customer service.

Susan: Hey there, if you like what you’re hearing, be sure to check out our new employee engagement and training platform designed specifically to help engage, train and motivate your medical practice employees. For only $8 per month, your employees get access to valuable training specific to your practice and can earn certificates of completion that they can hang or display on their wall or cubicle. Your employees earn points and badges for every training that they complete while you get peace of mind knowing that your employees are getting the training they need to better do their jobs.

So make sure you come over to insightmg.com, check out our new employee engagement and training platform. Thanks a bunch for listening. What do you do if you go into a practice and you have a knee surgery or something that you’ve got coming up? From that standpoint, what would be the example from old school customer service inside the medical practice itself?

Jennifer: So I, back in the late 80s, tore my ACL in college soccer. I know that kind of gives away my age. So going into the orthopedics and into the surgeon’s office, you were … Going into my knee surgery, you were given basically a list of things kind of what to expect or what to handle when you get out of surgery and you get home. A lot of that I didn’t understand.

And nothing really talked to me or spoke to me as far as, I didn’t want to be there. I mean, when these patients come into the doctor’s offices, they’re coming in because basically there’s a problem, there’s something going on with their body and they didn’t choose for that to happen. So I just want to know I’m going to be okay and I want to know that somebody with my activity level, what is my recovery at that point? What truly am I looking at? And I really wasn’t told any of that back then. You were just given this sheet of paper with a list of things on it and said, here you go, go home.

Susan: Yeah. And I think that going through this with family members that are going in for surgery or something, you always seem to like have to have somebody else in there with you to help you remember the things that have to happen. Because it’s just that single interaction from a customer service standpoint, like you were saying. It’s one interaction, answering your question in that moment and then you move on. And we all know that when you are in a medical office that you might get five minutes with the actual doctor and the rest is, the 75% of your time is spent with people that are outside of the doctor himself. It’s the support staff.
And so if the old school customer service is you’d ask that support staff a question, they’d give you an answer. And I think that it’s this old versus the new way of things happening. I think the reason for the new way, the shift in customer service is all about that overall patient experience. And that overall patient experience is multiple touch points.

It may be five different touch points interacting with a potential patient that’s going to make up the patient experience as a whole. And the reason that is so important, one that our employees are engaged in the customer service process now. But two, that patients have a positive experience, the reason that is so important is because patients, their first experience with your practice is happening outside of your practice. It’s happening online.

So to your ACL example, maybe back in the day, back in the 80s, we may not have sent you home and said hey, Sue when you get home and you’re sitting in your bedroom and you’re looking on your computer trying to understand what’s gonna happen in your ACL surgery, now I may say to you hey Sue, there’s a lot of information that you took in from the doctor today. You’ve got to prepare for your ACL surgery. But when you’re sitting at home at 3:00 in the morning and you can’t sleep because you’re nervous about this, I want you to go to our website and read our FAQs, what to expect with your ACL surgery.

And by the way Sue, we have 10 different videos on the website of the doctor providing detailed explanations, a step by step process of what you’re going to expect in your ACL. And by the way Sue, if you watch all of that and you still have questions here is a back line number that you can call to the PA or to one of our folks that works with the doctor very closely on knee replacement surgeries are knee surgeries in general and they can answer your questions. But please go through all of these videos first and see what you have.

That’s an example of the new types of customer service. And that is being proactive versus being reactive. I think you’ve got this old school mentality and not necessarily in a bad way of folks that used to, worked in customer service or had a certain level of expectation 20 years ago. But now you have this younger generation and our expectations are much higher from a customer service standpoint. And because we live in this immediate gratification, me society, it’s so important that we’re proactive in our customer service and our overall customer service with the goal of really improving and moving the needle on patient experience. Because patient experience will make or break a practice in today’s modern day.

Jennifer: Yes. And patient experience also brings about that connection. The connection with the patient to the staff, to the nurse and the connection to the doctor. And there’s also connections with patient to patient. And that’s the thing that I think old school customer service doesn’t do. They don’t, you don’t feel connected in any sort of way. You do not feel that you even have value. You just feel like a number.  And the practice that I had gone to regarding my knee, it was like a cattle call. I mean you walk in, you’re just a number of you walked out, here you go, see you. However, from what you’re saying is moving forward, if you use that process of the patient experience and take that further and that is more than just one exchange, that is the overall journey.

Susan: Absolutely. And I think especially when you look at these changes generationally, where this younger generation that grew up, I don’t want to give millennials a bad rap. But working with millennials, it seems as if you need more positive reinforcement, working with them day in and day out. Just because it’s a generation that grew up being okay with getting a ribbon versus winning. Where your generation, you’re going to go in to talk about your ACL, you’re gonna find that you have surgery. You might be a little bothered that you have some surgery. But you’re going to figure it out and you’re going to suck it up and you’re going to do what research you need to do and you’re going to move on.

This new generation that is now coming in for these ACL surgeries, they need a little bit more interaction. They need that personal connection. They need a little bit more coddling and they need that positive reinforcement. And that’s where having to be more proactive, I think, on a customer service standpoint, they’re going to interpret their overall patient experience different because they are different than maybe you would or I would.

Jennifer: And that is a huge difference because everybody receives and retains information differently.

Susan: I couldn’t agree more and I think that that is, that’s key because everybody receives and retains it differently. That from a proactive customer service standpoint, when you’re looking at moving the needle on patient experience, you’ve got to first put yourself in the shoes of the patient and realize that those patients are going to be different because they’re coming from different generational backgrounds and they’re going to have a different level of expectation.
So when we’re talking about what are a couple takeaways that the listener can go right now and put into and they can implement into their practice, the first is you’ve got to put yourself in the shoes of your patient. You have to understand that we all receive and retain that information differently. And our generational backgrounds are going to drive how we receive and retain that information. So I think the very first thing, first take away is to put yourself in the shoes of the patient. Do you have any takeaways?

Jennifer: I think another takeaway is make a patient feel valued. And when you put yourself into their shoes, you are then coming from a of understanding what they’re going through. I may not have experienced myself, but I do have an understanding of it. Let them know that they do have a value in that, you know what I mean? Make them reassured in certain things or give them more information than what they’re asking for that moment and they may not even know what to ask for. And that’s where you become a resource to them. So when you help them feel valued, you become a value to them.

Susan: I think that’s great advice. I think that’s great advice. And I think the final piece is, as soon as we operate in a bubble, we silo things out, now marketing your practice in general is not something that gets siloed out to marketing itself. Marketing is now a team sport and that the players on the team are your customer service players, your marketing players, your reputation management players, your patient engagement players, and it’s a team sport.
So you’ve got to make sure that everybody on your team is pointed in the same direction, working towards the same goal. And that goal is to improve the overall patient experience and that starts with understanding how the landscape of customer service has changed.

Jennifer: Well, I think that about wraps it up for today. Great conversation Sue. With that, I’m Jennifer.

Susan: I’m Susan.

Jennifer: We’ll see you next time on the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. Thanks a bunch.

Speaker 2: Thanks for listening to the drmarketingtips.com podcast. If there’s anything from today’s show you want to learn more about, checkout drmarketingtips.com for our podcast resource center with all the notes, links and goodies we mentioned during the show.
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