From receiving an unexpected lab result to answering questions about their personal health history, many people dread talking to their healthcare provider. Healthcare customer service training is key to bringing compassionate and skilled customer service to every person your employees interact with in order to make your patients feel more at ease every step of the way. Here's how to roll out customer service in healthcare training.
What does customer service mean in healthcare?
Customer service is loosely defined as any interaction between a company representative and the customer. This could be as remote as a chatbot and as close as a stethoscope between doctor and patient in an office visit.
From urgent care centers to clinics at the back of drugstores, customers have more choice in their healthcare providers. Customers are looking for more than talented doctors (although that is still important). They want a positive experience from the moment of their first contact with your office. Even in something as simple as responding to a comment on your Facebook page customers want to feel like you respect them and will treat them with care.
Healthcare customer service might include the following:
- Setting up appointments via phone, text, or email
- Following up with test results
- Answering questions about procedures (medical and office)
- Handling forms (insurance and compliance documents)
- Account and billing questions
Customer service training doesn't just benefit patients. Employees who feel capable and confident in their ability to respond to clients experience less frustration and are more inclined to stay in their jobs. Cycling through employees because they don’t feel supported in their training can get expensive, fast.
Customer service in healthcare training capitalizes on employee strengths and offers them tools to remedy any areas of weakness. This makes both employees and the patients they serve feel valued and important.
How to improve your healthcare customer service training
If you aren’t sure which customer service training ideas for healthcare to implement first (or even how to get started!), here are seven ideas to improve your healthcare customer service training:
- Conduct a training needs analysis
- Start thinking of patients as customers
- Watch how employees interact with patients
- Ask patients for feedback
- Allocate resources
- Roll out healthcare customer service training activities
- Protect patients, first
1. Conduct a training needs analysis
Any healthcare customer service training activities should start with a training needs analysis. This establishes goals for your learning program and identifies where the gaps in skill levels and abilities lie.
Set goals and objectives for your training now, too. Once this is completed, you can then identify which training tools you have that will work to meet your organizational goals, and what you’ll need to create or locate.
2. Start thinking of patients as customers
This step is not too challenging, given the multiplicity of healthcare options these days. Maybe the head of your practice is highly skilled and decorated, but if the office staff is condescending or forgetful, all the skill in the world won’t keep patients there. Imagine each patient is a family member (that you like!). How would that change the way you treat them?
Alternately, keep in mind that patients can go pretty much anywhere they want for healthcare. Make them want to choose your team.
3. Watch how employees interact with patients
Many employees will struggle with this step, thinking of it as an evaluation of their work (which, it is to a certain extent). The major goal of the observation, though, is to establish how the office is doing in terms of customer service. Are they courteous, at a minimum? And going deeper, can they answer patient questions, or do they know what to do when they can’t?
If the answer to the second question is “no,” this is valuable information to design healthcare customer service training activities that make an immediate difference for employees and patients alike.
4. Ask patients for feedback
The good, the bad, and the ugly. No one wants a bad review posted, but giving patients the chance to air their grievances (or sing your praises) can give you valuable data in terms of organizational goal-setting. If patients are struggling to make appointments because they are not getting timely responses, this might be a good place to start.
Offer patients surveys as they leave your office or give them a chance to respond via email. This is not soliciting a review but fact-finding for training purposes only.
5. Allocate resources
Don’t just design a learning course and expect your staff to slot it in on their own time and/or at their own expense. If it matters to you, reduce friction and motivate employees by giving them the proper amount of time, incentives, and resources (material and otherwise) for the training to be effective.
Not allocating the proper resources to complete the training is like taking three days to bake a $500 wedding cake and then transporting it to the reception on a rickety bicycle. Someone is going to end up very unhappy.
6. Roll out healthcare customer service training activities
Customer service in healthcare training activities can be tailored to your organizational goals and objectives, but deliver the activities in the best format.
For example, if your staff needs more experience dealing with upset patients, you might consider online role-playing to address customer concerns. Gamified modules that lead staff through a challenge that changes based on their response can mimic the real-life stresses of a scared patient standing in front of them.
7. Protect patients, first
Healthcare customer service training also has to include ways to protect patients from invasions to their privacy. For things like HIPAA compliance, eLearning is a great way to deliver bits of information to your staff, including reminders about protecting patient information and any changes to regulations.
Cybersecurity training courses also addresses ways to protect patients, their information, and the people who handle it. All of the customer service training ideas for healthcare won’t matter a whit if your entire roster of patients has their identities stolen and employees do not know the procedure for remedying the breach.
At EdgePoint Learning, we want to help you keep your patients (and your team!) happy. If you need help bringing your healthcare customer service training into the 21st century, get in touch today. We can help.