THERE IS NOTHING easy about delivering outstanding service. When you consider all the potential pitfalls, providing an exceptional experience can be a tall order, especially when patients are not always easy to please. So how do you get your staff on board with delivering excellent care and making every patient’s visit a memorable and positive experience? Ultimately, it takes planning and

Offering superior customer service is something that can always be improved. If you don’t do so already, make customer service and patient satisfaction a part of staff meetings. Every employee plays a role in building a relationship and creating a patient experience that can increase satisfaction and loyalty.

I remind my staff frequently that when they are in the office, they are “on stage.” Every patient can overhear what we are saying to other patients or co-workers. Patients in the reception area have a front row seat to all the action taking place around them. The poorly handled phone call, the patient questioning a charge, and the contact lens order that still hasn’t arrived are some examples. There are many places where you can drop the ball and not be providing perfect patient service.

People understand that mistakes are made and some are more forgiving than others. One key thing to remember is how well mistakes are handled and how the problem can be rectified to the patient’s satisfaction. If the doctor forgets to order a contact lens for a patient, it’s a staff member who will receive a call from the patient curious about the lenses’ whereabouts. Your staff has to be quick on their feet to problem-solve and fix a small problem so it doesn’t grow into a larger one.

As an owner and a boss, you have to “right the ship” when things go wrong. But remember to do so with tact. One of the worst things to do is to correct a staff member in front of a patient. It’s a quick way to spoil the doctor-staff member relationship. And remember to praise employees, right there on the spot or immediately upon finding out about the event.

Constant negative feedback will lead to disgruntled employees and the feeling that you’re always on the lookout for what they are doing wrong (and missing when they perform well). There has to be a balance between praise and correcting mistakes. Staff members don’t want to work for someone who is spineless either and won’t stand by them when they do the right thing and a patient is wrong. Remember, you’re on stage too and it can take a bit of ad libbing to please patients.

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