Your front desk staff pulls a lot of weight when it comes to your medical practice’s customer satisfaction. They’re the first people your patients speak to when they call and the first faces your patients see when they walk through your doors. Unfortunately, they’re also often the reason patients leave your practice. In fact, a recent study published in a 2016 issue of the Journal of Medical Practice Management revealed, after reviewing approximately 35,000 doctors nationwide, that a whopping 96 percent of patient complaints are a result of customer service, and only 4 percent are due to patient care. So make sure you’re providing proper customer service training to your staff!
Here are five training tips you can implement to boost your front-desk staff’s customer service satisfaction scores:
1. Put patients first! Train your front-desk staff to immediately greet patients who walk in the front door, even if they’re in the middle of something. A simple “Hi, I’ll be right with you” is sufficient if they’re busy helping another patient. This lets the incoming patient know you’re aware of his/her presence. Also, a friendly tone and helpful attitude on the phone will go a long way in making patients feel like you want to help them and they aren’t inconveniencing you.
2. Document your expectations. While it’s great if you have a shining-star front-desk staff member who’s always on top of things, ultra-friendly and loved by all, it won’t do you much good to have a few others who play by their own rules. Your medical practice should hold the front-desk staff to a consistent set of expectations. Document what you expect, and have new employees train from that manual.
3. Make HIPAA a top priority. Upholding patient privacy isn’t just a matter of common courtesy; it’s a legal issue with a hefty fine if violated. To train your front-desk staff on HIPAA regulations, mandate that they re-read the regulations periodically. Regularly discuss ways you can improve your practice’s implementation of these regulations. Have employees do role play to practice proper HIPPA compliance and then constructively critique one another. Your medical practice’s reputation and bottom line are at stake!
4. Diffuse angry patients. Your front-desk staff should be especially well-versed in what to do with angry patients. While your employees don’t deserve to be treated poorly, a first line of defense should be to understand and empathize with the patient. Keep in mind the patient could be in a lot of pain that can change how he/she behaves. Sometimes letting a patient win an argument or just vent can diffuse a tense situation, but let your staff members know they have your support if the situation becomes threatening, and be sure to have a procedure in place if it becomes dangerous.
5. Implement time management strategies. Your front-desk staff answers phones, checks in (and out) patients, books appointments and processes paperwork, just to name a few tasks. Make sure that they have the information they need and the appropriate amount of time to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. For example, they should know how long each type of appointment takes and how to schedule around emergencies so they can book accordingly and minimize patient wait times. Re-evaluate and/or re-distribute workloads if they appear overloaded, stressed or unable to keep up with all their tasks. Remember, your front-desk staff’s top priority is to promote a positive image for your practice.
Knowing how your staff should behave is one thing, but implementing this training is often a challenge. Let Practice Builders train your staff for you with our Customer Excellence Training so you can be confident that your front-desk staff is the best it can possibly be! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.679.1262 to sign up for a free marketing consult.