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Why hospitals need to practice good customer service

Medical providers have a lot of competition these days. Gone are the days of one hospital for one city. And hospitals aren’t just competing against one another; in some case, they also have to contend with immediate care centers and sometimes even the clinics that have popped up inside grocery stores and pharmacies. If hospitals want to remain the immediate first choice for patients in need of care — and rely on those patients’ repeat business — they need to practice good customer experience management like any other business.

People have a choice today of where they go for care. In some cases, doctors will prefer a specific hospital — such as obstetricians performing deliveries — which will take some of the choice out of a patient’s hands, but even in those cases, customers can demand a certain hospital if they’re truly adamant.

Many hospitals market themselves as the leader in a certain area, whether that’s cancer care, neurosurgery or delivering babies, but if they’re not delivering great customer service when patients are lying in their beds and in the biggest need of good, solid care, people will question their competency on all levels — no matter how good the doctors or how state-of-the art their technology.

The bigger a hospital is, the more opportunities there are for a disconnect among departments. How will word get back to the larger management of the hospital if there’s an issue with accounts receivable, or the X-ray lab, the nurses station? How will the marketing and advertising department know that their ads aren’t having the desired effect?

Customers will weight ER wait times, treatment once they’re on site, the quality of the rooms and equipment, and the bedside manner of the doctors that treat them (among many other things) when they’re choosing the place they’ll receive care. There’s always the risk, of course, of a patient in the hospital with something to complain about who says nothing for fear that it will affect the level of care she receives.

Situations like this make hospitals a great candidate for mystery shopping; proactively seeking out feedback from trained shopper “patients” will increase the chances that a hospital can improve before a real patient chooses to go elsewhere for their care!