Hospitals and Customer Service

Every now and then I will read a story about customer service at hospitals. Sometimes it is a really good story about a hospital’s customer service and other times it is a horror story.

If you think about it, hospitals should have customer service down. It is really important for hospitals to have great customer service because of the nature of their work. If they mis-communicate something, it could be the difference between life and death, not $10 or something.

Doctors are judged (informally) by their bedside manner. It is by how nice they are, how they can work with you, and how they communicate. It is all about etiquette, but it is so important. A doctor with a good beside manner can make a difference.

Union Square Cafe looks for what they call 51 percenters. 51% attitude and 49% technical accuracy. While I think I’d want more technical accuracy in a doctor (as opposed to a waiter), the concept is important. Doctors who don’t have a good beside manner won’t help you feel any more comfortable with what are you having done.

The hospital as a whole can do things to improve customer service. Many of them improve waiting rooms, try to hire nicer staff, and improve things like food, lighting, etc. These can help make the whole hospital experience a better one.

Hospitals usually have terrible first impressions. The reason you are going there is seldom a good one or one that you look forward to. That leaves a bad taste in the customer’s (patient’s) mouth, but it can be improved. A nice waiting room, a friendly staff, things to do to help distract you, and so on can make the experience so much better.

The same concepts apply to regular doctor’s offices too. Reducing wait times and improving wait rooms, better staff, and so on can all make a big difference. In other companies, these are almost expected, but doctors seem to be somewhat exempt. So, they have a great opportunity to set themselves apart and improve.

Have you had any notable (good or bad) customer service experiences at doctor’s offices or hospitals?