healthcare

Who Loves Ya, Baby? - 2/25/20


Telly Savalas played Kojak - a hard-nosed detective who solved crimes while eating a lollipop.  He was a tough guy with a tough attitude but a soft side.  He used to say:  Who loves ya, baby? So, who loves their customer? If you want to see somebody who loves their Read more

6 Actions for Attitude Adjustments - 2/18/20


The battle over one’s attitude can feel like a never-ending fight… I need to stop letting little things bother me. I need to not let that customer’s anger infect my mindset.  Just because my co-worker isn’t doing what they said they’d do shouldn’t mean that I should have an attitude Read more

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

The Healthcare Customer Service Runaround – 8/19/14 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


The following is a true story of a customer service runaround…

  1. Nate’s physician suggested that he have a diagnostic procedure.
  2. The hospital called Nate to schedule the procedure; they suggested he get the CPT code (procedure number) since Nate wanted to get an estimate of the procedure charges.
  3. He called his physician office and got the CPT code.
  4. At the direction of the physician office, he called another office (in another town) for an estimate. He okayed the procedure based on the estimate being somewhat reasonable.
  5. Nate had the procedure and received results – all were good!
  6. He received the bill – 60% above the estimate.
  7. He called Billing and talked with Kristin. She said that they billed correctly, but Nate was only given 1 of the 2 CPT codes and was told the wrong estimated price; Kristin told him to talk to the insurance company and have them possibly appeal to the office (which was part of the same company as Billing, which was also the same company as the scheduler, which was also the same company as the estimator).
  8. Insurance said that they may be able to do something if the physician office said that the procedure wasn’t warranted.
  9. The insurance company called the physician office for Nate and left a message at the physician office.
  10. The office called Nate and said the procedure in question was ordered correctly, but they were adamant that they don’t give out CPTs – so they couldn’t help with his issue; they suggested that Nate call Scheduling – maybe they give out CPT codes.
  11. Nate called Scheduling; they said that they don’t give out CPTs; they suggested he call the Estimate department.
  12. Nate called the Estimate department; they said they don’t give out CPTs, but the supervisor would call him the next day because she may have access to information that the front line employee couldn’t access.
  13. Nate called a week later after having received no call back, and he left a message.
  14. The Estimate department called back and said to call Billing.
  15. Nate called Billing, and the lady he spoke with sounded familiar – she was Kristin. She said the physician office wasn’t telling the truth when they said they don’t give out CPTs.

One procedure and fifteen communications. There was no resolution, no ownership, and no accountability. Most of the conversations were with one company and four different departments/offices, but they operated as if they were four separate companies.

In most of the conversations, the individual employees were personable and somewhat helpful – they probably received good evaluations for their actions during the call. But from Nate’s perspective, this was a royal mess.

Don’t assume that one pleasant conversation equates to one happy customer. Ensure the company isn’t giving the customer service runaround.

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I’m Big on the “Same Page” – 7/1/14 TOW

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Let’s get on the Same Page. How do you get everyone on the Same Page, going in the same direction? Before we move forward, let’s make sure we’re on the Same Page. You need to ensure you’re on the Same Page with your customer before you end the call.

I seem to find myself using the phrase “Same Page” over and over again. I’ll use it in training, when providing strategic guidance on culture change, in meetings with my clients, and in one-on-one discussions with staff.

The phrase comes out of my mouth so often because it applies to so much in service interactions and service cultures. In healthcare, you often have to communicate with patients about next steps. What must the patient do to care for themselves at home post-discharge? Who must they contact to talk about billing and insurance? Where should they go, and how should they prepare for an upcoming procedure? Getting on the “Same Page” means that you and that patient have a common understanding of what needs to happen next and when.

Many local governments are trying to change their cultures to be more flexible, more customer service-oriented, more high-tech while maintaining high-touch. So their employees may have to change behaviors and mindsets; they have to understand their greater purpose beyond the policies and procedures, and beyond the codes and ordinances. The leaders must get everybody on the “Same Page” about the reason government exists and the important role that customer service plays in serving the community.

In one-on-one personal conversations, the phrase “Same Page” suggests that all parties understand the situation, the goals, the next steps, and timeframes. This leads to well-understood expectations, work more likely done right the first time, and clearer communications.

In more strategic discussions, the phrase “Same Page” suggests that everyone in the organization understands what they’re here to do, and everyone understands their role in moving toward objectives, goals, and vision.

Communicate more clearly with others. Ensure that conversations don’t end before you’re on the Same Page.


Develop an “Always Culture” – 2/18/14 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week 1 Comment


Many of our healthcare clients are adopting the concept of creating an “Always Culture.” This movement is often in response to a change in Federal Government reimbursement to hospitals that is based in part on the results of patient satisfaction surveys. Those surveys are structured to have patients evaluate whether staff, nurses, and physicians “Always” do certain activities (as opposed to “Usually, Sometimes, or Never”). To maximize reimbursement, the healthcare organization wants a high percentage of their patients answering “Always.”

Now the concept of the “Always Culture” has been around for years, in and out of healthcare. The way we’ve described it is that you don’t want customer service to be a light switch (where you turn it on with clients and turn it off with co-workers); instead, it needs to be an all-the-time thing.

But regardless of what industries use the phrase, it’s still a meaningful concept.

The idea of “Always” implies that we’re CONSISTENT (hopefully Consistent Excellent) across departments, shifts, product lines, and people. That consistency requires that the organization hires those individuals with the propensity to be customer service-oriented, sets expectations of what is a great customer experience, trains ALL staff on the key principles and techniques, monitors performance in ALL areas, and rewards not only the “WOW” but also the Consistent Excellence. It requires that we hold those accountable that keep us from Consistent Excellence, and that we have leaders that understand that they must model the practices they expect of others.

Organizations striving for the Always Culture must continuously communicate the expectations, the goals, and the performance – celebrating success whenever possible.

But – in the end – “Always” comes down to the individual. Is it a habit to serve, a habit to care, a habit to be inquisitive, and a habit to be empathetic? Is it a habit to be responsive, a habit to proactively communicate, a habit to quickly resolve issues, and a habit to appreciate others?

Create your own “Always Culture.” Make excellence a habit.