hospitals | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

There’s Positivity in Patience - 5/28/24


The employee at the financial services firm was working with a new client on a relatively simple loan.  The documentation was about as clear as it could get to the employee, but the customer had lots of questions.  The employee calmly, clearly, and specifically answered each question.  The meeting Read more

The Goal – A Great Experience - 5/21/24


The following is a narrative of a great experience (people, process, service, facility) at a minor league sporting event – key points that could apply to any business are in bold… Mark and I pulled into the parking lot, excited about the game.  The Slapshots had been on a roll Read more

Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24


I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the Read more

A Complaint is a Gift - 5/7/24


A complaint is a gift.  Okay, so the complainer is not always a “gift.”  The customer’s delivery of the complaint is sometimes more like a stocking filled with coal than a vase filled with roses.  But this is why we need to be able to differentiate the complaint from Read more

Mastering Confidence in Customer Service - 4/30/24


It’s not what you said…it’s how you said it. If you’ve ever had someone say this to you, raise your hand.  (I just raised my hand) Usually this is being said when someone is upset with you, but regardless of the reason, that phrase illustrates that HOW we say something often Read more

Be Amazing - 4/23/24


Watching Michael Jordan steal a pass and then dunk a basketball is amazing.  Taking a rocket to the moon is amazing.  The taste of my mom’s homemade beef soup is amazing. We all have our personal examples of what is amazing.  Usually, it’s something that we cannot comprehend, that we Read more

Talk About Yourself to Build Customer Confidence - 4/16/24


When you’re dealing with somebody who is anxious or nervous about a situation, a customer who feels like they don’t have much control, an individual who is unsure and uncertain, it’s important to put the customer at ease.  It’s important to build their comfort level.  It’s important to help Read more

The Proven Value in What You Do - 4/9/24


Forbes wrote an article last year based on a compilation of the results of research on customer service and the customer experience; it was titled:  100 Customer Experience Stats For 2023. In reading the article, you’ll note that many of these key research findings are about you – the value Read more

A Tale of Two Texts - 4/2/24


Having to get allergy shots once a week is never fun, and for Janet, it became an even bigger frustration. She had the shots typically scheduled on Tuesday around 10:30 in the morning, figuring she would avoid the morning rush as well as the lunch rush by going mid-morning.  However, Read more

The Secret Sauce for Great Customer Service - 3/26/24


I was working with the League Office for a major American sport several years back, and one of the executives asked me to describe our Secret Sauce that helped our clients improve the fan experience and customer retention.  I gave him a sense of what makes us unique and Read more

Customer Service Lessons from the E.R. – 11/7/23

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

Every industry is interesting in its own way, and healthcare is definitely no exception.  We’ve done many different types of studies and projects in the emergency rooms at hospitals, and it’s interesting to look back at some of the results of focus groups we conducted with the E.R. patients.

We asked about their experience, everything from the admission through triage, care they received all the way through the discharge and billing.  For this Tip of the Week, so that it applies to everyone reading, let’s focus on some of the ways that patients evaluated employees:

Talk On My Level: When the staff and physicians would speak with the patients “on their level” and were not condescending, that was greatly appreciated.  Patients liked when a nurse talked with a child in terms they could understand and in an appropriate manner, or they spoke more slowly and clearly with a senior.

Don’t Judge Me: Patients were concerned about being judged by the staff – where patients were unsure if they truly needed emergency care or they didn’t want to be perceived as being there unnecessarily.  When staff conveyed that patients were there for a reason (they made a good decision to go to the E.R.), that was positive.  With one participant, a physician directly doubted/argued the need for the patient to be in the E.R., and this left a highly negative impression.

Convey You Care: Staff and physicians were generally perceived positively if they conveyed they cared about the patient.  The way patients felt that the personnel cared was when service was quick, personnel asked questions, patients weren’t rushed, and the staff and physicians showed empathy.

Think about these takeaways when considering how your customers view you. Do you speak in a way appropriate for that particular customer, making communications clear but not condescending?  Do you avoid judging the other person and arguing about their request?  Do you try to provide service quickly, ask questions, avoid rushing the other person, and convey a little empathy?

If so, they’ll likely appreciate you more.  They’ll feel respected, and are much more likely to respect you, in turn.

Talk on the customer’s level, avoid judging, and convey you care.

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Patient Experience Pros Don’t Have Unlimited Resources, Therefore…

Posted on in Business Advice, Healthcare Please leave a comment

Blog 10-8-14The healthcare industry is seemingly struggling to come up with a common and manageable definition for the “Patient Experience.” Maybe it’s because “experience” is such a broad term just like terms such as “feeling, perception, opinion” – which are often the words used to evaluate the Patient Experience. As an example, when the article Hospitals Focus On Patient Experience Through Design addresses Patient Experience, virtually the sole focus of the experience is the facility – the layout, the furnishings, the look/feel of the physical surroundings.

Therefore, Patient Experience could reference a facility, an employee, a phone call, or a website. It could reference a process, a wait time, other patients, communications, quality of care, cleanliness, food quality, or noise. It’s just too much to consider in terms of the multitude of definitions and aspects of an encounter or relationship that the patient has with the provider.

Patient Experience professionals don’t have unlimited time or resources. They can’t redesign a facility, turn all employees into Disney cast members, and get processes working like a Toyota assembly line to create the optimal Patient Experience. Instead, to make Patient Experience management…well…manageable, ask yourself this one question:

How do we focus “Patient Experience” efforts on that which has maximum impact on the patient’s feelings, perceptions, and opinions?

I’m going back to those 3 words – feelings/perceptions/opinions – because patients make the decision about whether to return if needed or seek care elsewhere based on feelings/perceptions/opinions. The answer to that question helps you to determine what impacts the patient’s willingness to recommend your organization to others. The answer to that question results in your understanding what can make a patient decide to give you the positive or negative rating. And the answer to that question helps you to better understand how they decide to be compliant with their self-care or post-discharge instructions. They decide all of these points based on their feelings/perceptions/opinions.

Through research, you can determine – statistically – what aspects of the experience have the greatest bearing on willingness to return, willingness to recommend, ratings, and compliance. By asking patients what impacts their feelings/perceptions/opinions, you allow them to guide you toward what would move their experience from good to GREAT! Don’t view your role as a Patient Experience professional as one that requires you to fix all the people, process, and facility ills in the healthcare world.

Let the Voice of the Patient guide your plans and priorities.

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The “Patient Engagement” Conundrum

Posted on in Business Advice, Healthcare Please leave a comment

Blog 8-27-14

One of the latest healthcare buzzwords is “Engagement,” as in “Patient Engagement.” Unlike patient satisfaction, clinical care, customer service, and other service-oriented terms, Patient Engagement is a little more nebulous to the average healthcare consumer.

However, the term’s definition is abundantly clear to most healthcare institutions. In the article Patient engagement creates Stage 2 challenges for providers, Patient Engagement requires that “5% of patients be engaged in their care through an online portal or electronic medical record. Hospitals that don’t achieve 90 consecutive days of meaningful use at Stage 2 during the 2014 fiscal year will be penalized financially. They must do this to continue receiving their incentive payments and avoid losing 1% of future Medicare reimbursements.​” Ouch!

Essentially the Federal Government has narrowly defined Patient Engagement as getting consumers to sign-in to a system with their electronic medical information. There are many reasons given why this is so difficult, and many suggestions followed: “Updating organizational policies addressing patient EMR access (particularly looking at gaps in the system); continuously educating patients and providers of their roles related to the engagement; making sure information is robust, including more than just appointment dates and lab results; staying current with standard development that supports consumer engagement; and eliminating patient fees for electronic health information.”

But much of this is missing one key point. The culture of America, in particular, revolves around the fact that we don’t have to directly pay for a significant portion of our healthcare. Sure, we pay premiums and pay taxes, but it’s not like paying cash for a car – where you either keep the $20,000 in your bank account or write a check today for $20,000. Many Americans pay virtually nothing out of pocket for a visit or procedure, and the others spend the vast majority of their healthcare expenses on premiums. We’re a culture that’s focused on requesting the best procedure and expecting physicians, hospitals, and other institutions to deliver the best care. Whether that happens or not is another debate, but that’s the current state of the culture.

Until this culture changes, Patient Engagement – as it’s defined by the government – will continue to be a challenge. I have had 2 medical procedures lately, and it was like pulling teeth (healthcare pun intended) to determine my out-of-pocket costs before the procedure. Even then, they were only rough estimates. There was no proactive sharing of that information on the part of the healthcare providers, so it was all on the customer to determine the cost and make an informed decision.

Also, I was asked to create a log-in to my EMR last year, but I was just given a copy of a detailed form with instructions; there was no incentive, no promotion – just “here’s the form if you want to login.” To change a culture, the provider has to share what’s in it for the patient to do something different, to begin changing behaviors.

For Patient Engagement to truly succeed, the culture has to change.

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