Customer Listening: The Key to Better Patient Experiences!
Wednesday, July 17, 2019 9:00 AM
Editor’s Note: While the term “customers” is broad in scope, it is used throughout this post to encompass both existing and potential medical patients.
From left, Glenn Morley, Senior Consultant, and Martha Brooke, Customer Experience Analyst
When consulting with medical practices, we are often asked if the customer experience really matters. The answer? It does. In fact, it dramatically impacts perceptions of you and your business. More specifically, the customer experience affects conversion, clinical outcomes, reviews, attractiveness to investors, and ultimately, the success of your practice.
What exactly is the customer experience? It’s your associates’ ability to convey your doctors’ expertise, the look and feel of the waiting room, your billing staff’s ability to discuss fees, and hundreds of other details.
How do you impact the customer experience? It almost always starts with excellent customer listening. Read on to find out how you can put exemplary customer listening in place!
Customer Listening Methods
There are many methods for listening to your customers. The approach that works best for you will depend on your organizational goals. Here are a few of the approaches we find most useful.
Mystery Shopping: Your front desk associates impact how customers perceive you, so measure the quality of their customer service! Mystery shopping is one way to do just that. By simulating the experience of a real prospect or patient, you can find out how associates handle specific customer scenarios. High-quality mystery shopping gives you at least 12 key scores, national benchmarks, and an Overall Persuasion Score. Each metric is uniquely valuable and gives you a read on your front desk staff’s performance.
Patient Communication Evaluations: To understand how office personnel influence the patient experience, use an independent evaluator to shadow and record interactions between patients and all staff members. These in-person assessments hold a mirror up to every action made by staff. For example, an evaluator may note things like whether the doctor sits beside patients when speaking to them or if a technician asks for permission before entering the treatment room. The benefit of these patient communication evaluations is the insight they provide as to how you are perceived at various patient touchpoints, enabling you to identify and implement small — yet meaningful — adjustments to word choice, cadence, tone, timing, and so on.
Customer Service Evaluations: In this method, a random sampling of calls, emails, and chats is scored. This is one of the few approaches that gives you statistically valid results. Not only is statistical validity the gold standard of customer listening, it’s crucial if you are a large practice that produces an annual report or publishes facts about the customer experience on your website. Additionally, customer service evaluations show you how well staff supports your brand. You also get to learn every gap, friction point, and missed opportunity within your customer service. This type of hard data is an excellent tool for driving improvement.
Surveys: Get direct feedback from customers after their appointment by asking them to fill out a survey about their experience. To avoid survey fatigue and increase your response rate, make the questionnaire short. Ask 3-4 intriguing, probing questions that are open-ended and unbiased. For instance, “What are 1 or 2 things that come to mind about your experience with us?” allows for more open feedback than asking patients, “How satisfied were you with your experience?” (which implies they are at least somewhat satisfied). Open-ended questions are where you find areas to improve. It’s also a way to learn which of your staff members provide excellent customer service!
Objective Customer Listening is Essential
Objective customer listening is an essential part of managing, growing, and improving your practice’s customer experience. Today’s consumers demand compelling experiences. If you want to provide that, you must first examine and improve how customers feel about you at every touchpoint. What are you waiting for — start listening today!
YOUR TURN: What methods do you use to listen to your prospects and patients? We'd love to know. Please leave your response in the comment section below.
*Martha Brooke is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and holds a Blackbelt in Six Sigma. To dramatically improve the customer experience, Martha founded Interaction Metrics, a research-driven customer listening agency in 2004. Interaction Metrics uses customer feedback methods such as surveys and service evaluations to uncover clients' missed opportunities with customers — and show how to improve. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/marthabrooke