We regularly hear about clinics with ‘top notch’ customer service, but what exactly does that mean? Companies which perform well on that metric tend to have an integrated, holistic approach to customer care. It’s part of the culture, not just a set of skills which can be taught.
However, below we’ve tried to identify the keystone skills which can help every person in every type of clinic be a customer service whizz.
Respect: Respect stems from the idea that you treat others the way you would like to be treated. If you had a problem, you wouldn’t want to be dismissed or ignored. The same goes for the person who has come to you with an issue to resolve. Regardless of the attitude of your patient, good customer service skills dictate that you be respectful at all times. Here are some simple ways that you can show respect:
- Use their name
- Don’t interrupt
- Look at them while they’re speaking
- Wait until they’re finished before offering a response
Patience: Patients with problems are going to want to talk. They’re going to want to explain every last detail to you. An employee with good customer service skills will wait patiently and let the customer talk until they’re finished. This helps the customer feel like they’re being heard and can go a long way toward making the situation better. One way to cultivate patience is to remember that, most of the time, the patient is not upset with you personally.
Self control: We’d like all our customer experiences to be calm and to be able to communicate in a rational way. However, occasionally, we’ve all encountered an employee who lets their emotions get the better of them, resulting in raised voices and harsh words. It’s these situations that demand strong self-control. By staying calm, you allow the customer to vent his or her frustration without creating an antagonistic situation that could get even more heated. Keep in mind that the customer may just want to be heard, and this is the only way they know to make that happen. Let the patient have their say and then work to resolve the issue. An effective way to maintain self-control during a confrontation is to take a few deep breaths and count to ten before responding.
Empathy: This is the ability to sense and understand the emotions of others. It’s essentially putting yourself in the emotional shoes of the customer. Many will argue that empathy is the most important customer service skill of all. True, it is an important piece of the puzzle, but it’s only one skill among many that make good customer service possible. To practice empathy, try to feel what the customer is feeling, then think about how you can make those bad feelings go away. It takes a bit of effort, but everyone can be empathetic if they really try.
Showing concern: Good customer service skills include being concerned about the well-being of the customer, regardless of the problem he or she is having. Concern for the customer goes back to being concerned for the reputation and success of the business itself. If an employee isn’t concerned with the success of the business, they are not going to be concerned about the happiness of the customer.
Effective listening: This is about more than just hearing what the customer has to say. Effective listening involves understanding both what is being said and what is left unsaid. Often, it is what is unsaid that is more important than what is said. Not being able to discern between these two things can cause communication to break down and lead to customer frustration and dissatisfaction.
Responsibility: Above all else, customers want someone to take responsibility for their problem. Even if it has nothing to do with you, take it upon yourself to get involved. Reassure the patient that you will stay with this problem until it has been resolved. That removes the burden from the shoulders of the customer and makes them feel like they’re moving toward a resolution.
Positive attitude: You’d be surprised how far maintaining a positive attitude can go toward solving customer problems. Staying positive under pressure, often in the face of antagonism and negative emotions, can have a calming effect on the entire situation. When you stay positive, you can influence the angry customer to calm down and take a better view of things. That makes finding a solution so much easier.
With some information from Sling and around the web.