The healthcare industry is in many ways both similar and different from other types of businesses. Healthcare-related businesses are different from others because they encounter patients in vulnerable moments, and aim to restore health and wellbeing. The very nature of healthcare means that we interact with patients during moments when they might be anxious, scared, unhappy, or afraid. As a result, medical offices can’t treat their patients in exactly the same way that other businesses interact with customers.
But there are also many similarities between the health industry and any other type of industry. At the end of the day, medical offices and practices are businesses that need to be profitable in order to remain open and working. As such, it’s easy to understand why medical businesses still need to be aware of their customer service, bottom line, profits, and customer satisfaction.
Customer retention and satisfaction
Research shows that increasing your customer retention from 86% to 89% can increase your office’s profits by more than $150,000. On the other hand, losing patients due to dissatisfaction could result in over $200,000 of income loss for your practice. There are many factors that can cause patient dissatisfaction, and figuring out where your practice’s weaknesses lie is the first step you need to take to improve your business’ performance.
Surprisingly, less than 15% of medical practices focus on improving their customer retention. As a result, 1 in every 8 patients leaves a medical practice each year, and 1 in 3 patients could potentially leave a practice in the future. The good news is that by learning how to improve patient satisfaction, you could retain your patients and attract new ones to increase your bottom line.
Patient satisfaction begins even before they ever visit your practice. From the moment a potential customer calls your office to make an inquiry or schedule an appointment, they’re inadvertently looking for signs that tell them whether they should trust you with their health.
Running a small practice can be hectic. In some cases, it can be easy for staff to be overwhelmed when your call flow increases, or when they have to deal with more tasks than they can handle. When this happens, you risk having patients’ calls go unanswered, or worse – their calls could be answered by grumpy, exhausted, unfriendly staff.
If the phone goes unanswered, potential customers could try to call again or leave a message. But in most cases, they’ll stop trying to contact your office after a few tries, preferring to seek out a different option instead. And if someone in your staff does pick up the phone but comes off as grumpy, stressed, and uninterested, the caller will probably have second thoughts about making an appointment.
How does overworked staff affect my bottom line?
If your staff is overworked, the bad news don’t stop there. Once a patient actually comes to your practice, unfriendly staff can turn their experience into a sour one. Even if a patient is satisfied by the medical care they receive at your office, their overall experience could be negative due to the way they’re treated by your staff. Nobody wants to visit a healthcare facility only to be welcomed by an exhausted, unhappy face. If this happened to you, would you like to return there the next time you needed medical care? Probably not.
Improving customer service and satisfaction in healthcare
You can increase your customer retention from the first moment a patient calls your office. One of the most effective ways to do this is by making sure that your phones are handled by professional staff that’s available 24/7 – even during holidays and emergencies. But how can you do this without breaking your budget?
The answer could lie in virtual answering services. By hiring one of these services and creating a virtual reception for your office, you’ll be ensuring that your patients’ calls are taken by friendly operators who’ll be available 24/7, 365 days of the year. At the same time, decreasing the workload for your on-site staff will allow them to focus entirely on their tasks without having to worry about ringing phones. A virtual answering service is also much more affordable than creating an on-site call center, and it doesn’t require training new staff.
Very soon, you’ll notice that your patients’ satisfaction increases, which will lead to a higher customer retention rate. Patients will leave your office feeling completely satisfied by the attention they received, and they’ll be far more likely to return to you when needed – additionally, they’ll create positive buzz around your medical practice, bringing new customers to your door!