The pandemic has sparked intense changes in our day-to-day life and one of those changes has been the move toward more thoughtful customer service. This has been especially important for the healthcare sector. With the importance of customer service in healthcare increasing over time, customer service tests can help you improve your patients’ experience. 

Like many other industries in recent years, the healthcare sector faced digital transformation. Organizations switched to working online, with an increased need for new technologies that would ease this new way of working. And when it comes to the healthcare sector, going digital deeply changed its operations, culture, and relationship to technology.  

One part of this change was the increased importance of consumer-friendliness. Healthcare facilities have embraced digital capabilities to improve their relationship with patients. In search of ways to enhance patient experience, pre-employment customer service tests have been proven to help medical staff provide a better level of care.

The Importance of Customer Service in Healthcare

We've discussed the need for quality customer service roles and the cost of bad customer service in our previous articles. However, healthcare is considered to be different from other industries when it comes to providing customer experience. So, what makes the importance of customer service in healthcare stand out? You should consider medical staff as a special type of customer service representatives, with their daily goal being the improvement of the patients' quality of life.

Quality customer service is an important skill in the healthcare sector.

When providing customer service, healthcare professionals must consider the way they view their patients. They need to be regarded as individuals needing medical help and support, rather than just revenue opportunities. While patients will usually contribute to the bottom line, they are so much more than just positive cash flow. By simply creating long-term connections, rather than treating patients as a one-time transaction, hospitals can drastically improve their customer experience. Unfortunately, the quality of this experience has decreased in recent years, along with the amount of time allotted for each individual patient.

“A happy customer is a returning customer”, claims InsideSmallBusiness. Patients who are satisfied with their healthcare providers are more likely to recommend them to friends, family members, and coworkers. Doctor-patient relationships are some of the best examples of customer loyalty in any industry. And the reputation a healthcare provider sets for providing good customer service, directly affects patient satisfaction. If left unsatisfied, it's questionable if the patients will seek care in the same facility again in the future.

With overwhelmed hospitals, new methodologies for patient care have opened, which have created new ways of providing a quality customer experience. For example, virtual doctor appointments and telemedicine have become extremely popular. 91% of people surveyed in a recent PwC analysis have used video virtual clinical care at least once and plan to do so again.

What Does Bad Customer Service in Healthcare Look Like?

If a patient’s experience is consistently poor, it can be difficult for a healthcare provider to restore their reputation, despite the best marketing efforts.

Some common examples of poor customer service in hospitals are: 

  • Scheduling difficulties
  • Long wait times
  • Patients not being listened to
  • Lack of professionalism in simple patient interactions

Healthcare organizations that consistently provide poor patient experiences face serious consequences. Disrespecting patients and ignoring their problems are easy ways to provide horrible patient care. That’s why it’s important to know the level of customer service aptitude of your medical staff, as well as their ability to connect with their patients. One of the most effective methods to accomplish this is to screen applicants for these abilities, through pre-employment tests such as healthcare aptitude tests.

Patient Retention: A Safe Way To Stay Solvent

Patient retention is a crucial marker of success. It takes much more effort (and money) to acquire a new patient than to retain an existing one. A recent survey found that almost 89% of patients will stop visiting a practice after a poor service experience.

Forbes contributor Micah Solomon recognizes that patients' time is wasted on unnecessary delays in service. Solomon's advice is to take measures to prevent all possible delays, which applies to delivering lab results or scheduling appointments. In his article, Solomon also points out something very important - improving patient experience has a snowball effect. Not only does working on patient experience help build better relationships with clients, but it also increases the efficiency of the organization's practitioners and employees.

The universal basics of effective customer service apply to the healthcare industry too. Employees should maintain eye contact with patients, speak politely and professionally, and address criticism as genuinely and tactfully as possible. This is crucial regardless of whether or not the issue can be resolved quickly. Relying on technology for tasks as simple as appointment scheduling can create a better overall patient experience. This secures patient retention, and also improves the likelihood of referrals.

Healthcare staff with customer service skills improves patient retention.

How to Achieve Effective Consumer Relations in Healthcare?

The phrase "patient-centered healthcare" is often used in the healthcare industry. This is because, in recent years, patients have recognized the power of choice. By becoming more selective about their service and requiring more from their providers, patients are transforming the healthcare landscape.

This change emphasizes the importance of patient connections more than ever before. The focus has been shifted from simple data points, such as readmission rates. Instead, activities that promote healthcare service quality, like building strong relationships with patients, have become the central measure of patient happiness. In turn, this has been shown to improve other crucial metrics.

Patient satisfaction depends on having a good relationship with a healthcare provider, which should not come as a surprise. A survey reported that most patients want a deeper relationship with their doctor. Studies also show that treatment outcomes are better if the doctor-patient relationship is deeper. In fact, according to research by the Society for Participatory Medicine, 88% of American adults believe that working with their healthcare provider, as a valued partner, will benefit their overall health. 

Doctors share this belief too. Consumer Reports states that "the most significant thing a patient can do to seek better medical treatment is to create a long-term connection with a primary-care physician, with 76% saying it would help quite a lot."

It can never be overstated just how personal a doctor-patient relationship can be. For this relationship to work, and for quality care to be given, there must be mutual trust. The healthcare providers must trust the patient's honesty, and the patient must trust the staff enough to be open with them.

Pre-employment tests help determine if job candidates have the relevant skills.

Considering Customer Service Tests

Customers have set the bar high for what they expect from customer service and experience across all industries. Never before have service providers faced such intense pressure to get things right. If they fail, they suffer consequences such as damaged reputation, lost clients, negative social media attention, and more. In todays’ competitive environment, organizations must perform well and deliver the best possible customer service, just to stay in business. 

The healthcare industry is not immune from these trends. Far from it, there is a critical need for healthcare workers to be both experienced and customer-oriented, for the patients, first and foremost.  Unfortunately, job interviews and references alone can’t predict if medical staff members have these basic customer service skills prior to being hired. As a result of this challenge, healthcare providers should use tools to screen candidates for these necessary skills and abilities.

Pre-employment tests are efficient and reliable tools to help tackle the challenge of understanding your applicants’ abilities. These tests offer unbiased and objective metrics that employers can use to ensure the right candidates are being hired. EmployTest offers a wide mix of pre-employment tests to measure the skill sets of a candidate: healthcare aptitude tests, customer service aptitude tests, workplace success profile tests, and more. Contact us and try a free sample test today! 

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