Service Excellence - Archives

10 Tips for Training Staff on Service Recovery

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The key to successful service recovery lies in creating an environment where employees feel prepared and empowered to handle whatever comes their way. Only when employees feel prepared and empowered will they be able to view a complaint as a true gift. The following are 10 tips for training staff on service recovery.... Continue Reading...

5 Ways to Cement Service Mindedness throughout Your Organization

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The Baird team is frequently asked to consult with hospitals and systems that want to improve their HCAHPS scores. The first thing we evaluate is whether or not the focus is on the scores or the experience behind the scores. Exceptional patient experiences are not the result of a one-time training event or award ceremony. To be sustainable, great scores require ongoing communication, coaching, modeling, monitoring, and reinforcement. Following are 5 ways to cement service mindedness throughout your organization.... Continue Reading...

5+ Secrets for Powerful Phone Connections With Patients (and Prospective Patients)

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Where do the vast majority of your patients and potential patients interact with you? Not in person. Not via email. By phone. That’s right; the telephone remains one of the most significant contact points in healthcare. Unfortunately, while significant, it is often overlooked as a crucial part of the patient experience. Continue Reading...

Are Disengaged Employees Sucking the Life Out of You?

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According to 2013 research by AonHewitt, while employee engagement levels are beginning to show some slight signs of improvement globally, only 4 out of 10 employees report that they are engaged—40 percent are “passive or actively disengaged,” a number that has been relatively consistent since 2011. Why should you care? Continue Reading...

Are You Overlooking the Impact Your Volunteers Have on the Patient Experience?

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Not that long ago, I walked into a hospital and approached the Information Desk. There were three people sitting behind the counter allegedly there to provide information and direct guests. I eyed them up quickly to determine which one to approach. It wasn’t a tough decision. Continue Reading...

Four Critical Steps to Picking Yourself Up When You Fall Short

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Imagine passing a young mother as she storms out of a busy emergency department. She’s speaking loudly and angrily into her cell phone, with an obviously cranky, uncomfortable toddler in tow. The hospital staff members within earshot simply look at each other and shrug. After all, they’re swamped with work; what can they do about this one woman’s situation? It turns out that there is a lot that healthcare workers can do in these circumstances to correct the situation and keep that patient coming back happily, along with her entire family. Continue Reading...

Four Secrets to Making Service Training Stick

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Providing an exceptional patient experience is at the top of most healthcare leaders’ “to do” list these days and for many good reasons. First, caring for patients is what drew most of us into the profession. Second, it’s simply the right thing to do. Finally, HCAHPS and Value Based Purchasing (VBP) have added financial accountability to the mix. If we can’t provide solid service and positive outcomes, our reimbursement will be effected. Continue Reading...

Getting Physicians on Board With Service: Five steps to building buy-in

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You’ve completed the staff training for customer service. The managers are fully on board. You’ve established the standards and clarified everyone’s accountability for results. There are action plans in place with measurable results. It’s beginning to feel like all the pistons are firing in synch...and then comes the zinger: another person asks the critical question, “So, what about the doctors? When are they going to start living customer service?” Continue Reading...

Intentional Culture

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“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there,” is an often-repeated quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Paraphrased, it simply means that without goals and a plan, you could end up wandering aimlessly. It makes a compelling case for planning. Continue Reading...

Is Good the Enemy of Great at Your Organization

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Jim Collins is credited with the inspirational quote “good is the enemy of great.” What this statement means is that, for many organizations, they’ve unwittingly slipped into a mindset where good is good enough. They’re doing “just fine” and, therefore, there’s no need to aspire to the next level—to become “great... Continue Reading...

Is Your Management Style Killing the Service Spirit?

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It can take months, even years, to establish a solid culture of service excellence yet only one unfortunate misstep to destroy the results of all that hard work. Unfortunately, too often healthcare leaders are inadvertently hampering their own efforts to create a strong service-oriented environment. We see examples of this far too frequently. For instance... Continue Reading...

It's Not a Holiday for Everyone

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In healthcare environments, there’s a bit of a yin and yang to the holiday experience. Staff, and even clinicians can be particularly jovial this time of year, which is generally a good thing, but patients who find themselves ill, or hospitalized, over the holidays may not always appreciate that joviality. Continue Reading...

Making Your Customer Service Job Descriptions Fit Everyone: Senior leaders, managers, and staff

When I ask groups of healthcare workers, "Who is responsible for customer service?," I really expect everyone from the CEO to the newest housekeeper to raise their hands. While "customer service" needs to be part of everyone's job description, it is important to define what each person's role looks like from the perspective of rank and title. Not everyone's duties are the same. In fact, one might say that the higher the pay grade, the broader the service responsibilities. It can be easier to identify the service behaviors related to standards than it is to recognize the service competencies required of leaders at the top and middle management levels. Continue Reading...

Mission Critical: E + E = Service+

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The importance of superior customer service in carrying out your organizational mission should be clear to all employees. However, sometimes the employees who work most closely with the greatest number of customers can lose sight of that essential connection in their daily work. To foster that critical connection, employ a simple formula in which E (ducation) plus E(ngagement) adds up to a successful mission. Continue Reading...

Planning without Execution Is Just Wasted Effort

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You’ve likely heard this statement before: “When you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” The reason aphorisms like this stay around and resonate is because it’s true! When you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Here’s an example. Continue Reading...

Service Excellence: The Power of (Every) One!

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It’s not uncommon for me to be on site talking with healthcare leaders about culture and the challenges they have with creating and sustaining a positive patient experience culture. During these conversations, at least one leader will inevitably say something like: “I don’t understand it, we’ve done training. We’ve emphasized the importance of service. We’ve provided employees with guidelines and tools.” Continue Reading...

Service Recovery: 5 steps for making things right

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We’ve all had bad customer service experiences at hotels, restaurants, airports, and, yes, even healthcare organizations. But the real test of service excellence comes when a bad experience is swiftly and honestly addressed and turned around. When a customer complains, you have a brief window of opportunity to make or break all chances for satisfactory resolution and, ultimately, loyalty. What does it take for true service recovery? When a customer complains, you have a brief window of opportunity to make or break all chances for satisfactory resolution and ultimately loyalty. What does it take for true service recovery? The fundamentals are fairly simple yet the most common challenges are threefold.... Continue Reading...

Silence Isn't Always Golden: 3 tips for confronting problem behaviors head on

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Whoever coined the phrase “silence is golden” was not talking about a management technique. It’s widely accepted that positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to increase good behavior. But don’t be fooled into thinking that ignoring overtly bad behavior or marginal performance is the antithesis of positive reinforcement. Continue Reading...

Taking a Seat at the Table

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There’s a new role emerging in hospitals and health systems around the country: the Patient Experience Professional (PXP). That title varies from organization to organization and may be classified as a manager, coordinator, or even CXO. The PXP is a person appointed to lead the patient experience strategy and a corresponding improvement in HCAHPS scores. Whether promoted from within or hired from outside the organization, the person selected to fill this role is likely to feel an initial rush of exhilaration, soon to be followed by a sinking feeling of “now what?” Continue Reading...

To Cure Sometimes, Relieve Often and Care Always

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Ambroise Paré is credited with these words and while Paré, the uneducated son of a country artisan who became a great surgeon, said them in the 16th century, they still resonate today. In fact, a Google search of the phrase generates 1.3 million hits! There is much that is beyond our control in the practice of healthcare. The human system is complex. There is only so much, within our power, that we can do when dealing with the human body, disease, illness, and trauma. Much is beyond our control. The one area where we do have tremendous power and control, however, is in the area of caring. Continue Reading...

Trust is a Fragile Thing

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Any number of things can, and does, impact our personal lives negatively and cause us to make mistakes or perform ineffectively on the job, but it’s important we resist the temptation to share these personal situations with our customers. We may think we are just explaining the reason behind a mistake, but what the customer hears is an excuse that alerts them to be on the lookout for more shortcomings. They really don’t want to hear about our problems! In fact, as cold as this may sound, patients are really most concerned with their own wellbeing. And that is exactly how it should be. They are the ones who are scared and vulnerable. Don’t add to that vulnerability by saying things that will make them less confident in you, the organization, and the care that they should expect from you. The attendant might simply have apologized for the almost-error and thanked me for catching it. Instead, she did something that I’m afraid many of us in healthcare also do from time to time: she made excuses. In this case, her excuse was that she had been up for over 24 hours. She said something like, “So, I’ve got to expect that I’m going to make some mistakes.” Continue Reading...

Walking the Talk: What You Permit, You Promote!

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Every hospital we’ve ever worked with has a series of expectations for their staff members related to the customer experience—things like: Addressing patients by their preferred name Offering hospitality to waiting visitors Making eye contact and greeting patients and visitors in hallways and elevators Picking up and disposing of any litter or spills, or notifying housekeeping Not eating food in patient care areas or when visible to patients Continue Reading...

What Can You Do in Eight Seconds? You may be surprised

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Eight seconds. That’s how long it takes to form a first impression. If you think about your own interactions, you can quickly see the validity of this statistic. Whether at a job interview, a social event or a retail setting, we form impressions quickly. So do our patients. Continue Reading...

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