The Art of Feedback

In an increasingly competitive healthcare landscape, customer service remains pivotal in defining a facility’s success. Often, it’s the little things that make all the difference – the seemingly insignificant gestures, the empathetic responses, and the willingness to listen and receive feedback. 

I recently had to have outpatient surgery. The day before the surgery, I was expecting a call with the critical details about my procedure, where to report, when to show up, any last-minute instructions for prep, etc. Instead, no one called all day, and I was left to try to find out for myself. After about 12 calls, I still had no information. It was 9:00 pm the night before, so it seemed I had no alternative but to cancel. Just when I had given up all hope, the nurse manager called me to give instructions. She gave me a curt apology along with the necessary information. 

I waited until my surgical follow-up to tell the surgeon that I nearly canceled on him at the last minute because of the poor coordination. He was visibly disturbed to hear my story and insisted I call the patient experience department. I did just that. In describing the service failure, the patient services person was disinterested at best. Her tone and word choice communicated, “I don’t care.” 

I don’t often play the, “Do you know what I do for a living?” card, but it felt necessary. When I told her that I help healthcare organizations improve their patient experience, she again just gave me a curt, “Yeah?.” Once again, she essentially told me, “I don’t care.”

Are You Ready to Listen?

This leads me to my question: when someone offers you feedback are you ready to listen? You can’t necessarily control what happened, but you can always control your tone, and your words, and you can ask questions to learn more, showing your interest in doing better next time. Above all, when given the opportunity for service recovery, does everyone know that they are representing the entire organization? 

Seemingly “little things” add up. It’s the courteous greeting, the attentive assistance, and the timely and courteous phone call with instructions – that create a positive perception and a lasting connection.

And when things do go wrong act on behalf of the organization with gratitude for being given the opportunity to apologize, make amends, and learn. 

Here are some key elements for embracing feedback: 

Listening, Not Just Hearing

Listening goes far beyond merely hearing words. It’s about actively engaging with customers, understanding their needs, and showing empathy. In the age of social media and online reviews, customers have more avenues than ever to express their opinions. It’s crucial to be ready to hear all feedback and to do so with an open mind.

Embracing Feedback

Receiving feedback can be challenging, especially when it’s bad news. However, feedback is a valuable tool for growth and improvement. Rather than brushing it off, view feedback as a gift – an opportunity to refine your processes, enhance your products or services, and strengthen your customer relationships. Every piece of feedback, no matter how small, offers insights into your customers’ experiences and perceptions. By acknowledging feedback, you demonstrate that you care about your customer’s opinions and are committed to delivering an exceptional experience.

Controlling Your Response

While you can’t control what people will tell you, you have complete control over your response. What you think and say is well within your control. Your tone and choice of words play a significant role in shaping how your customers perceive your brand. Even when faced with criticism, responding with understanding and professionalism can turn a potentially negative situation into a positive one. Take the time to craft thoughtful and empathetic responses that address customers’ concerns while showcasing your commitment to their satisfaction.

Asking Questions and Learning

One of the most effective ways to learn from customer feedback is by asking questions. When customers provide feedback, don’t just stop at understanding the issue – inquire further. Ask questions that delve deeper into their experiences, their expectations, and their suggestions for improvement. This not only demonstrates your willingness to understand but also provides you with valuable insights that can guide your efforts to do better in the future.

In the world of customer service, the little things truly do speak volumes. Being open to feedback, both positive and negative, shows that you are committed to constantly improving. It can also help ensure that each interaction leaves a positive and lasting impression.

How you accept feedback is inextricably linked to service recovery. It may be time to dive deep into your organization’s service recovery training. Learn more about Baird Group’s A+ Service Recovery train the trainer program here or schedule a free 30-minute consultation today

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