“Thank you for calling. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We’re closed from noon to 2 p.m. for lunch. If you have reached this recording during normal business hours, please leave a message. We will get back to you by the next business day.”
That’s the message I keep getting when I try to schedule an appointment with one particular physician. And I have left several messages with no response.
Under normal circumstances, I would have zero tolerance for this total lack of responsiveness and would simply have called another doctor. But in this case, I have already seen the physician for a particular injury, went through the trouble of getting an MRI and would really like to get the results.
Where’s the Disconnect?
Given the practice’s troubling habit of not responding, I should not have been surprised when I called again this morning only to learn that the phone number had been disconnected.
When will physicians really grasp that they are in business and that to stay in business, they need to start treating patients as their customers? Ok, I understand that doctors went to medical school, not business school. Still, somewhere in between anatomy and pharmaceuticals 101, were they not taught that private practice requires more than office space and a listing in the phone book?
Running a successful physician’s practice takes the skills and talents of multiple staff members, from the front desk person who answer the phones to the physicians and nurses who provide the clinical expertise. The one thing each of these people has in common is their interaction with customers—the practice’s patients.
Basic Customer Service
There is much a physician can learn from studying the successful marketing and customer service standards of other businesses:
- Return phone calls and emails promptly, and always within 24 hours
- Provide continual staff training on customer service excellence and how to handle difficult customers in a professional and effective way
- Provide multiple ways for customers to contact you including phone, email and website
These are a few of the simple fundamentals that physician practices must take seriously, especially in today’s tough economic climate where consumers are judicious in how they spend their money. Mastering the basics is also a prerequisite before a practice can effectively implement a marketing or public relations campaign.
For more information on practice marketing, refer to Lisa’s most recent post and Debbie’s post on ‘Practice Marketing is Not Rocket Science’.