Satisfied customers are crucial to just about any business; however, medical practices are under particular scrutiny when it comes to keeping patients happy.
Unsatisfied patients are pretty common in the medical field. After all, nobody wants to fall ill, miss work or spend hours on end sitting in a waiting room. Regardless, need to have a plan when it comes to keeping patients pleased.
Keep in mind that customer satisfaction doesn’t only impact your practice’s doctors and staff: in fact, poor patient ratings could have a negative impact on your bottom line. While keeping patients happy may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to understand how patient satisfaction could place a financial burden on your practice and what to do to resolve it.
Reputations, Ratings and Reviews
Modern businesses are both reaping the rewards and suffering the consequences sites such as Yelp, who publish customer ratings and reviews. Our online reputation represents a two-way street: positive feedback makes us look like a million bucks, meanwhile it’s almost impossible to shake the sting of a negative review.
Healthcare-specific review sites Healthgrades and RateMDs represent a potential breeding ground for bad news if your practice isn’t taking care of its customers. For example, a potential patient who stumbles on your practice from Google and finds nothing but complaints is likely to take their business elsewhere.
If you don’t believe that online reputation matters for medical practices, think again. Word of mouth has always been important to doctors; however, the prevalence of ratings and reviews online give complainers a much louder voice.
The Cost of Obtaining New Patients
Obviously, it’s preferable to keep your existing patients coming back through your front door than constantly pushing for new business.
However, keep the cost of obtaining new patients in mind, especially as more and more offices take hits from low patient satisfaction scores. An existing patient can easily become a lifetime asset to your practice if they keep returning, but what happens when they jump ship to a competing office?
While you certainly shouldn’t look at your patients as walking dollar signs, remember that you’re running a business. Just like any other industry, your patients have the option to walk away and you have the expectation to meet their needs in terms of service.
Rising Healthcare Costs
As legislation surrounding healthcare constantly changes and medical costs continue to rise, more patients are prone to shopping around for cheaper doctors. Therefore, it’s crucial that you give patients a reason to come back to you beyond medical care: solid customer service may be your best bet.
What Can Doctors Do?
The question remains: what can practices do to help ensure that patients stick around? While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to customer satisfaction, consider the following:
- You can start by improving the efficiency of your practice. Many complaints about doctors offices come from long wait times and unnecessary appointments or consultations, all of which can be eliminated by a more efficient office.
- Be sure to offer service with a smile, even if it seems cliche. Although running a doctor’s office can incredibly be stressful, bear in mind the stress that comes with being a patient as well.
- Ask for customer feedback when appropriate. Surveys can help give your patients something to do during their downtime; meanwhile, such feedback can let you know firsthand what to improve upon.
There are many moving pieces to running a medical practice; however, customer satisfaction is definitely not a piece that can simply fall to the wayside. By keeping your patients happy, you better poise your practice for ongoing financial success.