1. Look for inspiration beyond industry boundaries
“Patients don’t stop being consumers — customers — when they put on a hospital gown.”
Patient experience specialist and Forbes contributor
Your patients are retail savvy. Often, they are businesspeople. Entrepreneurs. Stakeholders. At the bare minimum, they consume products and services from a variety of industries through a variety of platforms every day. And most importantly, they are recipients and drivers of what is becoming a global benchmark for superior customer service.
Don’t set the bar for your facility’s service offering too low by comparing yourself exclusively with other local healthcare facilities. Instead, take note of how leaders in other sectors are responding to rising consumer demand for superior service, and determine how you can translate those principles into actionable targets within your unique environment.
2. Weave customer service principles into patient interactions
“Since experience excellence plainly helps create the repeat patient ‘customers’ that sustain profitable growth, healthcare providers urgently need to catch up on the loyalty learning curve.”
Accenture’s “Patient Loyalty: It’s up for Grabs” white paper
Addressing customer service in your healthcare facility may seem like a daunting task — but it doesn’t have to be. The basic principles customer service hinges on are already well-ingrained into our psyches. Making eye contact, smiling, and greeting people when crossing paths are relatively natural behaviors that can be woven into the patient journey with some cultural alignment among your workforce.
At Impark HEALTH, we leverage best practices honed over 30 years of operating in the healthcare industry. However, we also infuse our parking and transportation solutions with the “white-glove” service standards evidenced in the hospitality industry and borrow staff training methodologies used by global hospitality industry leaders. This allows us to consistently provide superior patient satisfaction.
3. Introduce a secret shopper (or mystery patient) program
“You absolutely must identify the specific behaviors that increase both loyalty and financial results. These behaviors are the blueprint for your success.”
Dr. Cheryl Flink
Secret shopper programs are a data goldmine often left unexploited in the healthcare industry. A well-developed program can help you to gain key insights into your facility’s strengths and weaknesses from a consumer’s perspective and commonly gleans more authentic information than surveys. (Survey contributors can be motivated to volunteer feedback based on extreme experiences and emotions that aren’t representative of your service offering.)
Impark’s mystery patient program, for example, supports the continual provision of high-quality customer service at all of our operations and facilities. The basic requirements include:
- The time the patient entered or exited the facility
- The amount charged for parking (if applicable)
- The amount paid (if applicable)
- The appearance and demeanor of the on-site manager
- Any other noteworthy observations.
4. Identify anxiety triggers
“Human nature is that first impressions are important, and the first person you see and deal with at the hospital many times is the parking person. It’s important because it sets the stage for the rest of the experience.”
If all of your patient experience efforts are focused on clinical care, you may be missing environmental factors with the potential to trigger patient and visitor anxiety.
Anxiety is an intensifier. It can make wait times and delays seem longer, make concision seem rude, and completely negate the chain of positive interactions that preceded the triggering event.
Ideally, your search for anxiety triggers should begin from your very first point of patient care on campus — your parking lot. If a patient or visitor’s parking experience is unnecessarily stressful or marred by delays and congestion, it becomes needlessly difficult to foster positive interactions with clinical staff, positive survey feedback, and healthy HCAHPS scores.
5. Increase the number of interaction opportunities
“People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them.”
Dr. Emma Seppala
The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education — Stanford Medicine
Regardless of their role, responsibilities, and formal title, each staff member in your healthcare facility is a caregiver conveying a message about the quality of your clinical care. By building more opportunities for quality interaction into the patient experience, you will be able to:
- Offer a more personalized, intimate service.
- Strengthen trust, loyalty, and confidence.
- Demonstrate your commitment to your patient’s health and welfare.
- Extend your environment of care.
You can increase interaction opportunities by boosting the visibility of support staff or by introducing additional roles with clear customer service responsibilities, such as wayfinding and patient attendants.
Impark HEALTH is committed to improving patient experiences across North America through seamless implementation and management of parking and transportation services. Our entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to providing superior service have facilitated the development of multiple value-added service packages for the healthcare industry, including shuttle, valet, wayfinding attendants, patient attendants, fleet management, and more. Get in touch to see how we can help you.