The Role of Customer Service in Your Healthcare Business

Hamza Asumah, MD

Customer service is a key component of any successful business, but particularly so for service-based businesses where clients are paying for an experience that must exceed their expectations. Due to the particular vulnerability of those seeking their services, healthcare businesses are particularly vulnerable to the positive or negative effects of customer service. In 2016, it was published that businesses lost 75 billion from poor customer service according to forbes.

Photo by Protovix

Understanding and appreciating empathy is a crucial aspect of customer service in healthcare. Your role as a healthcare provider is to understand that your clients face a number of challenges that place them in a weak position and to provide them with service that exceeds their expectations, you must be empathetic. Employees will become naturally skilled at customer service this way. Sadly, being empathetic is more difficult than it sounds.

Getting your healthcare business off the ground and growing in Africa requires excellent customer service. In today’s healthcare business landscape, patients/customers wield expansive power, especially because they have a range of options at their disposal. Ritz Carlton Hotels, for example, built their global brand on excellent service and a commitment to pampering their guests, as expressed in their motto.  It has been an active learning process even for well-established businesses like the Ritz Carlton.

When it comes to customer service in the healthcare industry, simple gestures like greeting the client separate the service from merely a task, anticipating the client’s needs, and saying good-bye to the client after the service is complete are essential. While they may seem trivial, these are the minimum standards that need to be met in order to give the customer an experience that is at least as good as what they expect.

Photo by Forbes

In order to become a signal in an ocean of noise, you need to go beyond this, however, and aim for an unforgettable experience.

First of all, it is crucial for new employees to receive customer service training that is consistent and easy to understand. Supervisors will tell, show, do, and review the material during this training. In order to make this better, a regular follow-up process is required.

Secondly, Customer service coordinators and client experience coordinators are among the most important employees in a company, ensuring that no aspect of the client’s experience is overlooked. Picking up on these experiences early and continuing to improve on them has proven to be extremely beneficial to the healthcare industry. Others are going one step further by creating client experience departments where client experiences are managed holistically to assure repeat business.

Photo by ProvideSupport

Thirdly, feedback and suggestion boxes are not just for the optics; they are actually supposed to give you feedback and suggestions from the people you seek to serve. Some healthcare businesses are unable to locate the keys to these boxes, and even if they do, they simply look through these comments like social media gossip. These are supposed to be carefully analyzed by management and systems built to evaluate and implement them. USE THOSE SUGGESTIONS TO IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE

Fourthly, your customer service hotline should always have another human being on the other side of the phone. People find more value when they are able to speak to a person about their problems rather than a robot or an email inbox. This is part of the experience clients will have in your business.

Photo by Hubspot

Lastly, you are never too busy to listen to a client. Make the time. This is especially common in the healthcare setting where there is a tendency to get carried away by all the chaos. You have to be intentional about talking to a client.

This is not the gospel truth to revolutionize your customer service, but they are important pointers to where you should pay attention when revising your custom service protocol in your healthcare business. Beyond whether or not a customer is satisfied, you must also look at the level of satisfaction.

I am sure you’ve had your own encounters with good and awful customer service in various African healthcare establishments. Please share your experience in the comments area below, as well as thoughts for how healthcare businesses may deliver services that surpass your expectations for the service you are paying for. Please share your ideas.

2 responses to “The Role of Customer Service in Your Healthcare Business”

  1. Great article. I must add that customer experience is what builds any service based business and should actually rank higher than any ambitions that a business may have.

    I had a question though. What you’ve described sounds like it can work well for established healthcare facilities. Any pointers for “one man show” kind of facilities or healthcare startups in general?


    • Thank you for this very insightful addition, Jacob. For one man facility, this should be much easier in my opinion. At that scale, it is easier for the founder to “touch” every bed and every patient as that customer base is not yet out of control. This will mean that the founder should be the voice behind that customer service hotline as well as the customer experience coordinator. A “one-man” show literally means that, especially at the beginning of the healthcare business.


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