In our recent post on how to hire and retain staff, we emphasized the importance of workplace culture – the “secret sauce” that attracts employees and customers to a business. Nowadays, having a company culture that emphasizes excellent customer service is crucial, even in health care.

A study from the American Society for Quality shows that only nine percent of customers will leave because they are lured away by the competition; 14 percent will leave because of dissatisfaction with the service; and an incredible 67 percent will leave because of the attitude of one person in your organization.

The bad news? You can’t train someone to care about your patients. The good news? If you hire well, you can train your employees to provide excellent customer service. Here’s how.

Train for skills, not service

A great example comes from a brand known for exemplary customer service and staff training: The Ritz-Carlton. Unsatisfied with high employee turnover, the luxury hotel chain overhauled its hiring process and now hires for culture first, job knowledge second, according to Joe Quitoni, corporate director of culture transformation with The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center. “I can train you to do anything I would like you to do… but I cannot train you how to deliver service from the heart. You’ve either got it or you don’t,” he explained in a customer-service seminar. Today, The Ritz-Carlton has one of the lowest rates of annual turnover in the industry among its 35,000 employees.

Give a shout-out

Training your staff to deliver better service and a better patient experience starts with clear communication and setting expectations. The Ritz-Carlton does this with a daily “lineup,” where every staffer gathers for a brief meeting to get everyone on the same page, reinforce the company’s mission, and share an example of an employee who has delivered exceptional service recently.

This public recognition of stellar performance is a smart move. Giving a staffer a “shout-out” during your morning meeting is way more effective than formal “Employee of the Month” programs, writes Jeff Haden in Inc. An added bonus: creating a “recognition culture” fosters healthy competition among employees and peer pressure to deliver even better customer service. And don’t forget to ask for staff feedback, as well. Who better to make suggestions for how to better serve patients than those on the front lines?

Give patients the technology they want

Part of providing better customer service and patient care includes embracing technology. From health apps to patient portals, patients want digital health tools and more doctors are offering them. And integrating technology into health care has a measurable impact on patient satisfaction. Hospitals using interactive technology to communicate with patients increased patient satisfaction scores by approximately 10 percent and increased satisfaction with educational materials by as much as 42 percent, reports the Beryl Institute.

It’s not hard to level up your patient care with technology. Here are some tips on how to use video in your waiting room, in your patient emails, on your website and on social media. To make digital patient education effective, of course, you must first familiarize your staff with it. Have them watch the videos a few times first, and ask you any additional questions they may have. For example, if you see a lot of dry eye patients, this is a good one to share with staff:

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Set expectations

Whether you’re implementing a new EHR, patient education program, or other technology tool that will impact their day-to-day jobs, staff should know why you’re doing so, says Mark Kaufman, medical director for U.S. health care and health care consulting partner with New York-based consulting firm Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), in Physicians Practice. “It’s important to set expectations and to explain what the benefits will be to the practice and to them.” These benefits might include automating intake forms or implementing text reminders to reduce no-shows, or cutting down on frequently asked questions by educating patients in the waiting room. For example, are lots of patients confused about their FSA or HSA? Having staff watch a video that clearly explains these benefits can then help them explain it better to patients. Some practices have even emailed this video to patients to encourage them to “use it or lose it” before their HSA funds expire, boosting end-of-year revenue for the practice!

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Hire well and train smart, lead by example, and make sure your employees feel that they are valued members of a team that’s committed to providing the best possible customer service and patient experience – those are the secrets to taking your practice to the next level this year.

You spoke out and Rendia listened. Due to high demand, we have released a free downloadable resource to help you hire and retain the best staff for your practice!