Customer service, customer service, customer service! If you’re in the service industry this is hammered into every employee and manager. While this is obviously critical in say, a restaurant or department store, it wasn’t always the focus in healthcare. That’s been changing over the last decade but even within healthcare, there’s a critical piece missing from the customer service experience.
Price is part of the customer service package
Within healthcare, good customer service is evident in several ways: the front office staff that quickly says hello to the patient walking in the door, offering them something to drink, returning their calls, bringing them back to see the doctor as soon as possible. But part of customer service in healthcare is also answering the patient’s questions about their treatment plan or diagnosis.
A patient would never return to a doctor that avoids the tough questions. How can I get my blood pressure under control? What are my treatment options? Well, in many cases, the toughest question a patient asks a doctor or doctor’s staff is avoided. How much will this cost?! It’s unacceptable that a patient is expected to undergo a treatment without knowing the cost.
Getting a surprise bill should qualify as bad customer service. If you’re upset that the front office staff was rude to you, you should be equally or more upset that they just screwed you by sending you to the hospital for an X-ray that could have been done for a third of the price at an outpatient facility. You paid more because the office didn’t take the time to see if a less expensive facility accepted your insurance. Or maybe it was less expensive just paying cash irregardless of insurance status.
Not assisting patients with determining their out of pocket expense is bad customer service, plain and simply. Granted, determining that cost is not always plain and simple but that’s becoming easier with online resource for price transparency.
Price is irrelevant, until it’s not!
As John DiJulius enjoys saying, if customer service is excellent, price becomes irrelevant. This is true in most cases because the consumer has an idea of what the expense will be for poor and great customer service. They have a baseline. They have a comparison. Not in healthcare. The out of pocket costs can vary widely. The consumer must do their research or better yet, enlist the help of an office staff that provides great customer service to determine their out of pocket cost.