GETTING CLOSER TO YOUR “CUSTOMERS” By Bob Miglino MPS RRT
f you report to an administrator who empowers you to run your R.C. Department as if it was your own business, you could count
it as one of the true blessing of your job. After-all, this kind of en- vironment allows a department, as well as a profession, to flourish and “shine”. For some, working in this kind of environment has become the
“fun” part of the job; for others it has become a principle challenge. Many R.C. directors do think of their own business’ conve-
niently operating in the “mall” of health services known as the hos- pital.
Do you find yourself operating in this mode? Are you identi-
fying with your department with the same fervor you would if you were say, the sole owner of a restaurant or a dry cleaning business? Naturally, people who are in business for themselves are con-
stantly thinking about such matters as how to bring in more cus- tomers, how to increase profit margins, how to keep their customers satisfied and loyal, etc. Daily interaction and feedback with your customers would have you continuously changing and adjusting operations so as to improve your business and its growth, overall. In the hospital, our “customers” are our inpatients and outpa-
tients. As the “owner” of the R.C. department at your institution are
you close to your customers? Are you as close as you would be if your income was directly derived from their level of satisfaction as would be the case in your own business? The era of managed care and hospital consumerism is here
and growing. “Customers” are going to choose and stay loyal to the health care provider that they feel takes a personal interest in them and their state of wellness. Just as a good restaurant owner
cruises the tables asking “if everything is alright”, the smart R.C. director “cruises” his or her “tables” insuring consumer satisfac- tion in the health care setting. Here are a few ideas for getting closer to your “customers”: 1. Talk! Talk! Talk! Department Directors should visit and inter- view their “customers” regularly. This allows for the Director to “get it straight” and for the “customer” to hear it “from the horse’s mouth”. (It’s always nice to know the “owner” personally.)
2. Spean to the customers in their language, not yours. This ap- plies to symbolic as well as foreign languages.
3. Be accessible. The more ways customers can get in touch with you, the more favorable they will perceive your customer service.
4. Make commitments you can live up to. Everyone wants to know what to expect from the “company” they do business with. Make sure the commitment is clear and fully understood by the “customer”.
5. Put yourself in your “customers” place. Consider the steps your customer must take to do “business” with your department.
6. Understand fully how your own products and services can ben- efit your “customers” and their needs. In the health care setting, Directors should make sure physicians are fully informed of their “product line”, especially and new products and/or services re- cently introduced.
7. Invest in training for your “customer contact employees”. There’s nothing worse than dealing with someone who is less than competent. Training should include both specific answers to po- tential inquiries about products and services and the techniques for handling “customer” dissatisfaction in every situation.
8. Make sure these “customer contact employees” have all the in- formation they need so as to feel confident and capable when as- certaining the customer’s level of satisfaction. Needless to say, appearance manner must be professional.
The consumers of tomorrow will be different from those of
today. They’ll be better educated, more critical and knowledge- able about their rights – more socially oriented, concerned more with staying well – so be prepared. As managed care continues to evolve, competition will in-
“Good morning. How can you help me? I mean, how can I help you?”
12 Focus Journal Spring 2011
crease. The “owner” who is prepared to pamper as well as pro- vide will come out a winner.
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