Don’t Wait on Fixing Waits

Where do you hear the loudest customer complaints in the typical hospital of today? It’s the Emergency Room.

“Why have I waited so long?!” “Why did that person on the stretcher go back to a room before me?! I was here first!” “I’ve been here 2 hours, and nobody’s told me anything!”

These complaints are pervasive, but they also point to the impact of customer service. Remember that customer service involves processes. Customer service is part employee attitudes/skills/knowledge, and the other part is process. How long something takes, how long are the waits, how efficient is a process, how redundant are the processes, how smooth the flow of information and people is or isn’t – those are all characteristics of process.

And whereas businesses spend lots of money every year to have employees trained on how to deal with irate customers, a tactic just as valuable as that is to identify the root causes of why customers are irate and to address those root causes. In healthcare, so many of those complaints are about one thing – process.

So if you want your organization to be better from a customer service-perspective in your customers’ eyes, if you want to reduce the number of conflicts with customers which your employees have to address, then fix your processes. Find out where waits exist, the cause of the waits, the communications during the waits, and perceptions of the length of the wait time, and address them.

Many of our clients redesign departmental layouts, they change processes, they do a better job of scheduling staff to flex up/down with variations by time-of-day or day-of-week with customer volumes or arrival rates. They train staff on how to and how often to interact with customers during wait to provide updates, keep them engaged, convey they care, and – ultimately – to reduce the perception of the wait time. The clients create activities for the customers or distractions which help to reduce the perception of the wait times.

In other words, the hospitals and other organizations best at dealing with waits try to reduce wait times while at the same time reducing the perception of waits.

Wait times are a symptom of an issue with your customer service. Don’t wait on fixing waits.

Interested in improving your company’s customer service? See more information at: http://www.cssamerica.com/

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