I know I could have asked to speak to the owner (I’ve only known him for thirty years), but – after three consecutive mishaps – it seemed pointless. Clearly, the business I’ve patronized for decades is failing.
The signs are clear: high employee turnover, poor customer engagement and staff attitude, and a total failure to address and resolve customer service complaints, issues, or concerns. Worse, the facility is in decline, and the owner has introduced a separate product line that has nothing to do with his business.
All small business owners lose customers every year, but we, as health-care professionals, have an incredible advantage over most. First, we generally establish a long-term relationship with our patients built upon compassionate care, education, and trust. Second, many are friends and neighbors. Third, we often see all members of a family, which enhances that personal relationship.
When a patient of record does leave a practice, it’s often due to a change of employment or insurance network, or family relocation. In general, if there is an issue regarding services rendered, the patient will make us aware of his or her concern, and give us the opportunity to resolve it.
Having said that, we do lose some few patients “quietly” each year. We most often don’t discover that until one becomes long overdue for preventive care. Reaching out through personal calls or a professional letter sometimes renews that relationship, but “quietly” losing patients can often be avoided by asking our patients for feedback every few years through a “customer satisfaction” survey.
An online survey can be designed using “Survey Monkey,” or sample surveys can be obtained through the ADA and other organizations. Ask patients what they appreciate and value about your practice and why they return. Ask them what could be improved, and – importantly – ask if they’ve experienced an issue or concern which wasn’t addressed to their satisfaction.
Proactively addressing service issues with our patients of record is good business, and helps maintain those long-lasting relationships. In the meantime, I’m looking for a new drycleaner….
“The only certain means of success is to render more and better service
than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be.””