Service Quality as Success Factor
Enhancing social skills on a lasting basis
As is so often the case in life, the first impression is what determines the overall image: To ensure that patients and their visitors feel good during their entire stay in specialized clinics and medical centers, the quality of the service provided by the company is the most important success factor.
Social skills, sympathy, and professionalism are the hallmarks of outstanding patient care. But in many facilities, there is a gap between the stated aim and reality, for various reasons. As a result, it is important for as many employees as possible to undergo training as a group. The goal is to improve day-to-day customer service on a consistent basis.
Seminars held as part of clearly defined service offensives enhance each and every individual employee’s motivation. This has proven positive effects on the image and also enables lasting successes in an increasingly competitive environment. Improved teamwork for the customer’s benefit leads to significantly higher patient satisfaction. This results in ongoing increases in occupancy figures and higher returns.
As with hotels, the quality of the facilities is now subject to increasing scrutiny. Evaluations include information on medical quality, patient safety, satisfaction among patients and referring physicians, quality certificates, patient numbers, healthcare and service offerings, and technical equipment. The Bundesfachkonferenz für Personalmanagement und Organisationsentwicklung im Krankenhaus (Federal Specialized Conference for HR Management and Organizational Development in Hospitals) also examines these topics by looking at the future of hospitals.
Special training programs and professional education seminars provide service employees, administrative staff, and executives with detailed continuing education, preparing them for the individual needs and requirements of patients, visitors, and external service personnel.
The customer focus embodied by concepts such as “etiquette in the workplace” and the elimination of hierarchical distinctions between physicians, executives, and service and nursing staff benefits groups such as patients, visitors, partners, and suppliers of the Saarland University Medical Center, in the city of Homburg. The medical center’s employees have put training concepts to work for them on a lasting basis to optimize relations with customers. To be able to compete nationally and even internationally, social skills are just as vital as highly qualified physicians, innovative high-tech medicine, and modern facility infrastructures.
Patients want to be welcomed by friendly, capable staff right at the entrance and admitted to the hospital in a calm setting. Older people and those who are ill should be escorted to the right specialized department. Friendly transportation services and socially capable reception teams make it easier for patients to get their bearings in the clinic.
Personal appearance, a positive overall attitude, respect, engagement, neat and clean clothing, confident body language, and a positive outward image are among the most important building blocks of successful communication, along with providing a friendly greeting and engaging with others with a finely tuned social sense. Another important factor: Meals should be chosen individually and always served to patients fresh and in an appealing way. Family members and all other visitors also benefit from the attention of the staff at all times.
Suppliers should be guided around the clinic grounds quickly and efficiently by capable employees. This minimizes logistical costs. Communication and willingness to provide services efficiently, with the focus on the customer, are the key to lasting success.
So what about the patient, who often has a choice? Nowadays, the patient’s first impression is more important than “medical capacity” alone. Facilities that focus on patients and customers enjoy a clear competitive advantage. The comfort factor is paramount in determining the image. In the future, quality of service will determine who will “survive” as they compete with others. Ensuring that the focus is on customers by having trained service staff – not just medical and nursing staff – in the central business and cafeteria facilities is one of the major elements of cost-effective hospital operations.
Despite all of the process optimizations, it should be clear that clinics are a place where people work for people. Unconventional conceptual approaches designed for the various business services, all the way through to nursing and care services, can help achieve major successes. Team orientation, a requirement that everyone use outstanding social skills, setting goals and achieving targets for executives in coaching sessions are generally at the heart of these activities.
Author: Jörg Messwarb, HR management expert, Wiesbaden
- Image 1 and 2: Definitely cite image source as “djd/AXA”
- Image 3: Jörg Messwarb
Reprinting permitted free of charge
Source: KTM 04/13