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The Added Value of Being Nice

In last week’s blog, we touched on the importance of using positive statements when recruiting healthcare providers.  While a critical factor in that scenario, the idea of positivity has a much further reach.  Everyone is familiar with the old adage of catching more flies with honey than vinegar and customer service is hardly a new concept … but its importance in the world of healthcare is increasing every day.  It sounds simple, but one of the primary pieces of advice we find ourselves giving to struggling managers and business owners is: “be nice”.  

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This is particularly salient in the world of home care and when dealing with geriatric populations.  With the aging baby boomers, healthcare organizations are suddenly finding themselves, on a regular basis, dealing with entire care teams comprised of patients, family members, other primary providers, specialists, etc.  As a good rule of thumb, every time you accept a new geriatric patient, you should be prepared to work with 2-5 additional individuals.  Many of whom will have very personal (often emotional) relationships with the patient.

And internal customer service is just as important as external customer service; unhappy staff members won’t provide top-tier support and their upset will transfer to your referral sources which will transfer to your patients, creating a cycle that’s difficult to shake.  Turnover will start, which will lead to instability, a bad market reputation (hurting both efforts to staff the best talent and increase your patient base), loss of patients, and so on.  

How can you, as a healthcare organization, combat this?  While we don’t have all the answers, we would like to share with you 5 Quick Tips for “Being Nice”:

  • Don’t tell them what you can’t do for them … tell them what you CAN do.  If a referral source asks for a piece of paperwork today that you can’t provide, don’t tell them that - instead, tell them that you CAN get it to them tomorrow.

  • Give realistic expectations and deliver on them.  Don’t tell someone that you’ll “get right back to them” when you know you won’t have the answer until tomorrow.

  • Managers, ask your staff how they’re doing today … and mean it.  Happy people make happy employees and you should care about your staff’s morale as much as your own.

  • Develop a customer feedback program, whether it be via email survey, a “ballot” in your office, or a customer service rep making outgoing calls.  Too often disgruntled patients will simply leave; if you make the effort to find out why, you can fix issues before they lead to attrition and have the necessary knowledge to improve your customer experience.

  • Smile on the phone!  It sounds cheesy and it is … but plaster on that grin and it will be heard over the phone (we promise).

This is just a small look into a very expansive topic, but we hope it helps and we wish you and your organization all the best as you look to reach new heights of employee and patient satisfaction!