Whilst I work a lot with medical practices and other professional services, this is relevant to all businesses. By bedside manner, I am talking about how you treat your customers and general customer service. Some professionals and medical specialists (not all!) think that as long as they are the best (or very close to it) how their manner is and how they treat their patient or client is not as important. Certainly, if you are having heart surgery or a knee reconstruction or a root canal, then you want something who is really good at what they do. But is that enough?
I would suggest not. Whether you are the best Endodontist in Australia, the best electrician in town, or the best accountant in the city, consider this. If I have the choice of two specialists (let’s talk about a root canal) who are apparently equal in skill and assuming fairly equal in pricing, then what is my next consideration? How they make me feel! Having a root canal, surgery, even getting your house painted can be a pain. Literally or figuratively. If you have to endure the pain (physical, monetary, inconvenience etc) then why not do it with someone who is pleasant to be around? Bedside manner does matter! Yes, absolutely do a quality job or service, but have your client or patient walking away saying you were great. If you are rude, surly, abrupt and have the manner of a dead fish, then your client or patient may walk away knowing you did an excellent job, but will they be raving fans? I would suggest not.
Here are some things to keep in mind about bedside manner in business:
• Greet your patients.
Sounds sort of obvious, but I know medical people who just wave you to a seat and proceed to read your file. Worse, their receptionist takes you to the seat, they ‘Queen in’ and dive straight into your mouth. Remember, a patient is a person. Take a moment for the pleasantries. Shake their hand (male and female), smile and spend a moment listening to them.
• Stay fresh.
It’s been a long day and you’ve seen a dozen patients or clients already and you’re tired. Keep up the professionalism and find the energy and stamina to stay energised and positive. No client (or patient) wants to feel you’re worn out and are only getting part of your attention. Even if you’re tired, have a headache or have done a 14-hour day – you are bright, energised and happy to see this client like they are your only client (or patient).
• Train Yourself.
Many business owners don’t get around to personal or professional development. However, when they do, it’s often either relating to their area of expertise (technical knowledge) or they may work on marketing/sales. Often, customer service is forgotten. So, if you haven’t listened or read something lately on this subject please make a point of doing so.
• Train Staff.
Interesting, when you get a lovely specialist or professional, sometimes the staff (especially medical people) have a scratchy receptionist. This may be a game of ‘bad cop, good cop’ but there is no reason for this. Your reception/staff should be even more helpful and friendly as you. Ensure that your ethos of customer (or patient) care being important to the business or practice is passed onto staff, they are provided training and are constantly reminded of the importance of treating clients (or patients) well. If you make it standard as regular training and inductions, then you won’t have to sit down and have that awkward conversation with your team member that you are getting some complaints.
In a busy business (or practice), we all get caught up in the activities; seeing people, invoicing, chasing up on results, booking people in and so forth. Often, things like marketing slide and especially revisits about your customer service practices. Be sure to diarise regularly a review of your customer service policy, manner and what is happening. Consider a ‘mystery shopper’ who rings the business or practice to make an enquiry. How are they treated? The same can be actioned for an onsite visit … are staff (and even yourself) being reviewed. Do you ever ask clients (or patients) afterward what the experience was like? If you have a heap of social media glowing reviews, then you may know the answer, but if you don’t have a single review … should you wonder why?
On a final note, do you regularly ask your clients or patients to pop a review up on your Google Plus page, Facebook Business Page or email you a few words about their experience? Regularly asking for reviews not only is a good measure of how things are going, keeps you focussed on customer service, but they make great tools to use in your ongoing marketing. I know for the medical industry, the use of these is limited, but if you are not a medical practitioner, then go for it and make the most of testimonials and reviews.
If you (or your staff) are needing training, mentoring or coaching around business, sales/marketing, customer service or other aspects of business, I’d love to chat with you. Simply call me on 0411 622 666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out this blog Is Your Business Like an Emergency Room?