Good Customer Service Practices for Nurses

Customer Service in Healthcare

What is Customer Service?

Customer service is the provision of a service to a customer. As this applies to Healthcare, the customers are the patients, their families, and the communities that are served. The service provided is Healthcare. Millions of people access healthcare each week. Whether it be routine exams, urgent care, emergency room care, lab work, radiology, surgeries... The list goes on. Healthcare is one of the largest businesses in existence, impacting millions worldwide.

In the United States of America, the healthcare system is set up so that patients have the right and ability to choose their provider and choose where they receive care. With patients having such autonomy, hospitals and practices must provide good customer service in order to compete for patients. What patient would choose to go to the doctor who is know to be rude and always seems to be in a rush? What patient would choose to seek care at a facility with the reputation of being dirty or having long waits?

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction measures what people think or how they feel about the services they were provided. In Hospitals, patients receive surveys to measure their perspective of the services provided. A common survey is HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Services). This survey collects objective data that enables comparisons to be made amongst hospitals across the country.

Press Ganey is a nationally recognized consulting firm that surveys patients about their Hospital experience. This allows Hospitals to identify not only areas they thrive in, but also areas in need of improvement.

Hospital Survey's

When are you more likely to fill out the Hospital survey?

  • When you have a good experience
  • When you have a bad experience
  • Always
  • Never
See results without voting

What Patients Want

According to surveys, What are some of the most important things patients look for in order to give Hospitals high satisfaction scores?

  • Courtesy when being cared for
  • Information and Explanations
  • Care in a timely manner
  • Cleanliness

Patients and families tend to spread the word about their negative experiences more often than their positive ones. Common complaints are:

  • The staff was rude
  • The Hospital was dirty
  • I had to wait a long time to be seen
  • The nurses don't respond quickly to the call bells
  • It took too long for me to get my pain medication
  • The nurses didn't explain things to me
  • I didn't know what was going on and was scared

Try asking someone why they chose a particular doctor or facility, or ask for a recommendation on where to go. Only then do you hear some of the compliments or positives of a doctor, facility, or practice.

Customer Service: The Role of the Nurse

Nurses play an important customer service role for hospitals, doctors offices and other medical facilities. Nurses are the ones with the most frequent, direct patient interaction. They act as a liaisons between Doctor's and patients and leave lasting impressions. Providing excellent customer service to patients will increase customer satisfaction. In recent years, hospitals have begun to focus on this aspect in Healthcare and have implemented training programs for their employees. Sometimes employees are sent to attend Customer Service Training Programs, like the ones put out by Disney. More commonly there are a series of in house training seminars on Customer Service Excillence.

What can nurses do to provide excellent customer service to their patients?

Be personable and connect with patients:

  • Listen
  • Use touch when appropriate
  • Make eye contact
  • Do not rush interactions with patients

Use appropriate language:

  • Discuss medical information in language that patients can understand
  • For example: If a patient has a fourth grade reading level do not use every big word and medical term possible when discussing medical information

Care, Compassion, and Communication...

Show that you care:

  • Ask patients if they have any questions or concerns
  • Take the time to listen to any questions or concerns that the patient may have
  • Show empathy and acknowledge their issues
  • Address their issues and keep them informed on actions being taken

Involve patients in their care:

  • Give patients choices whenever possible
  • Take their preferences into consideration and formulate a plan together
  • Be knowledgable and considerate of the cultural, social or economic factors that influence their care, decision making, and interation with the healthcare team

© 2012 Amanda S

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Comments 10 comments

Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi aDayInMyLife,

I thoroughly enjoyed this perspective on customer service,good job!

The health care system is somewhat different here and many people who have always had private medical insurance, have cancelled policies due to financial pressures. I have had recent admittance to hospital and the nurses that attended me, I have the utmost respect for. A tough job, long hours and hectic conditions. My mum was a nurse and I have always admired this profession. Congrats on a unique and important angle!

Voted up, interesting and useful!

aDayInMyLife1 profile image

aDayInMyLife1 4 years ago from CA Author

@Suzie HQ thank you so much for your comment and compliment to nurses. It feels great to be recognized and appreciated. I am glad that you had a good experience and hope all is well.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Excellent, excellent hub, A Day...from a nurse's perspective you hit the important points in an interesting and well organized manner. Rated way UP /U/I and I'm sharing it...

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

You are so right. There is nothing worse than being weak and ill, and at the mercy of the staff, and feeling like they or uncaring or incompetent. Even if that's not true, poor communication with the patient or family can make it seem so. This is a situation where customer service is extremely important. Thanks for an insightful hub. Voted up and shared.

aDayInMyLife1 profile image

aDayInMyLife1 4 years ago from CA Author

@ Sherry Hewins thanks. I am glad you liked my Hub. Customer service is a major focus in Nursing. I realize nurses are people too and can have a bad day, but they need to be able to put all things aside and be compassionate when caring for their patients because they are either going through the best time (Having a baby) or worst time (being ill and hospitalized) of their lives.

Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

Personally, I am happy to see the medical field finally become patient oriented. I think for so long medical professionals were made out to be Gods, a role nobody can live up too. For this field, good customer service saves lives.

aDayInMyLife1 profile image

aDayInMyLife1 4 years ago from CA Author

@Lipnancy the medical field has always been patient oriented. Without the patients there would be no work. The difference is that patients would trust whatever the Doctors said without question. Now patients are educated and ask questions and have the right to get second opinions. With this the focus on customer service becomes more important. And yes good customer service/ good patient does save lives. thanks for the comment :)

Sergio Freddson 21 months ago

Thank you for these tips! Is there a class in the required nursing courses that deals with these types of tips? My wife is studying to become a nurse currently and she has been learning all types of fun facts like these. I really like the way you broke everything down in layman's terms though. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us!

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Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 16 months ago from Oklahoma

My wife is a nurse, and in my opinion, nurses run the hospitals, not the doctors.

Great hub for reinforcing positive healthcare conduct.

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    Amanda S (aDayInMyLife1)97 Followers
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    Having worked as a travel nurse for more than 10 years & in over 10 hospitals accross USA, Amanda has a well rounded and diverse backround.

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