Healthcare Customer Service Lessons Learned from the Hospitality Industry

Hotel receptionist giving a guest her room key, a lesson from the hospitality industry on healthcare customer service | Vanguard Communications | Denver

Put a little lagniappe –service above what’s expected– in your practice to keep patients happy and your business thriving

I was a recent guest of a Kimpton Hotel and saw a sign in the restroom notifying me that if I had forgotten anything, they would be sure to send to my room – without any charge – any toiletries or anything else that I needed to make my stay enjoyable. What a wonderful message.

I, like I am sure most guests, will occasionally forget to bring something, and there is a certain anxiety about finding out that a razor, shaving cream or a fingernail clipper was omitted when packing for the trip. In my situation, it was shirt collar stays. I have used paper clips in the past, but these don’t look as nice or do the job as regular shirt collar stays. I called the front desk and explained my situation, and an assortment of collar stays of different sizes was brought to my room at no charge.

What was my opinion of that hotel? It was off the chart in terms of customer service satisfaction. My customer survey was full of accolades for the entire hotel and I especially mentioned the card in the restroom offering to be of additional service.

Healthcare customer service the Louisiana way, called lagniappe

In Louisiana we have an expression for service above and beyond what is expected. It is called lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap). The definition of lagniappe is a small gift given to a customer (or patient) by a merchant (or doctor) at the time of a purchase. It broadly means something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure. I was born in the North, and the same concept was referred to as the “baker’s dozen” where an extra, or thirteenth, pastry or other item was given to the customer.

Let me provide you with a few examples of lagniappe from my practice that improve our healthcare customer service.

Most of my patients in my adult urologic practice are over age 50. As a result, most of the men and women have visual problems and have difficulty reading the 12-point font of most of the forms and reading material. Many of these patients have reading glasses and some don’t remember to bring their glasses to the office. To solve that problem, I have provided a few “readers” that are available to any patient who needs visual assistance.

We have made Wi-Fi available in the reception area and in the exam rooms. This healthcare customer service perk is appreciated by patients, their families and also by the pharmaceutical representatives.

Take home message from Kimpton Hotels that applies to medical practices

All doctors have skills for the diagnosis and treatment of the diseases and conditions we commonly see in our practices. We all have access to the same pharmacopeia, the same access to diagnostic studies and imaging, as well as the same surgical instruments as our other colleagues. Therefore, as we attempt to differentiate our practice from others in the community, we need to provide something extra. So I recommend you try putting a little lagniappe into your practice.

Your patients will appreciate it.

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