Good bedside manner can reassure and comfort a patient even when facing a difficult diagnosis, while poor bedside manner can leave a patient feeling dissatisfied or anxious, from a visit as innocuous as a routine checkup. Big difference. But how does bedside manner apply to business in general? Two words: customer service.
No, a doctor-patient relationship isn’t the same as a vendor-customer relationship, but when it comes to building an effective relationship, many of the same principles apply.
We all have competition. Giving “customers” the best experience possible goes a long way toward securing future business. Whether it’s bedside manner or customer service, here are five ways to demonstrate concern and professionalism to patients and customers:
Give Your Undivided Attention
Attentive time is among the most limited of all of our resources. We often find ourselves splitting time between the people around us and the constant stream of electronic communication from the various devices we can’t live without. As we split time and attention in more ways than ever before, the amount available per person gets smaller and smaller. Reduce the likelihood that the other person feels you’re not really “present” by putting away your devices and giving them your undivided attention. Not only does this demonstrate your professionalism, it shows you value their time as much as they value yours. Don’t worry; those messages, texts, or tweets will all be waiting for you when your appointment is over.
Think for a moment about the variety of ways we communicate with others today: in-person, phone calls, text messages, email, social networking platforms, video-conferencing. The list goes on. While it’s true that some of these methods give us more communicative context than others, nothing is a true replacement for meeting face-to-face. Apple’s Face-Time may come in a close second, but when you can meet in person, do so. Spending time together in-person allows both parties to make the most intense emotional connection with each other. Fewer distractions. Fewer misunderstandings. Better communication.
Build Trust by Keeping Confidences
As more and more of us become accustomed to communicating and sharing personal information through social media, the notions of privacy and trust start to lose their meaning. Real trust is not only earned over time, but it’s earned by each and every opportunity to keep a confidence. Though it might not be spelled out as clearly as the legal obligations of doctor-patient confidentiality, any professional relationship should be built on a foundation of trust. Trust that you’ll do what you say you’ll do. Trust that you won’t share information you shouldn’t share.
Reciprocate in Kind
With the shift from one-to-one communication to the one-to-many stream of social communication, it’s no surprise that society as a whole has shifted to a “me-centric” one-way thinking. Lost is the common courtesy of reciprocating the considerate gestures of others. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have lessened expectations of responding to broadcasted messages. But the type of reciprocity that characterizes strong relationships can’t be demanded of others. By demonstrating thoughtfulness toward others, we can encourage them to respond thoughtfully to us.
Consider the Need for Extra Consideration
As we connect in more distant ways—online or through mobile devices—we may find ourselves becoming less considerate of others without even realizing it. The scarcity of our available time also affects our ability to be considerate, in the sense that consideration means considering the needs, desires, or challenges of others. Considering their situation might take a little extra time, but it can save you a lot of time if you’re focused on what you think they want or need rather than their actual want or need. Consideration is one gift that we don’t necessarily know how to describe, but we recognize when we receive it. And most importantly, we know when we don’t.
The success of any medical practice, or any business for that matter, has and always will come from the ability to create and maintain meaningful relationships. Dealing with more people, more effectively sets you and your business apart from the competition. When you connect with others in a meaningful way, you become valuable resources for each other. The value you provide for each person in your network can extend outward to and from others with whom you are connected.
Whether your goal is to possess a good bedside manner or just deliver plain, old good customer service, these five tips are a great start. Not sure where your strengths or weaknesses lie? Try asking those on the receiving end? Nothing communicates care and concern more than a genuine customer satisfaction survey, even as simple as asking, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”