Service-driven, customer-focused businesses, such as airlines, hotels and restaurants, tend to have measurable performance standards for employees. The following is an example from a West Coast, seafood-restaurant chain:
- The server speaks to a patron within two minutes of seating.
- The beverage service is at the table within four minutes of an order.
- The entree is served within 16 minutes of an order.
- The check is presented within four minutes after dessert (or after plates are cleared if no dessert is ordered).
- Cash or credit cards are picked up within two minutes of being placed on the table.
Such measurable performance standards are far more meaningful and motivational than simply instructing servers to provide "good service." They ensure promptness and delight restaurant patrons. They also provide a benchmark against which an employee`s on-the-job performance can be measured.
Does your practice have comparable standards for such tasks as answering the telephone, greeting patients and maintaining your appointment schedule? Or, are employees allowed to just "wing it," with the hope that things will go smoothly and patients are pleased?
To make your practice more service-driven and patient-focused, consider holding staff meetings to establish performance standards for such matters as:
- How many times should the phone ring before it is answered?
- How long should patients be kept "on hold" before offering to call them back?
- How soon should a patient be acknowledged after entering the office? Is it different if the receptionist is on the phone at the time-or doing paperwork?
- How long should patients be kept waiting beyond their appointment time before someone touches base to explain the delay, apologizes or offers a beverage or use of a phone?
- How long should patients be kept waiting (alone) in the operatory before someone touches base, apologizes or offers to get a magazine?
Consider, also, establishing performance standards for other office tasks and services-making them as quantifiable and/or qualifiable as possible. The discussion, alone, will heighten everyone`s awareness of how important "good service" is in today`s highly-competitive, time-pressured environment. Meeting such standards will put your practice miles ahead of the pack.
Bob Levoy is a marketing consultant, seminar speaker and writer based in Roslyn, NY. For further information, contact: Success Dynamics, Inc., 11 Vanad Dr., Roslyn, NY 11576; phone 516-482-5959.