5 customer service lessons to boost patient satisfaction

A nurse-driven, investigative approach to customer service helped nurses at Grady Memorial Hospital's emergency department boost patient satisfaction and improve interdepartmental communication, according to Advance Healthcare Network for Nurses.

Emergency room nurses, who treat approximately 10,000 patients every month at the urban safety-net academic hospital in Atlanta, created a five-step customer service initiative to act out broad scenarios while moderators gave them challenges they'd encounter in an everyday setting, according to the article.

After implementing the class in late 2012, the hospital saw noticeable increases in patient satisfaction ratings, and expanded the program to reach about 95 percent of ED nurses and more than 40 attending emergency physicians, the article said.

The activity created an interactive environment for staff members to share experiences, highlight challenges and share solutions or success approaches. Interactive games and scenario stations helped staff members learn the following lessons:

  1. Don't break the chain: Know the chain of command for handling customer complaints, employee disputes or interdepartmental changes.

  2. Collect evidence: Recognize non-verbal cues from patients and families by observing and anticipating patient needs.

  3. Promote teamwork: Remember to use all available resources and interdepartmental collaborative programs, and communicate efficiently even in stressful situations.

  4. Communicate: Acknowledge the importance of frequent and appropriate communication with patients and family members, and consider patients' perception of the interactions.

  5. DNA (Don't Negative Answer): Realize the importance of phone etiquette, especially when directing people to and around the hospital.

Hospital leaders and department heads must encourage this kind of creativity on the part of nurses and staff, and recognize successful ventures like those seen at Grady Memorial with accolades and praise, according to the article. 

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