Compared with business leaders, doctors are in a difficult spot when it comes to how success is measured. In business, making the right decision at least part of the time can lead to a profitable enterprise. If you’re right more than half the time, you’re often considered a Bill Gates type of genius. But if you’re a doctor, you can lose your license by being right only half the time. Clinically and surgically speaking, that’s poor medicine. This partly explains why doctors tend to be risk-averse and conservative in decision making.
But when it comes to customer service in the medical practice, mistakes are going to be made just like they are in every industry. These can be thought of as service defects when the delivery of service does not go as planned. Sometimes it’s the fault of staff, equipment, weather or the customer who’s late for their appointment or forgets to bring an item needed.
While it’s good to set up processes and protocols to avoid service failures, it’s even better to have plans in place for when they do happen. This is known as service recovery, and when implemented, it can have surprising results.
Marriott and other hotel chains understand how to manage service recovery and with good reason. Customer surveys clearly demonstrate that their ability to respond to a service failure ends up leaving the customer more satisfied and more loyal than if the failure had never happened.
Known as the service recovery paradox, this phenomenon speaks to the truth that every failure presents an opportunity.
What this means is that every medical practice has the potential to turn those unwitting service defects into an asset that builds customer satisfaction, patient loyalty and practice value. Indeed, it seems a high time to encourage your customers to complain!
Disclosure: As president of SM2 Strategic, Mahdavi can be reached via his firm’s website www.sm2strategic.com or office 925-425-9900.
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