Staff Development

Ask the Experts: Customer Service

October 5, 2016 4:36 pm

Our hospital is focusing on patient satisfaction, but I also believe that attitude of service should be reflected within our finance department and how we serve our internal customers (other hospital departments) in addition to our external customers (patients). Can you suggest a few strategies, types of training, etc., that can instill a passion for service inside and outside our dept?

Answer: AIDET is a nationally recognized training that facilities are implementing. The training consists of five steps to achieve satisfaction among internal and external customers and stakeholders―acknowledge, introduce, duration, explanation, thank you.

AIDET is a framework to communicate with patients and their families as well as with each other. It is a simple acronym that represents a very powerful way to communicate with people who are often nervous, anxious, and feeling vulnerable. Although most of the examples below focus on patient interactions, AIDET can also be used to communicate effectively with other staff and colleagues, especially when we are providing an internal service.

Acknowledge. Greet people with a smile and use their names if you know them. Attitude is everything. Create a lasting impression by using language in the following examples.

  • “Good morning/afternoon, Ms. Jones. We’ve been expecting you and we’re glad you are here.”
  • “Good morning/afternoon, Mr. Smith. Welcome to [name of hospital]. We want to make your visit as convenient as possible. Would you please take a moment to confirm that we have your most current information?”

Introduce. Introduce yourself to others politely. Tell them who you are and how you are going to help them. Escort people where they need to go rather than pointing or giving directions. The following examples illustrate these concepts.

  • “My name is Susan, and I will be conducting your test today. I am a certified ultrasonographer, and I do about six of these procedures a day. The doctors say that my skills are among the best. Do you have any questions for me?”
  • “Mrs. Smith, you will be seeing Dr. Jones today. He is an excellent physician. He is very good at listening and answering patient questions. You are fortunate that he is your physician.”
  • “Mr. White, Dr. Williams would like you to have an X-ray in our radiology department. We have an excellent team of radiology technicians who use state-of-the-art equipment. I’m confident you will have a great experience.”

Duration. Keep in touch to ease waiting times. Let others know if there is a delay and how long it will be. Make it better and apply service recovery methods when necessary such as the following example.

  • “Dr. Jones had to attend an emergency. He was concerned about you and wanted you to know that it may be 30 minutes before he can see you. Are you able to wait, or would you like me to schedule an appointment for tomorrow?”

Explanation. Advise others about what you are doing, how procedures work, and whom to contact if patients or internal customers need assistance. Communicate any steps they may need to take. Make words work. Talk, listen, and learn. Make time to help and communicate your willingness to assist by using language such as the following.

  • “The test takes about 30 minutes. The first step is to drink this solution. Then we’ll have you wait 20 minutes before we take a blood sample. Would you like to read while you wait?”

Thank you. Thank somebody. Foster an attitude of gratitude. Thank people for their patronage, help, or assistance. Use reward and recognition tools. For example, the following expressions of gratitude can make a difference in interactions with patients and colleagues.

  • “Thank you for choosing our hospital. It has been a privilege to care for you.”
  • “Thank you for your call. Is there anything else I can do for you? I have the time.”

This question was answered by: Caswell Samms, III, network CFO, Health & Hospital Corporation.

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