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To Give Impression of Quality
Many practice teams are well prepared to demonstrate the quality of their dental services in the event of a CQC inspection. It is to be hoped that patients will benefit as a result of their work to develop structured services that conform to a bigger plan. However, in terms of putting patients first we should ask if this is the ideal order of priority. Before 2011 and CQC registration, practices were more focused upon meeting patients needs and expectations than on complying with the Regulations.
Clinical and non clinical customer care is crucial to the growth of any business. If a customer does not get the service that they require they will go somewhere else. In the non-clinical aspects of the patient experience we can maintain high quality care by paying attention to:
- First impressions: The first impression sets the stage for the customer experience. The first impression can come from a phone call, an email or a visit to the practice. Make sure you reach out to patients. Introduce yourself, be positive and be willing to listen to them.
- Human contact: Email can be a convenient way to communicate with patients, but don't hide behind emails. Many patients still prefer to talk with you, so be willing to pick up the phone and return phone calls.
- Treating patients how you would like to be treated in their place: It's the 'golden rule' – do unto others as you would be done by. Be sure that you treat patients with the same respect and courtesy that you would like to encounter. When a customer leaves the practice ask yourself: “If I were treated like that, would I return?"
- Being proactive – Empathise: Don't just wait until someone asks you for help, be willing to be proactive and ask your customers how you may be of service to them.
- It's not what you say it’s the way that you say it! This is true whether it's a phone call or a conversation in person – make sure that you keep your tone friendly yet professional. We can often come across as interrupted, disturbed or angry just by the tone of our response. Always smile when responding, this will ensure that your tone comes across as pleasant and helpful.
- Be willing to find the answers to patients' questions: Patients deserve solutions to their questions and concerns and it's important to always be honest, but never say "I don't know" unless you follow it with "However, I will find out for you."
- Own Up to Mistakes: Mistakes happen. We will never be 100 per cent perfect, so always be willing to own up to your mistakes, apologise and rectify the situation. Let the customer know that you will take care of them and reassure them so that they are willing to return in the future.
Non-clinical patient care has two main functions:
- To ensure that we satisfy the patient;
- To identify and correct shortcomings in our services swiftly.
The development of quality non-clinical patient care means:
- Recognising the needs of staff and patients;
- Defining what needs to be done to meet those needs;
- Planing the procedures and services to meet the needs identified;
- Developing team skills and an understanding of both the team and the patients' needs;
- Measuring results.
All of the above should be part of the quality management processes in your practice.