HEALTHCARE ENVIRONMENT AND CULTURE
Healthcare organizations are under great pressure to provide better services to their patients whereas the cost of medical attention is ever increasing. These organizations have a hard time in trying to meet specific patient needs, be transparent in pricing and quality services, and at the same time trying to minimize costs. For healthcare organizations to survive in these times where competition is so intense and the economy is tough, they must be able to adapt to the current trends where the organization has to be managed strategically just like any other. This is where strategic planning comes into play with a specific emphasis on service strategy.
Service strategy is a coordinated effort that seeks to know where service delivery is wanting in an organization and what can be done not only to address the need but to continuously improve on the existing service provisions to enhance them and keep them abreast with the changing times. A well thought out service strategy is important to the development of a strong service culture. Customer service should be given due attention and be incorporated in an organization strategic plan as one of the objectives and these strategies should be included in the employees goals. This way the customer/patient is supposed to be seen as the most important person in the organization and they should be the sole reason as for the existence of that organization (Genesys, 2008, p. 5).
So how does an organization develop a customer service strategy? The first thing is to know the vision and goal for customer service and communicating this to the employees. The employees then have to be taught customer service skills so as to be professional when dealing with them. The second step is assessing the customer service needs. Data on the customers/ patients has to be collected through avenues like feedback through word of mouth, telephone or email, through customer focus groups, through questionnaires, and customer comment cards. This data is then analyzed to give meaningful information that will be useful to the organization in terms of what they ought to do from the customer’s perspective. The third step would be to hire qualified employees who will be able to advance the customer service strategy. They should posses the right skills, personality, and attitudes to be able to take good care to the customer.
The fourth step is determining customer goals. From the information gathered in step one comes the formulation of the goals necessary to achieve the objectives set out of enhancing customer service. The fifth step is training employees in the necessary skills that will compliment those that they already have. Screening should be done to identify the employees that don’t posses the desirable skills, attitudes and personality necessary to interact positively with patients as this will go a long way in building a strong customer service (Patricia, 2010, para 4). Step six involves accountability on the part of employees with regard to achieving customer satisfaction goals. The employees should be aware of how their performance affects customer service and the entire organization as a whole. This calls for a performance management system to monitor and evaluate employee performance. The seventh and final step involves recognizing and rewarding employees for their good customer service. This helps to motivate them to do even more. It also acts as part of job satisfaction when they know they accomplished their goals. By implementing these we are creating an environment of healing for our patients. All these will help to develop a culture of customer service.
A good service strategy must focus on creating an environment in which our employees feel passionate about their work and the organizations vision. It all has to start from the top management which has to be passionate about delivering quality services (Stephanie, 2010, para 3). The management has to show commitment and consistency towards achieving excellence in customer service. From their leadership, the junior employees will be motivated to follow what their seniors are doing. Service strategy creates a good working environment for employees when the management motivates them by the following ways: by giving them high quality training for them to be competent in handling with customers.
Management has to lead by example by “walking the talk.” The management also has to be approachable by staff by operating an open door policy. The managers have to treat all the workers equally without favor. Good work has to be recognized and rewarded. Workers have to be empowered to deal with the problems of the patients. The management has to ensure there is effective communication and they should be able to listen to the employees and be able to give positive feedback as well as be open-minded. The employees have to be given room to be innovative through various initiatives such as staff suggestion schemes.
For there to be a culture of customer service in our organization there has to be a good working environment and a good relationship between all employees irrespective of their position. Our employees have to feel valued and appreciated by the organization so that they can become motivated and become more productive. Managers should be supportive of their helping staff and they should be ready to assist whenever called upon. Good working relationships are said to be the oil that lubricates the working parts in the organization. Besides a good working environment that produces positive results, other factors, equally important have to be considered like remuneration, reward schemes and opportunities for advancement
Our health organization service strategy is linked to the organizational vision and mission in that it seeks excellence in service provision and customer satisfaction. It is only by ensuring these that our mission of “Providing quality healthcare with a difference” will be achieved as we go in the direction stated in our vision, “To be a world class healthcare organization focused on improving the quality of life for sustainable development.”
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