Customer service is often thought of in terms of retail, restaurants and hotels. Consumers are paying for a product or service and representatives are there to aid in the process, providing every courtesy possible. Excellent service is demanded from all areas, from plumbing to cable installation. With companies competing for consumers loyalty, the need for exceptional service has never been more important.

This also holds true for consumers looking at healthcare, whether it be home healthcare or an assisted living facility. Customer service becomes even MORE important because of the added emotional value that is involved. Families want to know that their loved ones are going to be placed with people that care for them and not just show up to do a job. In this sense, consumers are not “shopping” out of desire, but out of necessity making decisions even harder to make.

Home healthcare and assisted living employees offer more than the service of physically caring for their patient.  More often than not, they become an emotional support for the resident and possibly their families.  Employees could care for a patient for years, during which time a bond develops, often leading quality healthcare employees to go above and beyond the duties of their job. It is not unheard of that workers will visit their patients outside of work hours to play a game of cards or take a quick walk. This is where you find the biggest difference in traditional retail customer service and healthcare customer service.

In order to offer successful service in this industry, attention needs to be paid to the following areas:

Employee hiring and training – No amount of training will help if the wrong person is hired for this type of job. Similarly, even the best candidates will lack the guidance needed to provide the best possible care if quality training is not made available.
Employee motivation and advancement – While most enter the healthcare field out of a strong desire to help others, employees still need to feel valued in the work they do and know that their efforts will not go unrewarded. Those looking to advance their career in this industry need to know there are options available.
Managerial support and resources – Delivering the best possible care will only happen when financial and human resources are made a priority by management. Lacking in these assets can cause poor morale, making employee retention a challenge.

Customer service is the foundation for all successful businesses. In healthcare and assisted living, employees turn customer service into customer relationships.

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