skip to main content

Using Customer Service to Enhance Your Practice

by Corporate Relations and Business Strategies Staff

Clients seek psychological services to deal with difficult issues. The little hassles — finding your office, figuring out their co-payment — can put additional barriers in their path. By providing your patients with a more positive experience with the small things, you can hit the ground running, free to focus on delivering high-quality services.

Here are some ways to incorporate customer service into your practice.

Accessibility

When choosing office space, remember that you can remove barriers to your professional services by making your office easily accessible. For example, having adequate parking available and good access to public transportation helps clients get to your office for the services they need. Regardless of where your office is located, safe and well-lighted parking areas can help address clients’ safety concerns.

Be sure your office is accessible to clients with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs. Information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Regulations for Businesses is available online.

If your practice is located in an office park or professional building, are there clear signs to help visitors find your office? Good signage is crucial. Those walking in to the lobby should be able to easily locate your office.

Before they even get to the lobby, clients can find your office without difficulty when directions are available on your practice Web site. These can include maps and, if applicable, instructions on reaching your office via public transportation. In addition, staff at the reception desk should be able to provide clear, consistent directions to your office.

You should be just as accessible. Provide office hours that are convenient for your clientele and feasible for you. Making yourself available to clients during early morning, evening or weekend hours can set you apart from your competitors. It may also help your clients attend regularly while still fulfilling their other obligations.

Office Environment

Your office environment should be consistent with the professional image you want to convey. Consider further developing your professional image.

In addition, you may wish to take a look at your office space and ask yourself if it is appropriate for the services you provide (for example, large enough for family or group therapy, or quiet and without distractions if you provide assessments).

Is your waiting room welcoming? Are your magazines dog-eared or in good condition? Are there washable toys available for children? Is there adequate and comfortable seating and does lighting, music and décor help create a soothing aesthetic?

Staff

Good communication and listening skills are not just for psychologists. Your staff is often the first point of contact for a new client. Having well-trained, knowledgeable and courteous staff members can greatly enhance your clients’ experience.

Clients who find dealing with their insurance confusing will be thankful for a staff member who can clearly explain co-payments and deductibles. Having someone available at your reception desk to spend the time assisting clients with such health insurance issues could be a selling point for your practice.

Cross-training your staff in various tasks can help keep your office working smoothly at all times, even when an employee calls out sick or is running late. In addition to keeping the office efficient, cross-training staff makes for a more varied and interesting work day for staff members — and helps them understand as well as appreciate the efforts of their co-workers.

Understand Your Target Clientele

Using the information you gather about your target clientele can help you shape how you connect to, communicate with and engage them. For example, if your target clientele is Web-savvy, you may wish to increase the services available via your Web site, including allowing clients to make appointments online.

Consider surveying your clients on their level of satisfaction with your practice and services, their experience in interacting with staff, convenience of available appointment times and facility cleanliness. Use the resulting data to identify areas in need of development and make regular improvements as indicated. Let clients know you are listening by addressing concerns they raise and by implementing realistic suggestions.

In addition, developing an awareness of cultural values — such as reliance on family support systems, collective decision making, spirituality and respect for peers — is paramount in reaching out to diverse populations.

There are now more resources at your fingertips when dealing with Spanish-speaking patients. During the spring of 2007, the APA public education campaign launched a new Spanish-language website. The consumer-oriented site, which mirrors the APA Help Center, offers information about a variety of psychological and emotional health issues pertaining to work, family, relationships, schools and disasters.

 

Date created: 2008