Through your patients’ eyes

If you run an office – whether it’s a medical practice or not – taking a regular look at how customers access your services can be a valuable lesson. A “mystery shopper” may help identify obstacles or give advice for improvements.

A recent seminar by consultant and author Kris Baird gave specific examples (and showed the crazy photos of real-life instances) of what not to do in terms of customer service. She suggested medical practices examine themselves in seven areas:

The one that got away

Does your practice consider the experience before someone arrives for the first time? Are your phone system and website up to date and easy to navigate? Should the website give office hours so a potential caller knows when to best contact you?

Most of us don’t realize how many customers leave before they even enter our systems.

You never get a second chance

Does your physical environment reflect your level of quality? Baird presented an insightful picture that showed the spaces reserved for disabled people outside an office were further down the sidewalk than the spots reserved for doctors.

We’re glad you’re here

If the first message that greets customers is a list of rules and regulations, they may not feel welcomed. Creating a welcoming reception isn’t expensive – it simply takes the right folks who understand eye contact.

He said what?

In often anxious situations like medical settings, the friendly banter of staff may need to be reserved for the break room.

Worth a thousand words

If everything speaks, what messages do your customers get by seeing cluttered bulletin boards or overflowing garbage bins? Little things can be perceived as lack of quality.

Doctors, PAs, technicians, referral coordinators and more…

With the complexity of medical offices, most of us who visit them don’t know the roles anymore. Are all these folks on the same page in terms of instilling confidence in your processes?

Out the door

What is the last thing a customer hears, sees or feels at the end of the encounter? Key words at key times can make a lasting impression.

Looking at ourselves isn’t easy. Mystery shopping is not intended to judge clinical competency but rather how patients feel about the encounter. Wouldn’t it be ideal if everything about the customer encounter instilled trust that we are delivering on the promise of safe, high-quality health care?


Chad Dillard leads marketing and communications efforts for Southwest Washington Health System. He can be reached at or 360-514-7263.