By Mike Muhney
Good bedside manner can reassure and comfort a patient even when facing a difficult diagnosis, while poor bedside manner can leave a patient feeling dissatisfied or anxious, from a visit as innocuous as a routine checkup. Big difference. But how does bedside manner apply to business in general? Two words: customer service. No, a doctor-patient relationship isn’t the same as a vendor-customer relationship, but when it comes to building an effective relationship, many of the same principles apply.
We all have competition. Giving “customers” the best customer service experience possible goes a long way toward securing future business. Whether it’s bedside manner or customer service, here are three ways to demonstrate concern and professionalism to patients and customers:
1. Give Your Undivided Attention. Attentive time is among the most limited of all of our resources. We often find ourselves splitting time between the people around us and the constant stream of electronic communication from the various devices we can’t live without. As we split time and attention in more ways than ever before, the amount available per person gets smaller and smaller. Reduce the likelihood that the other person feels you’re not really “present” by putting away your devices and giving them your undivided attention. Not only does this demonstrate your professionalism, it shows you value their time as much as they value yours. Don’t worry; those messages, texts, or tweets will all be waiting for you when your appointment is over.
2. Build Trust by Keeping Confidences. As more and more of us become accustomed to communicating and sharing personal information through social media, the notions of privacy and trust start to lose their meaning. Real trust is not only earned over time, but it’s earned by each and every opportunity to keep a confidence. Though it might not be spelled out as clearly as the legal obligations of doctor-patient confidentiality, any professional relationship should be built on a foundation of trust. Trust that you’ll do what you say you’ll do. Trust that you won’t share information you shouldn’t share.
3. Reciprocate in Kind. With the shift from one-to-one communication to the one-to-many stream of social communication, it’s no surprise that society as a whole has shifted to a “me-centric” one-way thinking. Lost is the common courtesy of reciprocating the considerate gestures of others. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have lessened expectations of responding to broadcasted messages. But the type of reciprocity that characterizes strong relationships can’t be demanded of others. By demonstrating thoughtfulness toward others, we can encourage them to respond thoughtfully to us.
The success of any business depends on creating and maintaining meaningful relationships. Dealing with more people, more effectively sets you and your business apart from the competition. When you connect with others in a meaningful way, you become valuable resources for each other. The value you provide for each person in your network can extend outward to and from others with whom you are connected.
Whether your goal is to possess a good bedside manner or just deliver plain, old good customer service, these five tips are a great start. Not sure where your strengths or weaknesses lie? Try asking those on the receiving end? Nothing communicates care and concern more than a genuine customer satisfaction survey, even as simple as asking, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
Mike Muhney, co-inventor of ACT!, is now the co-founder of VIPorbit (@VIPorbit), creators of the first-ever contact management suite designed specifically for Mac, iPhone and iPad. Learn more at viporbit.com.