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The Importance of Customer Service in Healthcare Essay

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Introduction
Program Attended

The title of the in-service training program attended was ‘Why is customer service important in healthcare?’ It was held on 28th September 2018. The location of the training was the Brooklyn Hospital Center, and the presenter was the Nurse Educator. The time framework for the program was between 9 am, and 11 am on October 5th, 2018.

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Target Audience

The audience comprised of RNs, nurse aides, and nursing students. The objective of the training session was to explain why customer service is a crucial component of quality care. It was presented in an auditorium with an audience of over 100 nurses. Since the professional background of the audience was nursing, the subject was clinically relevant, and the nurses could grasp essential concepts. It comprised of nurses of different ages, both genders, and a minimum BSN degree.

Philosophy Statement or Vision Statement

The presentation included a customer-service philosophy statement that encompassed three aspects: being there for the patient, lighten their day, and have a positive attitude. The presenter urged nurses to be compassionate listeners in order to provide patient-centered service. She envisioned a polite, friendly staff that relate to each patient in recognition of the diversity of healthcare needs in clinical settings.

Program Objectives/Stated Goals

The presenter stated the learning objectives for the teaching program. She noted that by the end of the training session;

the audience should be able to articulate the importance of excellent customer service in healthcare.
the nursing staff should be able to identify different approaches to customer service throughout the patient care process.
Physical Setting

The training was held at the Brooklyn Hospital Center Auditorium. The environment was appropriately prepared for the teaching session. The physical setup of the room from the layout, heating, and audio-visual equipment was ideal for the training. The seating arrangement could allow trainee interaction and improved engagement and focus.

Presentation Design
Evidence of Use of Learning Paradigm/Approach/Model

The Nurse Educator built on basic concepts on customer service procedures first before leading the audience to a self-directed learning orientation. Further, consistent with the andragogy mode, the session centered on real-life hospital context, not on discrete topics. The presenter stressed the connections between inpatient experience and satisfaction scores to elicit critical inquiry into what constitutes quality care from the perspective of the patient. The teaching approach involved greater participant involvement augmented by instructor explanations. She prompted the audience to give poor customer service encounters at the facility and suggest improvements.

Greater audience engagement by the instructor was evidence of active learning. She encouraged participants to reflect on customer service scenarios in a role-playing kind of environment and group collaboration. Each individual was required to articulate his/her comprehension of the material during the training session. The active learning approach ensured a deeper understanding of the subject since participants could give their reasoning to the audience and acquire customer service skills to apply in their practice. Enhanced peer interactions and exchanges with the instructor provided an ideal environment for addressing misconceptions about the subject matter.

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Domains of Learning Addressed

The training and its delivery were designed to appeal mainly to the cognitive and affective areas of learning. The aim was to enhance recall and practice application of approaches to excellent customer service as well as sensitivity to patient needs. There was a clear instruction intended to improve specific cognitive functions of “knowledge, comprehension, and application” (Bluestone et al., 2013, p. 15).

Using illustrations and tasks, the nurse educator explained the nature of customer service, the customers, i.e., patients, families, and communities, and healthcare as a business to facilitate recall, understanding, and application of the material learned in practice. She indicated that nurses could give excellent customer service by being personable and relatable and by using appropriate language when communicating with the patient/family.

The affective domain centers on feelings or emotions (Bluestone et al., 2013). Through participation and responses, it was possible to receive, integrate, and internalize the values of excellent customer service. Explanations about the connection between patient experience and HCAPS scores enhanced the willingness and commitment to compassionate care and effective communication with patients. Practical examples were used to promote recall and appeal to the affective domain of the participants.

Teaching Strategies/Program Delivery Methods Used by the Presenter

The presenter used a Socratic seminar to keep all participants involved in learning. This instructional strategy entails the use of questions and answers to engage learners in whole-class discussions (Bluestone et al., 2013). The presenter asked open-ended questions on what patients want when they are likely to complete hospital surveys, common complaints, and the nurses’ role in ensuring excellent customer service to patients/family. To enhance engagement, participants were given an opportunity to respond and build on one another’s ideas. Problem-based learning was another delivery method used. In this case, the presenter gave a practical example of poor patient interaction and required participants to suggest changes to ensure excellent customer service.

Other more traditional delivery strategies were also used to pass information. One such method included a lecture that involved slide-shows and videos in illustrating customer service concepts and their application. The presenter also referred to cases of patients with low educational level and required participants to brainstorm appropriate language or communication approach to the scenario. Discussions were encouraged to foster customer management skills and address biases and other barriers to productive interactions with the patient. The presenter also used visual aids and supplementary handouts to assist in learner retention.

Management Skills of the Presenter

The presentation reflected mastery of delivery and content. Additionally, the presenter had good management skills concerning both the use of self and time. The material was delivered in an organized manner and a clear speech. She exhibited a high level of awareness, composure, stage presence, enthusiasm, and connection with the audience. She did not appear nervous, which was a sign of adequate preparation.

She started by introducing herself before delving into the subject. The participants were actively engaged throughout the presentation, and sufficient time was allowed for a question and answer session at the end. The presenter used eye contact to keep the audience engaged and gauge our understanding of the subject matter. Her glances shifted between the audiovisual content and the crowd.

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Her movements and body language on the stage communicated energy and confidence. Her gestures were natural and matched the words. When illustrating a point, she varied the pitch and volume of her voice to stress key concepts of customer service. She also paused occasionally to increase focus and transition between ideas. Effective management of time was a hallmark of the presentation. The presenter delivered the content within the indicated period. The question-and-answer session was also well managed. She anticipated and gave brief responses to the questions posed in a way that directed the critical points of the presentation.

Evidence of Presenter Appropriate Skill Base

The presenter exhibited great mastery and in-depth knowledge of the subject. There was a logical flow of concepts. She framed healthcare as a customer service impacted by nurse-patient interactions during routine exams, assessment, and treatment. It became clear that patients are customers who can prefer one provider to another because of the quality of care received. For this reason, hospitals and units must offer excellent customer service to gain a competitive edge over others and benefit from HCAPS-linked reimbursement. She indicated that rudeness and long waits are key reputational risks to a facility that affect customer satisfaction. Therefore, the presenter was able to make connections between poor customer service, quality of care, and HCAPS ratings.

There was evidence of in-depth research and preparation. The presenter outlines the top four factors that contribute to high HCAPS scores as the courtesy during treatment, adequate information and explanation, timely care, and cleanliness.

She also listed some common customer complaints about the quality of service, including rude staff, dirty hospital, long waits, and delayed responses to call bells. She concluded the presentation by giving evidence-based recommendations for improving customer service, which included being personable and relatable to the patients, use of appropriate language based on patient age and educational level, and showing compassion. The presenter gave a summary of the session and a recap of the main points, which helped enhance learner retention of the content.

Use of Evidence-based Practice/Theory

The presentation included evidence-based practice recommendations for personal and process changes that could lead to better care provision. From the delivery, the techniques that nurses can use to ensure excellent customer service are listening, using touch, making eye contact. Using a language that a patient can understand when passing medical information and showing compassion in your communication is also important.

Patient-involvement in their care is another evidence-based recommendation for improving customer service indicated in the presentation. The speaker stated that nurses should offer patients a choice, consider their preferences, involve them in care planning, and be sensitive to socioeconomic and cultural factors specific to each case.

The theoretical foundations of excellent customer service were included in the delivery. The inclusion of hospital experience surveys in the HCAPS metrics and the rationale for using them to compare hospitals were explained. In this regard, a business case was made for customer service excellence at the facility and practice levels. It would contribute to a better inpatient experience, which would result in a higher HCAPS rating, facility reputation, and reimbursements. Change frameworks were also alluded to in the presentation. The speaker indicated that training programs help equip employees with customer service skills to trigger and sustain a patient-centered culture in hospitals.

Use of Supplemental Materials

Supplemental materials were utilized to increase the efficiency of teaching. The content was segmented into sections augmented by supplementary video content. For example, appropriate multimedia embedded in the presentation were used to explain the nature of customer service and how to prioritize patient needs. Other supplementary materials used included simulations and case studies. The presenter gave real-life scenarios of customer service as a supplement to the presentation. She also gave questions to guide further deliberations on the discussion board.

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Links to additional study materials and open-access resources on customer service were included to supplement the training materials. Short online modules illustrating how to interact with patients throughout the care process were also provided. Additionally, the presenter listed the blogs where participants could obtain structured information on improving customer service in a hospital setup. She also indicated that the learners could benefit from specific sites offering computer-graded quizzes.

Use of Audiovisual Aids

Audiovisual aids enhance the pedagogical efficacy of presentations. Examples include simulations, slides, and handouts that help clarify information and promote recall. The speaker used slides projected to a whiteboard to reduce the subject matter into themes. The strategy also helped her deliver content in a sequential and organized manner. Simulations embedded in the presentation slides helped augment critical aspects of customer service in healthcare.

Overall, the audiovisual aids used supplemented the speaker’s words. They were well-designed to appeal to “visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners” without causing any significant distraction (Bluestone et al., 2013, p. 21). The slides were written in an appropriate font, consistency, and contrasting color shades that enhanced their readability even from the back of the auditorium.

Another audiovisual aid used included short videos explaining various aspects of customer service, such as why customer needs should come first and how to show compassion when caring or communicating with the patient. Other multimedia features such as custom animations were used to transition between slides and increase participants focus on the subject. The presenter simultaneously interacted with these tools and the audience, which enhanced the efficacy of the audiovisuals.

Legal, Ethical, and Regulatory Factors Related to this Presentation

Linking customer service to HCAPS survey scores is growing in the era of value-based purchasing. From a legal standpoint, lawsuits over medical malpractice are more likely to arise if the patient is dissatisfied with the interpersonal aspects of care than when he/she is satisfied. Therefore, a greater focus on customer service is required to ensure a better inpatient experience. Ethical factors pertinent to this presentation include penalties for low HCAPS that may force providers to avoid vulnerable populations with complex needs and biased patient reporting or evaluation of customer service. Thus, a greater focus on hospital experience alone may increase disparities and community health outcomes.

Among the regulatory factors related to subjective patient experience and expectations from a healthcare service is the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under this legislation, hospitals with excellent customer service, as indicated by reported HCAPS scores, qualify for financial incentives that are tied to quality. On the other hand, those with low patient experience scores are penalized through the withholding of Medicare payouts. Hospitals with high HCAPS numbers have better patient engagement or customer service mechanisms than those with low scores. Thus, ACA rewards providers based on patients’ ratings of the interpersonal aspects of the care received.

Cultural Competence

The presenter showed sensitivity to cultural differences in the audience. She used culturally appropriate language to explain the significance and approaches to customer service. She used technical words and nursing concepts, which were appropriate for the audience’s literacy level. Her communication skills were suited to the level of expertise of the participants. The speaker seemed to be aware of cultural assumptions and biases over the significance of customer service to overall hospital performance.

She addressed these misconceptions and explained that inpatient experience is an indicator of quality. She also used team resources to address cultural dissimilarities in the audience. The session facilitated active engagement and learning, which allowed participants to give their perspectives in a whole-class discussion.

The printed training materials and audiovisuals were designed for in-service customer service training of nurses. Thus, they were suited to the literacy level of the audience, as no participant complained that the content was difficult to understand. Culturally appropriate videos and pictures were embedded in the teaching materials. They reflected a broad spectrum of customer service scenarios that were not neutral and inoffensive to the participants. The speaker also responded to questions respectfully and considered the great diversity of perspectives and views in the audience.

Evaluation Methodologies

The evaluation methods utilized as a part of this presentation included assessment of learning and audience feedback. The presenter prompted the participants to indicate if the session was useful, challenging, or well-organized through a short post-training evaluation survey. The qualitative feedback from the audience helped the presenter gauge if the trainees enjoyed the training. However, it was not possible to tell which specific aspects of the presentation the participants understood as this methodology focuses on the entire session. It was also qualitative, and thus, was not an objective measure of the audience’s perceptions of the program. The presenter also used verbal feedback from the audience to evaluate the presentation.

Assessment of learning was used to measure the participants’ understanding of the importance of customer service after the training. A post-training survey was administered to assess if there was an improvement in skills due to the presentation. However, the assessment involved self-reported knowledge gains, not objective measures.

Summary

Overall Effectiveness

In general, the presentation was well-designed, and the delivery style was excellent, contributing to the effectiveness of the program. The training goals were clear and meaningful, and the presenter emphasized key points – customer service, patient satisfaction, and the role of nurses – to enhance the learning experience and retention. The purpose of the teaching was defined, and the speaker demonstrated in-depth knowledge of the subject. The content was also relevant to the participants. Personally, the utilization of visual aids enhanced my learning and involvement in the training.

Recommendations

The presentation could be improved further by including real-life demonstrations and role-playing to illustrate customer service problems and how to resolve them. Assigning small tasks to groups during the sessions can also enhance engagement and reflective learning experiences. Additionally, offering the training in real-life settings such as a ward or department can improve critical thinking and use of customer service concepts in practice. Pre- and post-training surveys should be used to compare knowledge gains to baseline skill levels.

Strongest Messages

As an attendee, I learned the link between customer service and patient satisfaction with care and how it affects HCAPS scores. I also understood that patients want courtesy, information/explanations, timely care, and cleanliness. Nurses, being the caregivers with direct patient contact, can ensure excellent customer service by being relatable, using appropriate language, and showing compassion. As a future nurse educator, I learned the strategies of effective professional presentation and delivery skills such as active audience involvement through audio-visual aids and open-ended questions.

Reference

Bluestone, J., Johnson, P., Fullerton, J., Carr, C., Alderman, J., & BonTempo, J. (2013). Effective in-service training design and delivery: Evidence from an integrative literature review. Human Resources for Health, 11(51), 1-26. Web.

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