We know great customer service when we see it. Enthusiastic, proactive, and caring experiences with companies and individuals. They provide comforts we didn\’t realize we wanted and solutions to problems we didn\’t even know existed. These excellent customer service experiences are what turn a one-time customer into a lifelong advocate. It\’s what sets you apart from your competition.

Yet most companies view proactive customer service measures as an additional cost, not as an added benefit. Their default approach to customer service is to respond to problems as they arise. This reactive method might satisfy the customer (if you\’re lucky), but it won\’t surprise or delight them. It\’s a clear sign of a \’forgettable\’ experience.

Customer service precedents are set by the greats. Take The Ritz Carlton\’s mantra: \’anticipate unexpressed needs.\’ For The Ritz, a great customer service experience is not about reacting to the client but being aware and alert and offering help, education and services before they are needed. They call this the \’Radar on – Antenna up\’ approach.

Now imagine in your practice, if you could enhance convenience and comfort. If you could solve concerns before patients had to call you. Or even better, if you could address their issues before they even became aware of them. This proactive approach is not only possible, it\’s profitable.

Statistics show that over two-thirds of consumers would be willing to spend more with a company – 13% more, on average – following an excellent customer service experience. In a like yet far comparison, 55% of customers would cease buying from a company that provides poor customer service(The 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer).

On the internal side, companies who consistently score higher in customer service value, experience higher employee morale and dramatically lower employee turnover.

Question of the hour .How do you enhance customer service with your practice? By enhancing the customer service culture of your practice, that\’s how!

Building a superior service culture is more than only focusing on upgrading your service performance. It\’s actually improving the quality of service inside the organization, from colleague to colleague. It\’s a top-down approach that empowers your staff to go above and beyond. Start with the way you engage with each other, then with your clients. Respect internally equals admiration externally – your patients will notice.

This service culture mindset is something that should be considered right off the bat, when hiring staff to become part of your team. Finding someone who has the spirit to serve is important. Make sure that you ask key questions throughout the interview process which will help you identify these special traits. Stress importance of this mindset in your practice to potential hires.

Proper training is also extremely important. It\’s what empowers your employees with the knowledge of what true customer service really is. Don\’t assume that your employees understand great customer service from life experiences or past jobs – teach them what your practice considers superior service and give them the tools they need to achieve it.

Reward outstanding employee performance with incentives. Make your employees take ownership in the job that they do by incentivizing them when they have shown outstanding service without being asked or required to do so.

We might be medical practitioners, but face it; we\’re in the customer service business. It\’s not the type of service we offer, but the quality that matters. Make sure your team shares the same mindset towards offering every single patient a unique, memorable and personable experience. You can\’t buy the power of positive word of mouth. You have to earn it!

Remember, you don\’t have the option to decide what your competitors are going to do. IF you want service to become your competitive differentiator; IF you want your patients to pay what you believe your service is worth – and that\’s top dollar, then don\’t wait for somebody else to do it first. You need to lead and there\’s no better time to start than today!