All the Difference in the World: The Value of Excellent Customer Service
By Lynn Bell-Davis, Provider Relations Representative at Behavioral Health Professionals, Inc.
I was reminded of the importance of excellent customer service recently. I pulled into the drive-thru at a local fast food restaurant. Rather than greeting me in the standard, friendly manner, I am accustomed to being greeted in, the employee unenthusiastically said, “whenever you’re ready.” This wasn’t polite or professional, but I probably would not have made much of it, if it wasn’t for what happened next. I drove around to get my order and I was told I had to wait for fries. I waited almost 5 minutes before another disinterested employee slowly delivered them, without any sense of urgency. This employee handed the bag of fries to me without a single word. No “sorry for the wait” or even “here are your fries.”
I filled out a survey expressing my concerns about the lack of customer service. But the bottom line is that they lost a customer. This illustrates the difference between good customer service and poor customer service. Had the girl who brought me my fries told me she was sorry for the wait and my inconvenience, or even handed me my fries and said “have a great day” my overall experience would have been different. Expressing empathy for the customer can make all the difference in the world.
I work in the behavioral health industry, and this incident reminded me just how important good customer service is. Customers come in many forms, and it is good to think of any professional interaction in which there is an exchange of service or information as an opportunity for good customer service.
In behavioral health, in particular, it is critical that we focus on the consumer. As individuals working in managed behavioral healthcare, we don’t always know the issues that our consumers are dealing with. The more friendly, helpful, and compassionate we are, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to help the consumer receive the services needed. Sensitivity to the needs of consumers is the single most critical aspect of customer service in the managed behavioral health field. In my role as a Provider Relations representative, it is essential to demonstrate excellent customer service. I am the liaison between BHPI and our providers, so I always try to understand their unique challenges and concerns so that I can be an excellent partner and advocate.
There are three key ways that I demonstrate customer service:
Respect is the foundation of customer service. Treating your customers with respect is a sure fire way to make your interaction enjoyable for the both of you. Being polite at all times (especially when frustrated), saying please and thank you, never raising your voice, and thanking every person for their time are sure-fire ways to show respect to your customers/clients.
Listening, understanding, and responding
Often, we listen to respond, and not to understand where other people are coming from. This can make it difficult to fully help our customers and make them feel confident that we have their best interest in mind. Listening, understanding, and then responding can be done by showing empathy, treating others the way you’d like to be treated, apologizing when someone has been inconvenienced and reassuring your customers/clients that you are there to help.
An Attitude of Service
When you are in business, you make a promise to your customers/clients about the type of experience they will have with your company. Excellent customer service is fulfilling those promises. Be sure to follow up and return calls/emails in a timely manner; go the extra mile for your customers. Taking responsibility for your customers’ experience, and being empowered to help them show that you value them and that you are committed to serving them.
Each of these elements is essential for superior customer service. Remember, each person you come into contact provides an opportunity to provide great service and let them know they are appreciated. If you treat your customers the way you want to be treated, you will be on the way to providing excellent customer service. Putting the focus on the customer will increase your effectiveness, boost company’s reputation, and make people feel valued.
About Lynn Bell-Davis
Lynn Bell-Davis is a Provider Relations Representative at BHPI. She studied Medical Office Management at the National Institute of Technology. Her past positions at The Detroit Medical Center and E.U. Inc., have helped her become a customer service superstar and she is happy to use those skills in her role building strong relationships at BHPI. Lynn loves serenity and quiet time.
About Behavioral Health Professionals, Inc.:
Established in 2002 and headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, BHPI is a Managed Behavioral Health Organization offering behavioral health services through a fully integrated network of world-class healthcare providers. Our emphasis is on adding value for our customers by offering expert behavioral care management, medical coordination, and behavioral disease and chronic behavioral condition management. BHPI offers collaborative solutions by building strong partnerships with health plans, health systems, community mental health organizations, and employer groups. For more information visit:BHPI.org