Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Doctors Receptionists - Customer Service Professionals!

After taking soundings from 'customers' of Simplicity Blog I will intersperse Friends of Simplicity Interviews with my own reflections.

In the last 5 weeks I’ve delivered 12 training workshops on various topics including confidentiality and customer service. The participants are front line employees in healthcare - mainly receptionists in doctors surgeries.

In the 4 years since I left the NHS I’ve met many hundreds of front line healthcare employees in the training environment. I really enjoy working with them and often leave training sessions feeling inspired and very proud that we have so many motivated people doing a challenging job for which there is often little thanks.

During my 35 year career in healthcare I met thousands of front line healthcare employees and always felt the same.

Many of the participants of the recent training workshops are receptionists working in doctor’s surgeries. There are many myths about these key professionals who are a crucial part of the healthcare team. The image sometimes created of the receptionist is that of a ‘dragon’ who is only interested in making the life of the patient as difficult as possible. This is a complete myth; it is sad and a very unfair stereotype.

All of the receptionists I’ve met in the last 4 years are conscientious professionals who desperately want to do a great job for the patient.

They have a very difficult job acting as the ‘middle person’ between the doctor and the patient. They are quite often pulled two ways and they invariably find themselves the bearers of bad news such as ‘I’m sorry I can’t give you an appointment today.’

Today I want to promote the receptionists in Primary Care as key customer service professionals who are often misunderstood and unfairly judged.

Take a bow - there are thousands of you around the country doing an absolutely brilliant job.


Anonymous said...

When we find ourselves powerless as a customer we tend to blame the first thing we see. Unfortunately that is usually a customer service professional who may have even less control over the problem than we do. Direct your frustration in the right direction and you may find these front line workers can point you towards the real bottlenecks and even the best pressure points to get what you need.

Anonymous said...

To all those adminstrators, counter personnel, teachers and care providers that perform a thankless job, in many cases (not all), for the entire planet:

Thank you, thank you, and thank you. As the economies of the world spin out of control because of endless greed, corruption, and scandal, many of us are beginning to once again see the tremedous value in employees that "do the work". The great thinkers, the almond infeeders, have taken us down a path of darkness and despair...many people are feeling the pinch.

However, I take great pride in knowing the people behind the scenes helping to serve clients, employees, and those in need (soup kitchens, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and church administration). Behind every good boss, priest, supervisor, and person of power, there is an even better professional enabling success!!!!!!

Trevor Gay said...

Fred – thanks for visiting Simplicity Blog – please tell your friends!

The value of front line employees is generally not recognised financially. For the money we pay we get far more value added than we deserve in most businesses. The more enlightened leaders acknowledge and recognise their front liners in every way.

Throughout my own career the professionalism shown by people who are on the ‘lowest’ rung of the pecking order (in terms of money or status) invariably matches and often exceeds that of any manager including those at the top of the organisation.

Customers who direct their frustration at front line folks find it easy to do that - it is their way ‘in’ to the organisation.

I have always said that people at the front line can solve most customer problems if they are given the power to do so.

More power to for liners as far as I’m concerned every time.

Thanks again Fred

Trevor Gay said...

Scott – brilliant and Amen!

Unsurprisingly I am with you 100%. Why do some managers not understand that the best way to gain power is to let go of power?

Front liners know the answers!

As far as I’m concerned the most frustrating managers are those who restrain front line folks and put them into ‘a box’ on the organisational chart …and the most inspiring managers just let people fly but give them support if needed. People don’t need ‘boxes’

But then – what do I know - I’m far too simple :-)

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Shaune said...

Those front line receptionists can make all the difference. If they have the skills to offer great customer service they can be as good (or better) for the practice than the doctor themselves. They are key players. Clear View Eye Care has tried hard to create great customer service and it starts at the front desk.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Shaune - I always say - 'You don't get second chance for first impressions.'

The front desk is absolutely crucial.