A few years ago I attended a seminar where I was taught to value the customer who complains because they point out where we need to improve and help us to get better. When I heard this, I asked myself how many times I had received poor service from a restaurant or shop and instead of speaking up and complaining, I merely walked away telling myself that I would never go there again. Most of us are like that, we would rather walk away than complain. Research has shown that 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain and although they won’t complain to you, they will not hesitate to tell other people about the poor quality service they received. This means that your business has not only lost a customer, but you may have also lost potential customers.
As a biomedical program manager, no matter how good you are and how hard you work at providing great customer service, sooner or later you will eventually make one of your customers unhappy. Maybe your response time getting to the ER or the ICU was too slow, or the cause of a device failure was misdiagnosed. Perhaps some of your policies interfere with the ability of your customers to provide quality services to their patients. I can recall years ago when it was the policy of some departments to cut unsafe wall plugs off of equipment leaving it useless for the physicians or nurses who may have needed it to treat or monitor their patients. While this policy may have contributed to improving the hospital’s electrical safety, it interfered with caregiver’s ability to provide services to their patients.
Everyone makes mistakes. Whenever our services fail to meet our customer’s expectations, we are better off if the customer takes the time to complain rather than walk away angry. When they do complain, the best thing you can do is listen carefully to what they are saying and try not to get defensive or take their complaint personally. Always ask questions because that helps the customer realize you truly are listening and it helps you fully understand the true nature of their problem. Try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes so that you can more easily understand why they are displeased. Ask what they might consider to be an acceptable solution to the matter and be sure to apologize. If you manage to turn them around, you may find out that instead of walking away angry, they have become loyal customers. Finally, be certain to use the incident as a tool to teach the other staff members of your department that the person who complains can be your most valuable customer.
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