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3 Ways to Strive for Service Excellence

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, February 15, 2012

One day last summer, Monroe (WI) Clinic delivered its employees iced lattes with a special message—"We appreciate you a latte!" The gesture thanked employees for embracing the hospital's effort to improve service and, thereby, patient satisfaction scores.

"As an organization, we did not have consistent staff expectations for service delivery," says Cindy Werkheiser, vice president of service excellence at the not-for-profit health system, which operates a 100-bed hospital and a series of outpatient clinics. "We also did not have a consistent structure of accountability for service delivery. We could deliver good service, but we needed to deliver it more consistently and make it exceptional."

In today's healthcare environment, HCAHPS has created a direct link between service, patient satisfaction scores, and reimbursement because value-based purchasing rewards high performers.

Werkheiser worked with consulting firm Baird Group to create a universal list of service standards and identify staff member "coaches" to help facilitate the process. She soon realized the road to service excellence was difficult to navigate, but the rewards would justify the journey.

Create service accountability

"Delivering great service is just a smart business practice for any organization in any industry. It builds loyalty and positive word of mouth," says Kristin Baird, president and CEO of Baird Group. "But in healthcare, service builds trust, creates a more positive experience, and drives up patient satisfaction scores."

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