Customer service is an important factor in day-to-day life. Anyone who has business interactions with people will end up having either a positive experience or a negative experience. Even doing surgery is a business, and a surgeon who wants to please their customers will have to learn good customer service.

The obvious answer to this question is: “to get it right.” The first step to improving patient satisfaction is to do the surgery correctly. However that is the easy part. It is the little things that can help improve satisfaction even more. These all fall under the umbrella of “customer service.” Here are two main factors that will help improve patient satisfaction: coolness, politeness, and friendliness.

First up is coolness. Often when someone is about to go into surgery, they are nervous or even frightened. The first thing that the surgeon can do to alleviate this feeling is to be very nonchalant about the procedure. The surgeon must act as though this were just part of a normal routine. This will set the patient at ease, knowing that the doctor is calm and confident.

This is the first step in making the patient feel comfortable.
The next step is politeness. The first thing Culver’s employees are told is to always smile and to always be polite. Saying things like, “please,” “thank you,” “ma’am,” and “sir” are all key phrases that patients pick up on. Just because one is polite does not mean they are kind, but there is a perceived connection between the two. It is important that the patient responds well to the doctor. Patients generally will feel more comfortable around the doctor if they like him/her. Politeness is a good start to making the patient like the doctor, but it is not the final step.

The final step is friendliness. There is a difference between politeness and friendliness. Politeness is a completely fake and disingenuous construct that people do purely out of habit and expectation. Friendliness is a genuine attempt by another to establish a relationship with another. Politeness is important at the beginning, but it must be followed by friendliness.

This is another expectation at Culver’s. Employees are encouraged to make conversation with the guests. An example of this would be as follows: A customer rides up in a motorcycle and enters the store. The manager greets the guest with a few polite words. That was the polite stage. This is followed by the friendly stage: The manager then follows up by asking the customer about his motorcycle.

The manager, being a fan of motorcycles himself, then proceeds to discuss motorcycle preferences with the customer. The friendly stage is vital at making the patient feel comfortable. It allows the patient to relate to the doctor, so that they are more at ease with the person who will be doing their surgery.

So to conclude, these are the three steps are vital to the patient’s satisfaction. First, the doctor must appear relaxed and confident. Second, the doctor must make polite introductions with the patient. Third, the doctor must engage in friendly conversation with the patient. Apart from doing the surgery well, the only thing that the doctor can do to improve satisfaction is to make the patient feel more comfortable, and these three steps will ensure a more comfortable patient.

2016 Scholarship Finalist

Jackson S

Lawrence, Kansas

The final question on the application was an essay question.

The essay question was:

How can orthopedic surgeons doing hip and knee replacement surgery improve patient satisfaction?

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