By Dava Stewart
Depending on where you are and what you’re doing, the phrase “customer service” could mean any number of things.
If your coffee order was wrong this morning, it may have been the result of poor customer service. If your cable shuts off unexpectedly, you will have to call your provider and deal with customer service representatives.
The larger the purchase, the more critical that service becomes. In the case of a wrong coffee order, you haven’t lost more than $5. When it comes to purchasing something much more expensive, however, like a new electronic medical records (EMR) system for your office, there is considerably more at stake.
Your patients trust you with their health, and you return that trust by providing outstanding care. Similarly, you trust a software vendor with your business when you purchase an EMR system. You, your staff, and your patients will depend on that system to function properly.
What does good customer service — in any instance — look like? Courtesy certainly plays a role, as does responsiveness. Even at the coffee-purchase level, you expect the barista to answer your questions politely. From the very outset of your communications with a software vendor you should expect courtesy and timely responses.
Another hallmark of excellent customer service, especially when you are considering something as complex as software, is getting answers to questions you may not have thought to ask. You are a healthcare provider and probably not a software expert. A good software vendor will bring up important points to consider when evaluating various systems.
Your practice is unique. There are commonalities among chiropractic centers, but, in the end, each has its own quirks. Your patients have insurance with a unique set of insurers, and they are seeing a unique group of other medical professionals who may need their health records. You have a different budget than any other practitioner. A software vendor that provides outstanding customer service will recognize the individuality of your practice and work hard to meet your needs.
The amount of training a vendor provides is a good indicator of their level of service, as well. Any new system equals a huge change for the way a practice operates. Given that fact, you need to be working with a company that can help train your staff. A single afternoon may not be enough for everyone to be comfortable with every part of the system. Good customer service requires at least the option to purchase on-going training.
Finally, your office may need assistance in implementing the new system. It’s one thing to receive courteous and prompt service during the sales cycle, but what happens after you have plunked down your money, the system is installed, and the staff has learned how to use it? Should you undertake implementation over time, or should you start using it immediately?
Excellent customer service includes extra help. Your software provider should talk to you about the process of implementation early on in the purchasing process, and representatives should be available to help at all stages.
Purchasing software may be a little scary — it’s a big investment, and it requires the cooperation of many different people. A vendor that works to give you good service can make the purchase easier and ensure that you get a system that fits your practice’s needs.