How to Conduct Service Recovery in Healthcare (Part 1)

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This blog post continues our series of patient experience best practices from the HealthStream Engagement Institute. Every week we share information that demonstrates our expansive understanding of the challenges faced by healthcare organizations and the solutions we have identified for improving the patient experience and patient and business outcomes.

For service recovery to be successful, every member of the organization is expected to respond and take ownership of a patient’s or customer’s complaint or concern. The employee becomes the personal representative of the organization and an advocate for the patient or customer.

Our RELATE acronym can help staff recall the steps in service recovery, even in the midst of a stressful or heated customer interaction.

R REASSURE by telling the customer who you are and that his or her concerns are important.

E EXPLAIN you are here to help resolve the issue.

L LISTEN to the concern or complaint.

A ANSWER by explaining the action you will be taking.

T TAKE ACTION to resolve the concerns.

E EXPRESS appreciation for bringing his or her concerns to your attention and follow up to ensure the concern is resolved for the individual.

Step 1: Reassure the patient or customer that you are competent, and instill confidence.

  • Project a professional image by wearing your name badge and dressing professionally. Even over the phone, make sure you answer in a slow and understandable greeting.
  • Introduce yourself by name and position.
  • Smile and make eye contact. A smile communicates warmth, and eye contact says you are interested in what the person is saying.
  • Acknowledge the person by name and let them know you understand he or she has an issue.
  • Reassure them that his or her concerns are important to you.

Step 2: Explain that you are there to help make this better for the patient or customer.

  • Be sure to maintain a non-defensive tone of voice. This can help diminish the intensity of emotion.
  • Be aware of your body language and facial expressions to make sure the customer knows you are sincere about wanting to help.
  • Be aware that regardless of who is at fault, in the patient’s or customer’s perception, we have not met his or her expectations.

Step 3: Listen actively; this is the most important step in service recovery.

  • Do not interrupt or assume you know what the patient or customer is going to say.
  • Focus on what is being said. Do not get distracted by what is going on around you.
  • Pay attention to body language and tone of voice. This can be more important than the words, as they communicate your emotions to the patient or customer.
  • Concentrate on what the patient or customer is saying instead of thinking about your response. Understand what is important to the patient or customer.

Next week’s blog will continue the additional steps in the service recovery process.

This is a sample of the innovation shared at The Healthcare Improvement Forum, a venue designed to assist leaders at every level to transform culture and optimize performance. This newly developed conference series is an innovative gathering of leaders eager to hear from industry experts. As an attendee, you will learn practical tools and tactics that will leverage strengths to meet your organization’s goals—from employee engagement to the patient experience. The coaches and experts at the HealthStream Engagement Institute incorporate a variety of adult learning and networking techniques to engage their audience and share real-world solutions for attendees to learn and implement.