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SHC Blog

Customer Service - How Long-Term Care Can Learn from Hotels

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Came across an interesting article this morning (thanks to Shep Hyken and his Facebook page) from Huffington Post - "2012's Great Moments in Hotel Customer Service" by Kristen McKenzie, HotelsCombined.com.  Worth a quick read.  Many might be wondering why we are posting an article about hotels on a blog devoted to long-term care...

The reason is simple, customer service.  

A comment made by a dietary aide to me in 1994 has always stuck with me and I was reminded of it when I read the above article - referring to a resident, "Where does she think she is?  This isn't the Ritz".  I would challenge that maybe it should be.  The daily rate, pharmacy charges, and supplies/treatments for most residents are higher than the nightly rate at many hotels.  We are in an industry where budgets are becoming tighter, reimbursement rates are shrinking, and people are choosing to "age-in-place" as long as they can do so. Maybe it's time to capitalize on cost-effective actions that everyone on the team can perform and produce effective outcomes.  

Because of the Quality of Life (Social Service, Activities, QMRP) consulting that SHC does, I have had the wonderful opportunity to visit dozens and dozens of nursing facilities and hotels across the country.  I've witnessed some fantastic demonstrations of homes that know how to do it right and I'm loyal to the hotels that provide me with nice customer service.  Facilities that make a person smile when they visit, feel good about what's happening, and want to come back.  Isn't that what we want from our customers? 

Without our direct customers (aka Residents and families), we have no business.  Many long-term care companies and nursing facilities 'talk' about giving great customer service and some succeed in an amazing way.  Others still should keep it as a focused area of opportunity.  Many will state that they don't have the time because they are focused on census.  I would suggest that focusing on customer service will assist greatly with census.  Except for the small facilities in very rural communities, families have multiple nursing facilities to choose from in most markets.  Potential residents and families' experiences when they visit friends or volunteer at your building, talk to neighbors, and simple word-of-mouth can go further than any advertising Marketing Directors do.  

  • Saying "Welcome" when visitors enter, "Hello" when we pass them in the hall, "Thanks for coming" as they leave.
  • Being on-time for Care Conference meetings.
  • Returning phone calls and messages in a timely manner.
  • Responding to grievances and concerns.
  • Taking a few minutes to really listen to residents' and families' feelings about adjustment / issues.
  • Intervening when staff are showing signs of 'burn-out'
  • Residents, families, visitors, volunteers, vendors, suppliers, physicians, employees, hospitals, specialty providers - the list goes on - all can be a potential referral source, all should have a 'great' customer service experience.

Your team works hard, don't forget to let the public see it; we all are in this field because we truly love what we do, don't forget to let the public know it!

What are some of the outstanding ways you or your facility provide 'great' customer service?  Share them with us!

Connect with Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC


14 Comments to Customer Service - How Long-Term Care Can Learn from Hotels:

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www.simmonshc.com on Monday, January 07, 2013 3:30 AM
rld was filled with information, news, and inspiration as we wind-down 2012. Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC Blog Posts -  Customer Service - How Long-Term Care Can Learn from Hotels
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Apollo Nutraceutical on Thursday, March 14, 2013 6:33 AM
Excellent tips and Suggestion!! Your tips are really helpful for many long-term care companies and nursing facilities for giving great customer service. I am agree with you that Saying "Welcome" when visitors enter, "Hello" when we pass them in the hall, "Thanks for coming" as they leave.Thanks a lot for your suggestion...
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I would suggest that focusing on customer service will assist greatly with census. Except for the small facilities in very rural communities, families have multiple nursing facilities to choose from in most markets.
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