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5 Common Customer Service Mistakes in Healthcare and How to Avoid Them

Healthcare organizations are faced with various customer service issues that negatively impact patient satisfaction. Despite acknowledging the importance of patient satisfaction, the root cause of these issues often lies in the failure to prioritize them. In this blog post, we will examine five common mistakes that healthcare organizations make in terms of customer service. These include long wait times, unprofessional staff, rushed appointments with doctors, slow response times, and a lack of empathy from healthcare providers. By exploring these challenges, we aim to highlight the steps that healthcare organizations can take to improve patient satisfaction and enhance the overall patient experience.

Mistake #1  Long Wait Times

The problem with making patients wait a long time is that it’s disrespectful. It communicates to the patient that their time is not as valuable as the medical team’s and that instantaneously makes the patient resentful.

The healthcare organizations’ response is, they just can’t control the time because emergencies happen. While that is true, thanks to technology, there are ways to let patients know the office is running behind schedule and if they want to wait to check in for their appointment, they have that option.

Mistake #2: Staff Members are not patient focused

Too often the staff in a medical clinic are focused on the tasks that they have to accomplish and not the people. Take the person whose job it is to call patients’ names to bring them back to the examination room. It’s reminiscent of someone beyond a deli counter yelling #51.

There is nothing professional about medical staff yelling people’s names.

Certainly, there are ways that the staff could do their job without treating patients like a side of pastrami.  It could be as simple as the staff having a picture of the patient on the file so they can identify them instead of yelling out their name.

Better yet, have the staff person walk up to the patient, ask if they can carry any of the belongings, and escort them out of the lobby. That small change shows patients respect and allows the staff member to perform their tasks more professionally.

Mistake #3 Time Spent With Their Doctor.

Ask most patients and they’ll tell you that they feel rushed visiting with a physician. That feeling increases when a patient sees a specialist. Patients can leave those appointments feeling like the doctor didn’t ask them anything about themselves. The problem is that doctors have daily quotas to hit.

The customer service challenge in healthcare is to figure out what extra services they can provide outside of the appointment that allows the patient to feel like the doctor is paying attention to them.

One of the best practices is to have someone on the medical team  (Hello, I’m Becca from Dr. Zemel’s office) call to follow up and make themselves available to answer questions.  They can also offer to take additional questions to the physician. Research has shown that these follow-up calls greatly increase customer satisfaction.

Mistake #4 Slow Response times

Too often when a patient calls the doctor’s office with questions they end up getting a voicemail message that alerts them that it takes two to three days for a return call. If that isn’t annoying enough, when the patient and the office do connect, it may take an additional couple of days to get an answer.

While many healthcare organizations are short-staffed, relying on old technology like the telephone creates customer dissatisfaction.

Instead, organizations should invest in information management systems that allow the healthcare organization to communicate with the patient asynchronously and allows patients to review their files to make sure everything is accurate and up-to-date.

Mistake #5: Lack of Empathy

Healthcare providers who lack empathy or show little concern for their patient’s well-being can cause additional stress and anxiety, leaving patients feeling neglected and unsupported.

While a patient may be seeing a doctor because of cataracts, the empathetic staff members focus on the patient’s emotional well-being in addition to their physical needs. Not only should staff ask about the patient’s emotions, but they should also be trained to provide emotional support when needed.

At a minimum, they should have recommendations for other resources the patient could take advantage of.


Ultimately, a failure to prioritize patient pleasure is the root cause of many problems with customer service in the healthcare industry. Long wait times, rude personnel, hurried doctor’s visits, delayed response times, and a lack of empathy on the part of healthcare providers are just a few examples of the many ways in which these problems might express themselves. Healthcare providers can do better at customer service and patient satisfaction by emphasizing respect and appreciation for their patients. Some examples of this are the use of technology to shorten patients’ wait times, staff training to prioritize their needs, the provision of additional services and follow-up calls, the use of information management systems, and the provision of emotional support. The patient experience can be enhanced and a more positive and supportive atmosphere created for patients if healthcare providers work to address these typical customer service difficulties.