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Monitor and report on service delivery in the health services

Monitor and report on service delivery in the health services

Contents

Review customer satisfaction with service delivery on a regular basis, using verifiable evidence in accordance with organisational requirements
Identify and pursue opportunities to enhance the quality of service and products within organisational requirements
Monitor procedural aspects of service delivery for effectiveness and suitability to customer requirements
Seek customer feedback regularly and use it to improve the provision of products and services
Ensure that decisions to modify services and products incorporate evidence of customer satisfaction and are within organisational requirements
Ensure that reports are clear, detailed and contain recommendations focussed on critical aspects of service delivery

 

For this topic, you may need to broaden the meaning of ‘customer’ to include co-workers who need you to complete your specific task(s) before they can perform their tasks (eg, stores staff who need you to complete the sterilisation process before they can store the instruments). Also include clinics and smaller hospitals that might have out-sourced their instruments to your unit or hospital for cleaning.

Note that some of the content in this topic may seem to be aimed at sales or marketing staff in large profit-making companies who sell services and products. This may or may not be the type of work you do.

However, even if your work does not focus on sales or marketing, remember that you are providing a service to customers. It is useful to understand how verifiable customer feedback can be obtained and how service can be monitored and improved.

Review customer satisfaction with service delivery on a regular basis, using verifiable evidence in accordance with organisational requirements

Reviewing customer satisfaction begins with customer research. Most medium to large organisations have specialised departments that plan and conduct customer research. We will have a look at some of the techniques you may be required to understand in order to effectively research (or review) customer satisfaction.

The research process

Like all research processes, customer service research has five broad phases. These are:

Let’s look at each of these phases in more detail.

Phase 1: Defining the problem and research objectives

In this phase, you need to define and document the objectives of the research. This phase expresses the outcome as a series of goals. Defining the problem is often the hardest part of the research process, as a manager may know that a problem exists but be unsure how to put the problem in ‘research language’.

Defining a problem keeps us focused on our goal, and encourages us to start with the end result in mind, instead of getting bogged down in details. This is the essence of strategic thinking and planning. For example, a manager may suspect that an organisation is losing customers as a result of poor service. Before trying to implement solutions, the frontline manager needs to be sure of the problem and its causes. The problem can be defined as a goal, or a series of goals, such as:

Determine the causes of customer attrition by implementing weekly satisfaction surveys.

Sometimes defining a customer service problem can be tricky and it can be a good idea to involve an experienced market research specialist at this point in the process.

Once the problem has been defined, you need to identify the specific objectives of the research process. There are three general types of research objectives for most research processes:

Finally, using these objectives, you need to decide who will use the information gathered and how they will use it. Considering these objectives helps you to define what data or information needs to be gathered, identify what questions need to be asked and determine what the customer service research sample needs to be.

Phase 2: Developing the research plan

Once the objectives have been identified, the next phase is the development of the research plan. The following planning steps are usually used in an organisational planning process:

In customer service research, there are four additional areas that must be addressed during the planning process. These involve the following:

Strengths and weaknesses of customer contact methods
Mail Phone Personal Interview Email
Flexibility

Poor

Good

Excellent

Fair

Data quantity Collected

Good

Fair

Excellent

Fair

Speed of response

Poor

Excellent

Good

Good

Response rate

Poor

Good

Good

Poor

Cost

Good

Fair

Poor

Excellent

Phase 3: Implementing the research plan

In the next phase, the research plan is implemented and managed. Although the management of the customer service research plan may be controlled by the organisation, many organisations today elect to have the customer service related data collected by a third party — this reduces costs and ensures objectivity. ‘Mystery Shopper’ organisations provide this type of service.

Phase 4: Interpreting and reporting on the findings

In this phase, you interpret the findings, draw conclusions from the data collected and present the results to your team and the organisation.

Phase 5: Post-implementation review

As with all good plans, customer service research should conclude a post-implementation review. In this phase you ask and answer the question, ‘What did we do well this time and what could we do better next time?’

Your service research planning template could look like this:

Customer service research template

Research objective(s):

exploratory, descriptive, causal

Phase Actions By when By whom Resources required

Develop research plan

(including research techniques, customer sample, contact method)

Implement research plan

Interpret and report research results

Post-implementation review

Activity 1

Reflect on customer service feedback at your workplace


 


 

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Identify and pursue opportunities to enhance the quality of service and products within organisational requirements

Once you have completed your customer research you have quantifiable data, which can be used as the basis for constructive suggestions that will lead to changes in service standards. You can also provide advice on future directions of client service strategies.

The underlying purpose here is to improve service performance and to increase customer satisfaction. It’s important to be systematic.

You need to be able to describe the performance gap and discuss it with your team. Often these situations become difficult because people’s emotions and feelings of self-worth come into play. One way to keep a positive focus is to think of this as a problem-solving activity.

Problem-solving step Problem-solving skills Talking to team member about improving customer service

1. PROBLEM

Describe the problem

Identify the outcome you want

Ask for help

Describe the performance gap.

Explain exactly what standard of customer service is required.

Explain why it’s important that the team reaches the customer service standard.

Find out what’s preventing the team from reaching the standard.

Ask for the team’s point of view and lister without interrupting

2. SOLUTION

Develop options

Consider the consequences

Make the decision

Develop an action plan

Develop options for reaching the customer service standard with the team.

Discuss the merits of the various options and agree on a solution.

Develop a clear action plan that states who does what, and by when.

3. REVIEW

Ask yourself how it’s going and when it’s finished, how it went.

Measure the performance.

Has the customer service performance gap increased or decreased?

Is the team implementing the agreed solution?

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Monitor procedural aspects of service delivery for effectiveness and suitability to customer requirements

The four steps to monitoring

1. Establish where monitoring is needed

The key point for a manager in monitoring the implementation of service improvement plans is identifying where monitoring is needed. In order to identify the areas that require monitoring, ask yourself the following questions:

2. Establish the measures

Using the answers to the questions above, identify what should be monitored. Remember that your measures should monitor the key areas that you have identified in the first step, including those that support the organisation's service strategy. Measure the most important things that will help you to meet your goals, and make sure the measures give you accurate and timely information.

3. Compare

Compare what should be happening with what is happening. Remember that in any plan some variation to the planned outcome will occur. As a manager your role is to identify when this variation is important.

4. Take action

If a variation is identified it may become necessary for you to take corrective action. You may need to:

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Seek customer feedback regularly and use it to improve the provision of products and services

We have looked at how important it is to find out what your customer thinks of your services and products. Customer service improvement, however, however, is continuous cycle. In other words, when you receive feedback, you and your organisation need to act on the feedback. Then, again, you need to seek customer feedback. It is hoped that this time, customers will say that your services have improved.

Continuous improvement can be defined as the improvement of the quality of aspects of service (or the product). The improvement will not happen overnight—it’s step-by-step. Ideally, improvements must be cost-efficient or cost neutral. Ideally too, it should not mean more work for staff but a change in the ways things are done. Customer feedback is sought continuously.

In other words, continuous improvement occurs when the quality management process is continually reviewed and improved.

Obtaining feedback is not enough. You will need to identify those work processes that are not working well—therefore resulting in the customer not getting satisfaction out of their interactions with your unit or organisation.

You would need to examine the following:

Once you have identified where the quality management process can be improved, report your findings to your manager. Remember, continuous improvement occurs when the quality management process is continually reviewed and improved.

Activity 2

Reflect on how your workplace receives feedback on the services it provides.


 


 

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Ensure that decisions to modify services and products incorporate evidence of customer satisfaction and are within organisational requirements

Any decision to modify a service or product needs to be based on evidence and this means an analysis of customer feedback.

Activity 3

Suppose a customer, eg an external clinic, has provided you with the feedback that the packaging of your instruments often come apart.


 

Feedback

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Ensure that reports are clear, detailed and contain recommendations focussed on critical aspects of service delivery

In order for the customer feedback you collect during research and monitoring activities to be useful, it must be collated and stored to become data that can be analysed and interpreted for the purposes of planning. Record keeping and the development of databases form an important part of this process. Electronic media has taken the storage and retrieval of information and data to new heights and in today’s global economy it is essential that managers are able to fully utilise current technology.

Maintaining records and reports in an efficient and accessible way will help you to support service strategies, examples of which are outlined below.

The report should include the following:

In this topic, we examined the importance of:

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