Effective leadership is essential to delivering quality customer service and is becoming more challenging than ever for radiology professionals in today’s unpredictable health care environment. Competition is tough, and patients go where they feel most comfortable. While attempting to satisfy compliance and regulatory issues, the radiology professional is also struggling with the many demands that come with a health care administrator and leader.
Here are some leadership qualities needed to be an effective and successful radiology professional in today’s challenging health care environment:
- You must be passionate about what you do, about taking care of patients, staff and everyone who comes through the doors. They are customers.
- Your leadership defines the culture of your department and demonstrates the quality of service you want delivered. Lead by example and encourage others to stay motivated and positive while providing quality patient care.
- Show employees how much you appreciate them. Appreciation for hard work builds morale and inspiration. Create immediate and positive feedback on excellent jobs completed, and share this note of appreciation with the rest of the staff. Establish performance goals and lines of responsibility with built-in compensation rewards when specific goals are met. Recognize specific contributions and accomplishments on an on-going basis, not just during performance reviews.
- Be caring and nurturing. Empathy and compassion go a long way. Implement practices that lead to outstanding patient care and customer service.
- Lead others to be flexible and accept new ideas and new methods. Set the direction for your staff by embracing technological advances and changes.
- Maintain open communication. Always be a good listener and let people speak openly without feeling they will regret speaking their mind. Visit with staff and patients. Welcome suggestions for continuous improvement, especially for patient care services.
- Delegate appropriately. Focus on important tasks. Remain focused on priorities, stay organized and ensure employees are performing their functions appropriately.
- Have a clear vision of your department and customer service strategy, and communicate it to your staff. Your leadership and customer service strategy should create an environment that is welcoming, compassionate, consistent and competent. Patients need to feel special.
- Hire staff that fit a customer service orientated culture. People coming into the department need to feel welcome and should be treated with the utmost respect. Patients should leave the department feeling they had a positive experience. The staff must have excellent listening skills, empathy and be able to treat patients with dignity and respect.
- Ensure continuing education is a priority in your department. Keep staff trained and continuously strive for quality customer service. It starts with hiring the right people, and continuous training ensures the culture is carried through. Foster a mentoring program within your department to promote continuous training.
- Remain humble. Admit mistakes or when you don’t know something. Ask for advice if needed. You may be surprised with how much knowledge others have and it provides them an opportunity to assist in problem-solving.
- Ensure your team has the tools it needs. Look at ways to ensure your budget includes these tools in future budget cycles.
- Build loyalty through great customer service. Health care is a small world when it comes to good or bad reputations. When someone gets treated with exceptional care, it usually does not go unnoticed. Soon the word gets out about the “special treatment” a person received during their recent visit to a radiology department. Of course, it can easily go the opposite direction very quickly with just the interaction of a rude receptionist or employee. People want to go where they feel comfortable and welcomed. Make this a priority in your training so you build loyalty in the community.
- Ensure the radiology department fosters a friendly and warm culture. Use music and lighting to create an environment that will comfort patients and make them feel at ease. Have current magazines available for men and women, and books for children. If you have room in the reception area, add a corner with a few toys to entertain young children who are there with a parent. Make it easy for these patients to want to return.
- If there is a dispute or a disruptive person, resolve the situation discreetly but promptly. Remain calm and, if necessary, help influence the participants to approach the situation in positive and professional manner. Often, a steady, calm approach is all it takes to settle someone down and accept an answer that they are not happy about.
- Ask for patient feedback on patient experience postcards that the patient can complete while in the department or mail from home. Use the feedback to collect data, share results with staff, and improve your customer service strategy. If you receive patient contact information, be sure to contact the patient and thank them for their input. Make it personal and ensure the patient knows their input was very important and vital to your continuous customer service training of your staff.
- Have the ability to change your leadership style to successfully meet a specific goal or outcome. Leaders today are learning to adjust their interactions with different generations such as Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, or Millennials because each generation has its own way of communicating and being incentivized. Be aware of the best ways to interact with these generational groups and you will be very successful in leading them.
Your leadership sets the direction and it takes a dedicated leader to continuously build excellent customer service. To be an effective radiology leader in today’s challenging health care environment, keep these leadership qualities in mind your department will deliver excellent customer service, resulting in a rewarding experience for your customers and staff.