What Staff Should Do When Things Go Wrong

Mid Carolina Cardiology in Charlotte, NC, incorporates performance standards for customer service into job descriptions and evaluations.

Adopted from standards developed by Sullivan/Luallin consulting firm in San Diego, they cover five areas: courtesy and helpfulness, telephone standards, handling complaints, teamwork and cooperation, and professionalism. Here are the standards for handling complaints:

1. Respond to questions and complaints with a "How can I help you?" attitude.

2. Stay calm; don’t take complaints personally; focus on a solution.

3. Let the patient/other person know that you are interested in solving the problem.

4. Listen for the facts; let the patient/other person tell the whole story.

5. Don’t respond with arguments or excuses; apologize if errors have been made.

6. Do what is within your authority to resolve the situation.

7. Describe what you plan to do; follow through on promises you make.

8. Keep your supervisor informed; monitor progress and document your actions.