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Typically, employees and managers are fired up when they first attend a customer service seminar and hear some of the tactics and advice. But their enthusiasm eventually dies out because customer service is a lot of work, says Karen Carney, president of Carney Communications in Andover, MA.
"Someone needs to keep the enthusiasm going and monitor customer service in an organization," she adds. "Some organizations will set up a customer-service consciousness committee."
Agencies should make customer service a part of performance evaluations and job descriptions. They should create indicators for what is good customer service, such as an indicator for the number of referral sources and hospital readmissions. Natur ally, agencies also can send out surveys to measure customer service. (See related story on customer service in the March 1999 Homecare Education Management.)
The last part of maintaining good customer service is to make sure you hire the right employees, Carney adds. "Attitude and customer service consciousness should be important because it’s easier to hire the right person than to change someone’s behavior."
Agencies also may have to make some difficult decisions about letting go employees who are customer service holdouts. "There will be individuals who, no matter what, will not espouse the team spirit and will not take on a problem-solving approach," Carney says. "They will throw a kink in the works because, for whatever reason, they don’t want to go above and beyond and don’t want to change."
Organizations may have to fire these employees, and if they do it, will send a powerful message to the rest of the staff that the agency is serious about customer service.