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The role of customer service in aged care

Friday, December 11, 2015

Customer service

The Australian aged care system is moving towards consumer-directed care giving individuals more choice in their care requirements1.

This means that for aged care service providers, customer service is more important than ever. It’s important to remember that customers are not only your residents but their families and local community as well.

The notion of customer service can also extend to include your internal colleagues and stakeholders as these relationships can help shape your facility.

Here are some useful tips for improving customer service in your aged care facility.

Be welcoming

Welcome people with a warm and sincere greeting but allow them to guide the conversation – are they chatty and inquisitive or straight down to business? Help them feel at ease and welcome by being relaxed and natural.

Listen

Ensure you fully understand someone’s needs by listening and empathising. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and to ask the customer if you can repeat back what they’ve said to ensure you’ve understood.

If you can’t help with an enquiry, find somebody who can. People are often happy to wait, as long as they are given an indication of the waiting period and feel assured their request is being followed up.

Dealing with complaints

Even the most capable customer service team has to deal with complaints. The CARP method is a useful four-step system to help you work through a complaint.

  1. Control the issue by taking on a leadership role: “I can help you with that problem”
  2. Acknowledge the problem: “I understand it must be a difficult for you”
  3. Refocus the conversation: “Let’s look at how we can move past this”
  4. Problem-solve to fix the issue: “I can offer X solution to this problem”

Throughout the process, it’s important to maintain your composure and be respectful.

Always be positive

Avoid complaints about yourself, company, colleagues or suppliers. Negativity is contagious and you want the encounter to be positive.

The language you use makes a difference to how your customer feels about their purchase. “We can’t get that in till next week” is a negative statement; whereas “We can get that in for you next week” is a positive statement. Focussing on the solution rather than the problem helps your customer feel happy and more likely to engage positively with your facility.


1http://www.myagedcare.gov.au/aged-care-services/home-care-packages/consumer-directed-care-cdc

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