If you run a medical office, clinic or dental practice, you count on your employees to be the face of your business. Their daily contacts with your customers help establish long term relationships with patients.
Essentially, your employee can impact the success of your business bottom-line. Experts regularly remind business owners that it’s difficult to recover from poor customer service or burned relationships.
So how do you make sure your employees have the expertise and ability to serve your customers? By providing training that teaches vital skills and knowledge employees need to be good ambassadors for your office or clinic. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Set priorities – Before you can develop an employee training program, you have to set your goals. What do you want the training to do? How will you measure success?
Think through what employees need to know. What new skills and abilities do they need to develop? As you review the list, you can set your priorities for the program. You also can identify the training topics by position, customer education, and seasonal needs.
2. Deliver convenience – Employees value training. They want to learn continually new skills and knowledge to help them do a better job and become more professional. But they don’t want the typical type of training programs: big meeting rooms with lots of people. They want private training opportunities that they can do anytime, anywhere and on any digital device.
The best way to provide the training employees want is by using an online training software system.
There are many types of training software systems -- often with lots of features. As you review the software choices, make a list of the pros and cons of each. Then review the list to identify those that provide the most important features. Many programs offer “glitzy” options to make training modules interesting. But you have to know how to use them to make them work well in the modules. So, how much time can you invest in learning and working with the software? Do you need the glitzy features?
Many medical and dental offices look for training software that is simple to use to create training modules at any time.
3. Support cross-training – One of the best ways to keep employees and patients happy is to provide cross-training for workers. While some skills require technical training, many more tasks and jobs can be handled by different people.
Make a list of all the activities that employees do in your office or clinic. Circle those that require certification. Can all employees doing these specialized tasks cross over to help each other out? If not, make this a special training track for these jobs. Work with employees doing these tasks to create modules that teach their knowledge and skills to other qualified team members. Reassure them that they are not at risk of being replaced. Instead, the goal is to have other employees available to assist when they are swamped, sick, or on vacation.
Next, look at the list of other “non-specialized” tasks. Identify how many employees know how to do them. Start developing training modules to help employees understand what needs to be done, how to do each job, and who to contact for help.
Finally, design modules that provide team training experiences to teach employees how to work together and complement each other’s expertise and abilities.
Remember, the goal of cross-training is to empower team members to work together to serve your customers better. When customers need help, and the regular team member who usually assists them is busy, other employees can step in. Customers will be happier with their experience. Happy customers tend to return to your office or clinic. And they are more likely to recommend you to others.
4. Enhance patient communication – When calling your office or clinic, current or prospective patients don’t like to put on hold, or be asked to leave a message. They also don’t like to have someone answer the call who doesn’t know how to help them or doesn't know who can help them.
Every patient contact counts. Make sure all team members know your expectations of how to handle calls and patient visits. Pushing patients off on someone else or expressing impatience with their questions doesn’t make a great impression. Patients are good at “reading” these responses.
Work with employees to make a list of questions patients frequently ask. Next, develop training modules that provide direction and answers for each. In the modules, provide specific examples of how you want employees to respond. Include YouTube videos that support the topics you want to teach. Or, make your own short videos that reinforce the key points.
Instead of focusing on mistakes that have been made, tell employees that going forward, the goal is a customer, patient-centric approach. Direct them to required training programs that teach them how to help customers. Then work on praising employees who do the right things.
5. Teach and follow regulations – Your office or clinic is required to follow many regulations, such as from HIPPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and OSHA. To ensure employees understand and follow all the requirements, develop training modules that provide the information they need to know and actions they need to ensure your office or clinic complies. To reinforce the desired behaviors, create role-playing video scenarios of employees making the right and wrong responses. Make them fun and interesting, so the training is light and friendly. Employees are more likely to spend time with playful and creative videos.
6. Check learning – When developing training modules, remember that employees have different learning styles. Make sure to develop training modules that provide information in different formats. Using a variety of teaching tools, such as video, pictures, audio, charts, graphs, and stories, makes it easier for works to embrace the training concepts.
When creating the training modules, set up quizzes to check employees’ understanding of the material. It’s also a way to track learning experiences that fulfill compliance regulations.
When employees reach set training milestones, publicly celebrate their accomplishments. Employees appreciate your recognition of their commitment to complete training modules. They also like to share how they plan to use their new knowledge and skills. The celebration doesn’t have to be a big event. Just a simple break time activity or a toast after work is appreciated.
These simple actions will go a long way toward encouraging positive employee attitudes and increasing engagement.
7. Continuous training, regular feedback – Employee training is not a “one and done” task. Although employees will watch and re-watch training modules several times, it’s important to add new topics continually.
Regularly ask employees for their ideas for new training topics, such as, “What have you always wanted to know about _____.” Another idea is to develop training that teaches little-known facts about your customers, office or clinic.