Customer Service in a Changing Environment – Dena Kirk

This week (3-16-21) we meet with Dena Kirk to discuss Customer Service in a Changing Environment.

3 Critical Elements Of Good Customer Service.

  1. Good customer service starts with the right attitude and mindset.
  2. Good customer service requires effective communication. …
  3. Good customer service is practiced on your internal customers.

Here are some of the questions raised about Customer Service:

  1. How are the changing times changing customer service?
  2. What key metric are recommended for EVERY occ med clinic?
  3. How often do you monitor customer service?
  4. Who establishes the schedule?
  5. How interactive do you get with your clients in reporting metrics?
  6. What is the best way to get staff involved in customer service?
  7. How do you monitor staff customer service?

March 16 Customer Service in a Changing Healthcare Environment Dena L. Kirk – slides


In the age of rapid technological advancements coupled with unprecedented health challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, the field of healthcare has had to adapt swiftly. One of the key areas that have seen a major shift is the realm of customer service. Every successful business including those in healthcare knows that at its heart lies customer service.

In a recent the National Association of Occupational Health Professionals (NAOHP) Town Hall led by Donnelly Gardner, we got to hear insightful perspectives about customer service in a changing healthcare environment from guest speakers Dena Elkhurst, Administrator and Director for Occupational Medicine and Rehab Services for Southern Illinois Healthcare, and Mike Schmidt, President of NAOHP Board of Directors.

Customer Service in Pre and Post-COVID Era

Dena Elkhurst pointed out that the pre-COVID culture thrived on personal relationships and face-to-face communication. However, due to the pandemic, there’s a shift towards virtual platforms like Zoom and WebEx, accompanied by old-fashioned phone calls for conversations regarding customer service. To maintain the personal touch and respect individual comfort, adapting to current norms, eg., elbow bump instead of handshake, has become necessary.

Importance of Understanding Customers and Meeting Their Needs

One of the key messages shared was the importance of understanding what customers truly want. Be it the method of communication or specific services, the preference of the customers should always be at the forefront.

Dena further articulated this by talking about a local manufacturing facility that needed help screening their employees. Instead of declining due to this not being a previously offered service, her response was a simple and effective, “Sure we can.” This anecdote underscores the significance of meeting the needs of customers, even if it means venturing outside the company’s usual comfort zone.

Monitoring and Enhancing Customer Service

To assess and enhance customer service, Dena’s team uses different metrics to get a comprehensive understanding of their performance. These include patient and company satisfaction, encounters, ancillary services, patient throughput time, financial indicators, and specific metrics by providers. A daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly review of these metrics provides insights into areas of improvement.

Mike added that paying attention to top customers by number of visits and revenues can also reveal key trends and offer valuable data to work with. Frequent communication – a phone call to check how they’re doing or a quick update about their team – can help maintain relationships.

Importance of Training and Accountability

All employees, irrespective of their role, need rigorous training about what information they can share and what they should avoid. An understanding of the company’s mission and values needs to be ingrained in the employees. Moreover, employees need feedback on their performance on a more regular basis rather than just annually. Holding them accountable and creating an environment of mutual responsibility can drastically enhance the quality of customer service.

Use of Technology in the New Normal

COVID-19 propelled telemedicine to the forefront, turning it into a necessity rather than a mere convenience. The pandemic showed that business models have to be flexible enough to adapt to unforeseen circumstances to continue providing essential services.

The key to successful customer service in the evolving landscape of healthcare is to listen, adapt, and provide value to the customers. It’s about being attentive to customer’s needs, being flexible with the services provided, and resolve to provide the best possible customer experience regardless of the circumstance.

Join us in our next Town Hall session where we delve further into developing customer service surveys for clients. We look forward to seeing you there!


Health care organizations must strive to move beyond patient satisfaction to create an atmosphere that ensures exceptional and long-term patient and customer loyalty.

We have identified through our market research a gap between the provider perspective and the patient’s perspective with respect to quality and service.

In this webinar, we will clarify some of those issues.

Our goal is to identify at least three to five new ideas for participants to take back with them and implement in their clinic or practice.
There are other reasons why this seminar should provide a positive return on investment for registrants. Even a single dissatisfied patient can provide enough negative word of mouth as to cost a clinic or program thousands of dollars in lost revenue. It is estimated that it costs up to six times as much to replace a lost patient or corporate account than to retain that account.

Attend our “Beyond Customer Satisfaction” course


Thanks to Our Premier Sponsor for Town Hall – UL

UL’s SYSTOC Kiosk, automatic appointment reminders, and no-show notifications to the employer help streamline the front desk workflow.

Download here: SYSTOC Kiosk for occupational medicine

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