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How relevant is great customer service to therapy?

Posted on 13 January 2017

The starting point is to ask ourselves what actually is excellent client service?

In a consumer context, excellent service is generally perceived to ‘provide an
experience that meets or exceeds customer expectations, it produces satisfied
customers. The perception of success of such interactions is dependent on employees
“who can adjust themselves to the personality of the customer”.

So how does this translate into the field of therapy?

Excellence in client service in a therapeutic setting is not simply about extra
downloads and handouts, it is about maximising every interaction a therapist
has with their clients to help move them towards their therapeutic goals.

‘Excellence in client service in a therapeutic setting is not simply
about extra downloads and handouts, it is about maximising
every interaction a therapist has with their clients
to help move them towards their therapeutic goals.’

Actually, within therapy, customer or client service is almost a misnomer
as client service is in effect an intrinsic part of the therapeutic process. But
there are some learnings that therapists can take from those companies that are
widely regarded as leading the way in delivering excellent customer experiences.
John Lewis for example, number 3 in the rankings for top customer service
in the UK, aims to ‘be exceptional and to be consistent across all platforms of
communication’.

As therapists, excellence in client service is driven by the personal commitment
a therapist makes to themselves to do everything they appropriately can
to help their clients achieve the changes they seek. This is a process that starts
from the moment a potential new client makes contact, whether through the
website or by phone.

The process should be taken very seriously by the therapist
as it underpins every interaction and piece of work undertaken with clients.
Congruence is paramount, echoing the John Lewis need for consistency
across all platforms of communication.

And interestingly if we consider the last part of the definition of customer service
‘The perception of success of such interactions is dependent on employees
who can “adjust themselves to the personality of the customer”, it echoes the
basic NLP principle of working with a clients’ ‘model of the world’. Working
by adapting our interactions in line with the client view of their world to maximise
their experience and their potential for change.

For therapists, great client service is about constantly assessing the right approach
and level of interaction to motivate the client at each stage of therapy.

It is about delivering the optimum experience each time to individual clients in
order to bring about change. Excellent client service is about judging every part
of the therapeutic process and responding accordingly, it is about tailoring client
service to the individual needs to help achieve their therapeutic objectives,
it is intrinsic in everything a therapist does with clients.

Client service also is about recognising what else clients may need beyond the
service we as therapists provide in order to achieve the changes they want.

‘Client service also is about recognising what else clients
may need beyond the service we as therapists provide
in order to achieve the changes they want.’

I work often with women’s sexual issues such as vaginismus, a predominantly
psychological issue but with medical and physical aspects. I work as part of a
team of medical, therapeutic and physiotherapy experts and frequently refer
relevant clients to other health professionals in the team who contribute extensively
to the process. For me, this again is part of excellent client service, constantly
striving to assist the client to achieve their best possible outcome.

Another learning from those companies who are leading the way in delivering
excellent customer experiences is to actually ask our clients to tell us about their
experience of the service we provide as part of the therapeutic process.

I am not just talking about client reviews and testimonials but also using online surveys
as a means of assessing whether we are offering excellence in client service.
Survey Monkey is easy to set up and distribute to clients and also analyses the
results.

We can then use the results, not just as feedback for what we are doing
well and the areas we can tweak to improve but incorporate the statistics into
marketing tools.

So my final question has to be, is there such as thing as client service when it
comes to therapy or is it such an integrated part of the therapeutic process as to
indistinguishable from the process of therapy itself?





Fiona Nicolson on Google+

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