How Far Does Great Customer Service Go Towards EMR Loyalty?

Posted on December 16, 2013 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I’ve had my fair share of customer service lately – the over-the-phone, on hold for ages kind of customer service experience that I try to avoid. My first occurred when all of the Apple mobile devices in our house decided to go kaput due to user error. My husband and I had neglected to update our operating systems, and so our phones and tablets went dark in protest. The call to Apple customer support was lengthy, but not as painful as I had expected. We spent a good three hours over the span of two evenings on the phone with Ellie (sp?), perhaps the most patient, good natured call center rep I’ve ever encountered. She took us step by step through the update process for four separate devices, and was fast friends with my husband by the end of the second session. (The words “friendly” and “outgoing” don’t do him justice.) I went to sleep that night ready to wake up via the new alarm feature my update and Pandora upgrade would now allow.

My second experience occurred during the North Georgia Digital Economy Conference, where keynote speaker General (Ret.) Larry Ellis spoke about Vetconnexx, a program that recruits, trains and hires returning disabled veterans for work in call centers. General Ellis, who is also CEO of Vetconnexx, used a phrase any customer can relate to: “de-escalate.” As he playfully noted, not many people call customer support to chat. Most have a problem, and some level of anger and frustration built up as a result. Thus, call center reps are trained to de-escalate calls. I assume it helps when they begin calls by letting customers know they are speaking with a veteran.

Surely EMR end users often find themselves in the same boat. A quick Google search of EMR popularity based on customer support/service (after go live) yielded no clear resources. Perhaps it’s part of KLAS vendor assessments, but I couldn’t tell based on a visit to their website. I wonder what sort of difference great customer support makes to a provider who is trying to decide whether to adopt, or rip and replace.

While the importance of my Apple devices to my lifestyle is in no way comparable to the importance EMRs play in the care of patients, I can’t help but assume that great customer support increases brand loyalty in both cases. I’d like to hear what providers have to say about this. Have you stuck with a particular vendor because of their outstanding customer support? Have you bypassed a lower-cost option in favor of an EMR known for its customer service capabilities? Please share your thoughts, recommendations and advice in the comments below.