The COVID – 19 pandemic has thrown the world into an unexpected and unprecedented global crisis, of which many are fearful of how they will survive if infected, or the economic downturn being anticipated.

However, history has shown that CRISIS is often the opportunity to strengthen weak areas in a business, engage with new opportunities and come out as having conquered the crisis rather than as a victim of it.

Things to do in Crisis

1) Strengthen your workforce by being a listening leader

In this COVID crisis people have concerns about their safety and that of their family and friends. Especially frontline healthcare professionals. In a private hospital, frontline staff are usually the junior doctors and nurses, who man the Outpatient’s department and Emergency rooms.

Have an open discussion as a group if possible, to understand their needs and concerns. Also don’t play the Boss assuming you have all the solutions. Rather ask them how they think things can be done to solve or address the issues. Be open if suggestions are beyond the financial capacity of the hospital to give them better perspective.

Offer them emotional support through encouragement and taking the necessary actions that show that you see your staff as your most important asset in the hospital and you will do whatever is needed to keep them safe.

As there is a possible chance that revenues may drop in this time ask them what can be done to manage the situation, especially if it becomes difficult to pay salaries.

Set up COVID response team or Leader who will be the go-to person, which maybe yourself.

Have weekly follow-up meetings and get feedback from the team if they are satisfied with the action that have been taken and what needs to be improved on.

2) Ensure your team is armed with correct facts on the pandemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a free online training resource for healthcare professionals to understand how to respond in the growing crisis (https://openwho.org/courses/COVID-19-IPC-EN). Other WHO tools such as https://covid-19-response.org/ assist to develop a response protocol for your hospital.

Another good alternative is a free training from Future Learn organized by London school of hygiene(https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/management-of-covid-19-in-general-practice)

Assign team members along with yourself to do the course the step down the learning to the rest of the hospital team.

Ask your team what their thoughts are on how best to continue to serve your customers.

However, to get the team to BE CUSTOMER FOCUSED you need to allay their fears, ensure they are properly protected against the COVID-19 virus, ensure their families stable in the crisis. Give them hope and perspective that they will survive and come out better after the crisis.

It might be better to postpone discussing BEING CUSTOMER CENTRIC after they have been reassured and their concerns addressed.

A crisis is when your customer service is put to the test. It will affect your patients’ perspective of you FOR GOOD especially if you’re are able to handle unexpected challenges by going “above the call of duty”.

Be prepared for bigger patient challenges than normal as Teaching Hospitals may not be taking on the usual referrals due to the pandemic. If you do you might just win some customers for life and a great reputation.

 Any business without customers is dead so, your goal should be not to lose any customers and if possible, to gain more. Many organisations are engaging with customers virtually, find out what can work for your team. Coming soon: How to create a virtual system to keep your customers (patients) happy.

3) Discuss what new opportunities are possible now and after the crisis.

These may include:

  • Ways to lower running costs
  • Better ways to handle customers
  • If the weekly team meetings are effective you may want them to continue after the crisis is over to continue to build growth momentum.

Above all the greatest growth this crisis can create is a strong, engaged and loyal hospital workforce. If you lead with compassion and support for your team in difficult times, I am sure they will loyally build your hospital when good times return!

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