Effectiveness of public relations in resolving customer complaints: a case study of Kenyatta National Hospital's complaints flow chart
The purpose of this study was toexamine the effectiveness of the complaints flow chart used at Kenyatta National Hospital's Public relations department to resolve customer complaints. Public relations has been treated as a far-fetched role from management. Its importance at management level has not been taken with seriousness in some organizations worldwide. In many cases especially in the health sector, govememnet has granted hospitals autonomy to facilitate management improvements which are expected to lead to better quality care and improved revenue generation. These factors stimulated interest on the researcher to find out whether the tool used by the PR Office at KNH helps them to resolve compliants thereby enhancing good mutual relationships between KNH and its publics. The complaints flow chart is the main tool used by the PR Office to resolve complaints. Complaints are received by the PR Office and passed to heads of department who are to give both curative and preventive measures of the complaints at hand. The PR Office there hence follows up with the patient to give them feedback and to find out if they were assisted. The PR Office also meet with the CEO to give a report of their cases and in addition send a reportto the Ombudsman on the same. The literature review covered the general status of public relations in Kenyan hospitals. It includes activities undertaken by the public relations office at Kenyatta National Hospital. The study is guided by four research questions generated at the conceptual stage of the study. To obtain results; personal observation and questionnaires were the key instruments used to collect data. The respondent ranged from Senior Managers at the hospital, The Public Relations office personnel and out-patients at the hospital. The major finding of the study was that the complaints flow chart was not effective in resolving customer complaints at Kenyatta National hospital. More specifically, the study found out that: The methods used to send feedback to the patients about their complaints was not effective. Use of snail mail and letters never got to reach most patients on time. Some stages in the complaints flow chart were deemed as less relevant III resolving complaints Some cases took too long to be resolved because a senior manager who was to cmment on the complaint was away on other duties for many days. Most patients did not know that there is a complaints tool to guide them when lodging complaints. The complaints tool is not readily accessible to the patients. Staff were unable to resolve on spot complaints and would refer patients to the PR Office to follow through all the stages of receiving feedback after loging a complaint. Based on the findings, the study concluded that in order for the complaints flow chart to work effectively; there was need for management to communicate and include the patients at all stages in their communication while trying to resolve their complaints. The study recommended that; Patients to be informed where their complaint has reached and how long it will take to get feedback back to them. Senior managers to be given strict deadlines and time frames to give feedback to the PR Office so that the patient is also made aware on time. Mambers of staff to be trained to deal with on spot complaints so that damage is minimised and the patient is assisted on time. The management to hire more customer care clerks to be situated at every information desk so that they readily assist clients. The hospital to make use of current media for example emails and telephone calls to contact patients about their complaints. The manamengt should also make patients aware of the complaints flow chart through posters and personnel at the customer care desks. Managemnt to urge the ombudsman to be aware and be active at all the stages of resolving complaints.