While it would be a great idea to review the previous page on angry patients to ensure that you have properly harnessed these concepts, there are some more tips that will help you to achieve success when navigating these difficult situations.
In spite of every attempt to be a great practice, there will still be these patients here and there who get upset or try to make you or your team feel uncomfortable or sad. Following these steps below will ensure that you handle each interaction with skill, and walk away from it with success.
- Always respond to complaints accordingly. If something is wrong and it is your fault, take responsibility. Customer service is one area where you must always be able to admit when you were wrong. The answer should always be geared towards helping to fix the patient’s problem. An excellent response to any complaint is apologizing when it is appropriate, and asking how you can fix this for them.
- Pay close attention to feedback, and reoccurring themes. Listen to what the patient is saying, don’t just let it go in one ear and out the other. Follow the Three Times Rule — if you hear something about your practice three times, whether you like it or not, you need to pay serious attention, as if it is most likely true. Prioritize taking action on whatever issue is present if it is reoccurring, especially when multiple different patients complain about the same thing.
- Don’t blame the patient. As with many customer-oriented businesses, the patient is (nearly) always right. Remediate errors and mistakes immediately, and do not blame the patient. Blaming patients erodes their trust and confidence. Treat them as valued ambassadors of your practice, because they are. Sometimes patients will be wrong, but believe they are correct. Understand that in these cases they will hold on to their “truth” even if it is not supported by facts, and may be stubborn about changing their mind. Apologize for how they feel, not what you did. Try to come up with a satisfactory solution. Avoid apologizing for something that is incorrectly assumed or understood.
- Know when to apologize and when NOT to apologize. When something goes wrong, apologize. DO NOT apologize when nothing goes wrong. Sometimes, people complain just to complain, or they may be trying to take advantage of their influence over your business to get something like a discount or other financial incentive. Apologizing when you’ve done nothing wrong will only worsen the conflict further. If you’ve done nothing wrong, instead apologize for how the patient feels or perceives what they are complaining about, and try to refocus the conversation on finding a solution.
- Avoid over-promising. As stated previously, it is absolutely imperative that you follow through on promises made to angry patients. Do not make a commitment to a patient that the company cannot keep economically, or that you do not know that you will be able to fulfill. Only promise what you can achieve, and then after the interaction make it your top priority to follow through with it as soon as possible.