Patient complaints are often a gift in disguise. They give you the opportunity to demonstrate exceptional service, improve the patient experience, and solve a problem that other patients may be experiencing, but haven’t yet voiced.

When dealing with complaints, it’s key to have a specific process in place to ensure that your communication is effective, tension is diffused, and you’re able to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome that addresses the issue at hand.


Assign one person to manage the complaint

Though multiple people might be involved in various steps of the solution and managing the problem itself, it’s important that the patient knows who to contact and has a clear line of communication.

It’s intensely frustrating trying to get in touch with a business, only to be transferred between staff members and repeating yourself a dozen times.

To help make the process stress-free for both patient and practice, just simplify things and have one team member managing the complaint who can delegate practical tasks as necessary.


Listen, acknowledge, and take the heat out of the situation

The worst thing you can do is fight fire with fire, argue back, or allow yourself to become emotionally charged. That will only lead to increased tensions, sometimes abuse and profanity, or even having your name smeared in public or social media.

Patients voice their complaints in order to be heard, understood, and have their issues validated. By simply listening and empathising with their frustration, you can prevent them from badmouthing the practice, and often you’ll be able to resolve matters and keep them as a patient.


Work with the patient to test possible solutions

Once the situation is less heated and intense, you can get to work on finding a solution in a way that is effective for both patient and practice.

You have the opportunity to work directly with the affected patient and propose different solutions, perhaps even test a few, and get honest feedback about whether or not this solves their issue.

The affected patient will appreciate seeing that you take their experience seriously and are implementing legitimate steps to address the problem for both them and other patients.


The recovery paradox

It’s actually very common for previously irate patients to become some of your biggest advocates after seeing you manage their complaints and address their issues.

I’ve experienced it first-hand in my own practices, where we’ve managed a patient’s complaint who was then so appreciative that they went on to refer numerous people and remain fiercely loyal.

Keep that in mind throughout the resolutions process and know that this is a great opportunity to deepen your relationship with a patient, demonstrate your focus on quality service, and build an even greater reputation.


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3. Attend a Practice Max Intensive live event

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