Complaints from your dental patients can be annoying, frustrating, and even hurtful. After all, you want only the best for your patients, and it can be hard to hear that you didn’t meet their expectations. Some patients are difficult, others have unrealistic beliefs about what is possible, and it can be tempting to simply ignore complaints, especially if you have a strong base of satisfied patients. However, it is extremely important to take every complaint seriously. Here are three reasons why.
Patients Will Leave
Patients want to feel like they matter to you. The majority of patients who are dissatisfied won’t bother complaining. They will simply find a new dentist. If someone goes to the trouble of complaining, he is likely a loyal patient who genuinely wants to help your practice improve. If you blow him off, though, he will no longer feel valued, and he will take his loyalty to another practice.
To keep patients in your practice, sit down and genuinely listen to what they have to say. Thank them for bringing up the issue, and then take active steps to improve the situation. This builds loyalty rather than destroying it. You don’t have to implement every patient suggestion, but you do need to take suggestions seriously.
Patients Will Talk
If your patients are happy with their experience at your practice, chances are good that they will recommend you to their loved ones. This is a valuable source of free marketing that can rapidly grow your patient base. If they’re unhappy, though, you can be sure they will spread that news as well. Whether they solely talk to friends and family or take their complaints to social media, you may find your patient list dwindling.
Avoiding this is as simple as making your patients feel heard. When someone complains, apologize and ask how you can fix the problem. Everyone gets complaints now and then, but how you turn them around makes all the difference to your reputation.
You Will Miss Out on Valuable Growth
Patient complaints let you know about difficulties that you might not even be aware of. Perhaps a patient is upset that he had to wait an extra half hour, or someone complains that the front desk staff brushed her off. You are in patient care all day, so you may not see what is happening in the front office. Or maybe a patient feels like you gave her an uncomfortable amount of nitrous oxide. You aren’t inside her body, so you can only see her outward reaction to the sedation.
Many times, fixing a situation that caused a complaint is easy once you know that the situation exists. Work with your scheduling coordinator to refine patient flow, coach the front desk staff in customer service, or ramp up delivery of nitrous oxide a bit more slowly. Complaints provide valuable feedback that can improve your overall efficiency and patient care.
Nobody enjoys hearing complaints, but patient complaints can be a true gift to your dental practice. Take the time to sit down and listen, apologize and validate the patient’s feelings, and work toward finding solutions. You will be surprised at how much positive change can occur.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.