Dealing With an Unhappy Patient – A Hidden Opportunity

Like it or not, at some point in our careers most of us will have to deal with an unhappy patient. No matter how adept our office staff, or how effective our chiropractic adjustments, an uncomfortable situation may arise.

How well we deal with that situation can mean the difference between a satisfied chiropractic patient or a angry one that blasts you to his/her friends and co-workers. He/she may even post a negative review with an online business directory.

But, if handled appropriately, a disgruntled patient may later become one of your strongest advocates.

First off, recognize that most patients often won’t complain directly to their doctor. Frequently, your staff will be the first to hear the rumblings of discontent. Train your staff to bring even the smallest patient troubles to your attention. If a patient does voice a complaint directly to you, recognize their level of frustration. Begin by listening carefully, and by showing appropriate concern. In many cases, problems can be resolved by this simple act.

If the problem is a simple one, like a long waiting time, or a scheduling error, offer to waive the patients co-payment for the visit. This small gesture will score big points with your chiropractic patients. On their next visit, instruct you staff to take extra care with the patient to ensure their satisfaction. If, at their arrival time you are with another patient, have your staff ask the patient if they would like therapy before the adjustment. In short, give him/her the royal treatment.

If the patient’s complaint centers around a slower than expected recovery, or pain experienced during or after treatment, spend extra time discussing realistic goals, their health history, and how it may affect their healing. If he/she is sore, offer him/her a free a free tube of Biofreeze or jar of Sombra.

If you receive a complaint about your staff, again, listen attentively. If the problem is significant, waive the co-payment, or if you have a service like massage therapy, offer a free 30 minute massage.

One note—don’t automatically discount the complaint. Patients can be hesitant to complain about office staff to their chiropractor. Often patients’ comments and complaints may surface only after the staff member in question has left the practice. So if you do receive a complaint, pay closer attention to how your staff deals with patients. If you find deficiencies, consider additional CA training.

Taking action is essential as your staff is vital to successful patient retention.

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