Win your patients back with smart complaints management

Let’s talk about patient satisfaction for a second. Patient satisfaction might be one of the most reliable tools to measure the quality of dental care you’re offering to the patient. Not only is it an ethical indicator of the clinical outcomes and patient retention, but it also efficiently helps gauge the level of timely and patient-centric delivery of care in your orthodontic clinic.

But despite your best efforts, it is just not possible to satisfy every patient that strolls into your office. There is no wisdom in being compliant with every request your patient puts forth, especially if you understand it not to be in the best interest of the said patient. For cases like such, you need to change your stance and deal objectively and unemotionally with the criticism and dissatisfaction of your patients.

This is a perfect opportunity for you to learn from this and to create a basis for your practice’s development and improvement.

How can you manage complaints efficiently?

Complaints management is about resolving individual complaints or concerns and identifying opportunities to make systemic improvements for the betterment of your practice. Every dental clinic, or every organization that deals with the public, for that matter, will receive complaints. It is in your best interest to respond to these complaints with stealth and sensibility.

For many, it may be particularly difficult to deal with criticism since it is so emotionally charged. For this, we have structured the L.A.T.T.E. method.

What is the L.A.T.T.E. method?

The L.A.T.T.E. method, originally implemented and popularized by Starbucks, is a noteworthy tool that is used to handle customer complaints and works across many different types of customer services.

In the dental setting, for questions like “What do you value as our greatest strength?” or “Where do you see our greatest development potential?”, you can use the L.A.T.T.E. method to unearth valuable criticism that can be potentially converted into developmental spectacles, if only handled correctly.

This is how the L.A.T.T.E method works:

  1. Listen: Keep strong eye contact and be quiet as you listen carefully to what the patient has to say. Your goal here is to understand the core problem disguised in a mostly emotional delivery, and in doing so, you must remain as calm and collected as possible. Consider practicing the four-second rule: breathe in and out in the first four seconds to allow yourself to be relaxed and composed. However, refrain from sighing!
  2. Acknowledge: Next, you need to show your patient that you’re fully aligned with their grievance by verbally confirming it. By clarifying that you’re taking care of it, you’re not admitting to guilt, neither is it an excuse. Simply explain it to the patient so that they can comprehend why you did what you did and where the misunderstanding lies. Use phrases like “I understand that you are dissatisfied. Did I understand correctly that you are unhappy with [name the problem]?” and listen intently to what they have to say. Don’t forget to again acknowledge it.
  3. Take action: Assure your patient that you’ll do everything in your power to resolve the issue and immediately get to work. This is a great opportunity for you to turn your patient’s bad experience into a positive one.
  4. Thank them: Show them how problem- and patient-oriented you’re by thanking them for the hint. This is a great time for you to show your patients just how much their satisfaction means to you. Did you know that 80 percent of customers who complain are willing to forgive you if something goes wrong? However, 99.9 percent are likely to resend you the complaint if you do not take them seriously or address their issue sensibly!
  5. Explain: End on a high note by talking to your patient and explaining the results. By making sure they know that you did everything you could to solve the problem, you’re encouraging patient loyalty. This is because 50 percent of customers who initially complained will be enthusiastic about your solution and even give positive assessments that good complaint and error management has been implemented.

An effective system of complaints management is an integral part of providing quality customer care and service. As the owner of your dental practice, you must train your staff to be open, accountable, responsive, fair, and efficient in the way they deal with your patient’s complaints.

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