Avoiding Patient Complaints
In the past, if a patient wanted to complain about an experience they had in a dental practice, they would pick up the phone and ask to speak to the doctor or the office manager. Now there are other ways to complain that are not as confrontational, but more damaging because of the public display to a large number of people. Social media in the form of Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, Google and others offer a forum to exchange information both honestly and sometimes unreasonably dramatized. Many people look to online reviews prior to booking a hotel room, a restaurant reservation and a visit to the doctor or dentist, to name a few.
It is difficult and time consuming to remove a bad review or to challenge the review. The proactive measure would be to create a system to prevent complaints, allowing patients to communicate and resolve their issues without a public rant. The following is a list of ideas to implement in your practice to proactively mitigate the possibility of a bad online review.
1. Build the best customer service, from the first phone call to the post treatment phone call. Often patients will say that they have been treated rudely on the phone. Train the team to treat people on the phone like they are standing in front of them by giving them undivided focus and attention.
2. Let patients know how to contact you for complaint resolve. If you have an office email on the website for this purpose, make sure you monitor it daily and respond immediately. On your website under “contact us” have a section for compliments, comments, concerns and complaints. List phone numbers and email addresses that may be specifically for complaint resolve.
3. Build a positive reputation in your community. Become involved in the community and sponsor events that improve the living quality of those you serve. If there are enough people who know you and are happy with your care, it is less likely they will believe bad reviews.
4. Contact your patients for feedback after their first visit and after every visit when treatment with anesthetic is used. A qualified team member can be just as effective as the doctor when showing a caring practice. The team member might say “Doctor M. asked me to call you to see how you are doing after your visit with us today.”
5. Develop an online presence that shows you are accessible and listening. Check for reviews online at different sites as part of your quality control program. Immediately respond to negative reviews and work toward the resolve and removal.
6. Don't post fake reviews with fake accounts to falsely improve your ratings. If you are ever exposed it can be very embarrassing and certainly hurts your credibility.
7. Address the concerns with a listening, information-gathering manner and do not act defensive or blaming in any way.
8. Become part of the conversation by offering to make it right to the parties involved. Addressing the complaint in the same thread in a manner that shows you care will give credence to the issue.
9. Do not offer to pay anyone to remove their negative posts.
10. Analyze the circumstances that led to the negative review and make corrections to ensure it does not happen again.
11. Make sure that billing of dental insurance is accurate and that the procedures submitted were actually done. Often the procedures are scheduled, but in real time things can change and the appointment details are not changed to reflect that. Patients can be quite vocal when they feel they have been treated unfairly, especially when it concerns money.
The conversation for achieving positive reviews begins with the entire team and their participation in everyday patient care. The above list is excellent subject matter for a team meeting, and until there are changes in how online reviews can be removed it is imperative to be aware of your online presence.
Want to learn superior front office skills? Contact McKenzie Management today for a training course customized to the needs of your practice.
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