30 Jan 2015  •  Practice Management  •  3min read By  • Emma John

Complaints – Welcome Them

Dealing with a complaint about something or someone in your practice isn’t always easy, but here Practice Manager and Dental Business Consultant Emma John explains how you can use complaints to your advantage.

With the demands for compliance against CQC standards being high on the list of priorities, and that’s not to mention the introduction of the Family and Friends regulations by the NHS, a robust and transparent complaints system is more important now than ever before.

This in itself could present a problem as we live in a society where consumers (including patients) want more for their money and if they don’t get it, well the complaints are just waiting to happen.

Complaints work as a two-way thing; as a consumer I feel I should be able to present my grumble. Granted it may not be important to the person on the receiving end of it, but to me it has a huge amount of relevance. However, it does bear the question, am I as receptive when I am on the receiving end?

It takes a huge amount of training to be truly empathetic and understanding to a complaint or feedback and it is only too easy to be encouraged to lose your temper and be reactive. Just as much as you need to be trained to deal with complaints, your team do too.

So, how can you ensure they’re totally prepared to deal with a complaint?

Well, they’re probably aware of the beautifully written complaints procedure which is safely stored away in the practice manual, but would they know to follow it to help handle and diffuse a situation?

The skill of listening to the complaint and then acting on it could be invaluable to your business. It’s something that can be acted upon and improved and a real opportunity to impress and excel in areas where other retail and hospitality businesses fail time and time again.

We’re all aware that patients discuss their experiences with friends and colleagues, but they can and will always try and focus on the bad. We need to give them a different story to tell, which is why you need to turn their complaint into a positive experience.

How can you do this?

  • It’s our job to listen and allow them to tell us exactly what is wrong, regardless of how frustrating the complaint or situation may be.
  • It’s important to stay calm, use positive, open body language, and encourage the conversation.
  •  Always ask what you can do to help. This shows that you’re willing to take action to help diffuse the situation.
  • Take notes. This demonstrates to the patient that their concern is important to you, plus taking notes will help you deal with the situation again should it reoccur.
  • Assure them you will look fully into the situation, and keep them informed.
  •  Finally, thank them for taking the time to speak to you; they may have just notified you of an important flaw in your management system.

For more articles on improving the processes in your practice, head on over to our Resource Library where you’ll find more fantastic articles with practical tips on doing so.

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