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How to handle complaints

Despite that you give the best possible care to a patient every single time, you will eventually receive a complaint, a criticism or a comment about your practice or your care.

Complaints are an unwanted situation. Nobody wants them but at some point in your career you will probably have to deal with them. Remember, most claims and disciplinary inquiries start life as a simple complaint so dealing with them early can make the resolution easier.

Complaints can be hurtful, and even demoralising but research shows that dealing with a complaint well often strengthens the loyalty of the customer so there is always an incentive to deal with them well.

Considering that most dental staff don't have any sort of formal training in dealing with complaints training yourself to be a good communicator will allow you to handle them better.

Consider implementing a proactive approach to identifying potential complaints. Remember, the majority of people do not actually complain, instead they simply leave and bring their business elsewhere.

There are many ways of identifying possible dissatisfaction:

  • Comment cards - usually completed by clients who are particularly upset or particularly happy. Leave your comment cards in an area not visible to staff to ensure that clients feel more comfortable filling them out.
  • Surveys - You could send out a survey to your patients. This is relatively cost effective, as all it takes is an email which you could easily send from your dental software. If your dental software doesn't have this capability then there are other ways to get your clients to fill out a survey.
  • Train staff to identify body language. An upset customer is easy to read. You could deal with complaint quicker.

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