I know you do not want to think about your patients ever being unhappy, but even when you are top of your game things can go wrong.

Your patients have many things happening in their lives and 2020 has been an extreme year of stress with the whole world turning upside down, so it is no surprise that from time to time a patient will be unhappy with their dental experience.

What happens next?

Sometimes your patients, who have many negative things happening in their lives, can over-react and you can be in the firing line!

The test is how you handle this situation.

Do you act professionally and calmly, or do you add to your patient’s over reaction?

When I am listening to calls coming into Dental Offices, I hear both sides of the call. I hear both the patient’s side and how the dental office responds. There are teams who can handle these calls well, and those that don’t. Most of the time, it’s because they are not prepared for the discussion with an unhappy patient.

Your team must be ready and prepared to deal with the unhappy patient on the phone call with the least amount of indifference and tension.

The steps to follow on the call:

The first step on the call with an unhappy patient is to be quiet and listen.

You then want to find out who you are speaking with so you can use the patient’s name during the phone conversation. This is also a great way to get the patient’s attention.

Avoid interrupting the caller. You will need to ask a few questions so you can gather more information before offering help or a solution.

During the conversation with an unhappy patient, let the patient speak and offer understanding and empathy.

Ok, I suppose by now you are thinking, what if everything the patient is saying is wrong. That can happen and sometimes the customer is not always RIGHT!

Being agreeable is the key to success:

But on the phone when you are listening to an unhappy patient you MUST be agreeable even if you don’t quite agree.

A great technique to help you develop the art of being agreeable, is to nod while you are trying to agree. It is hard to be disagree with someone while your head is nodding positively. Try it?

The most important part of this type of call is to remain as neutral as possible, then swiftly, after the call has finished speaking, suggest the next step to a resolution.

What to avoid next:

Always avoid offering advice that only a dentist should and can offer. You may also have to refer to the others on the team to find out more about the situation. So be careful!

You could very quickly dig yourself into a deep hole and make the unhappy situation even worse!

Most of the time the patient is wanting some sort of solution, or action, to finding a solution.

Try to avoid a lengthy call that could get out of hand.

Once you have a solution, call the patient back immediately.

Any delay will make the situation worse.

The Solution:

Be generous in your solution.

Consider the fall out of an unhappy patient.

Your patient may be a long-term loyal, referring patient who will not return, and tell 10 friends about their unhappy experience.

Always way this up when offering a solution.


Jayne Bandy is a certified CX Experience coach.
Jayne works with her husband Dr. David Moffet to help SME businesses improve their Customer Service Systems to create memorable World Class experiences for their valued clients and customers. Click here to find out how Jayne and David can help your business