With the rise of social media and online connections, people are often encouraged to voice their opinions to the world. While doctors need to always be cautious with how they handle themselves online, they need to be prepared to deal with unhappy patients eventually. If you are about to engage in a big Facebook debate with a patient, or just got a nasty email, use this guide to help you diffuse the situation as quickly as possible.
Understand the Situation
The biggest thing you need to do is understand everything behind the rude message or comment. This means getting inside your patient’s head and learning their mindset. Are they mad because they got a diagnosis they didn’t agree with, or are they upset that the office staff didn’t treat them kindly during their visit? Knowing why they are upset can help you type up a more accurate response.
Even if your patient isn’t making a valid complaint, you still need to acknowledge them and say you are sorry. Be as specific as possible. This shows the patient that you are reading their every word and that you are willing to make things right. For example, “I’m sorry that we greet you today.” If your patient is generally unhappy, “I’m sorry you feel that way” can also be an appropriate response.
Offer a Solution
After you apologize, offer a solution. This doesn’t just help console your patient, it shows others that you are willing to make things right. Even if your social media profile doesn’t have a lot of likes, potential patients are still reading your responses and judging your practice. If there is no solution or you can’t go into their medical details publicly, invite them to contact you directly. Be direct and polite.
Speed is a Factor
While the Internet can be a great way to learn about problems and help improve the patient experience, information can also travel very quickly. A single complaint can turn into dozens if you aren’t careful. Simply responding as quickly as possible can help you diffuse the situation and helps you showcase your good customer service skills.
Dealing with unhappy patients doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply responding politely and offering solutions can help you transform a negative situation.