Listen to Patient Complaints to Fuel Practice Growth

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When building a team of practice CEOs, it’s important to train employees to not only ask themselves important questions, but to also listen to patients when they bring problems to their attention.

No one on your team wants to deal with patient complaints, so they often get ignored. Your hygienist smiles and politely listens as Mr. Smith complains about how long it took to get an appointment with the doctor, or how he wishes your practice offered evening hours. Once this loyal, outspoken patient is out of sight, the hygienist rolls her eyes and wonders why Mr. Smith is so cranky today.

That isn’t how successful CEOs respond to feedback from customers, and it certainly isn’t how your team members should handle patient complaints. Instead, they should see complaints as a gift and look for ways to turn them into positives for the practice. After all, if one patient is upset about something you better believe there are other patients who feel the same—they just didn’t take the time to tell you.

So how can you use patient complaints to benefit the practice? I suggest you start by making sure every team member knows about every patient complaint you receive. Put 3X5 index cards in your treatment rooms and at the front office. When team members hear a patient complaint, they should write it down on one of these cards and then place the card into a community box.

Share these cards during team meetings and use them to spark conversations about improvements that can be made in the practice. Don’t point fingers and remind team members not to take anything personally.

It’s also a good idea to use the index cards to record compliments. This helps give team members an idea of what the practice is doing right and lets them know their hard work is appreciated.

Want to get more feedback from patients? I suggest implementing patient surveys. You should be able to do this through your patient communication system. Take the feedback you receive seriously, and use any negative comments to improve your practice.

Sure, hearing patients complain about the practice can be annoying, but these complaints also can help you make necessary changes. Train your team of CEOs to take complaints seriously, and to look at them as an opportunity to improve rather than as an annoyance. This will lead to happier patients and a bigger bottom line.

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