If you work for a healthcare provider, you will encounter the occasional angry patient. Even if your practice has discovered the first real cure for aging and you’ve got the finest team on the planet, there will always be dissatisfied patients waiting to lash out at you for one reason or another.
It comes with the territory. People suffering from an illness can get easily frustrated when their day-to-day life is turned upside down. It’s only natural that an angry patient comes to you with their perceived problems regarding your practice. Whether they are justified or not, it’s your job to put your patients at ease and resolve their issues. Here are ten sensible ways to appease a disgruntled patient.
1. Get in Problem-Solving Mode.
Most of us want to avoid confrontation, however, the sooner you accept what is happening and decide to deal with it front on, the better your outcome will be. An angry patient may have reached a point where their sole purpose is to yell at you. However, if you decide to fight back, nothing will get resolved. So breathe, clear your mind, and tackle the issue with a calculated, problem-solving approach.
2. Don’t Interrupt the Angry Patient.
The more you interject, defend and argue, the longer and more heated the discussion will become. Throughout your entire conversation, make sure you’re doing your best to keep things calm. Relax your posture, slow your speech, and don’t interrupt when your client is talking. Minimize external distractions by putting your phone on silent or moving the conversation to a private area.
[bctt tweet=”The one thing you should never do when a patient is angry!” username=”remindercall”]
3. Apologize on Behalf of the Practice.
No matter how small or irrational the problem appears to be, apologize to your angry patient as soon as possible. They may feel mistreated by the clinic, and an apology is often all that it takes to calm them down. Even if your apology doesn’t pacify them completely, they will be in a much better frame of mind and can rest assured that you’re there to help.
4. Don’t Take It Personally.
Before you respond to a distraught patient, remember that when you’re sick, you’re grumpy too. If someone swears at you, realize that you may be dealing with someone who likes to use profane language for emphasis. You can’t afford to lose your cool in this situation. Understand that when your patients are rude, it’s nothing personal.
5. Devote All Your Attention.
When a patient faces a problem with your services, they’re looking to vent their frustrations on someone who can relate. That someone is you. So listen to what they have to say. Be genuinely interested in the issue, and you’ll notice a change in their demeanor. They will start to calm down, which, in turn, will ease the flow of communication.
6. Repeat After Them.
Just to be sure that you’ve fully understood a patient’s concerns, repeat what they’ve just said to you. You can do so in the form of a question. For instance, you could say: “So the nurse started your therapy late today, did she? I’ll have a word with her.” You not only clarify the complaint but show your patient that you’ve acknowledged and understood what they’re trying to say.
7. Empathy, Not Sympathy.
Instead of showing sympathy, show your patients that you understand them. Once you figure out the problem, explain how you would be just as distressed if you were in the same situation. If they were forced to wait a long time that day, say something like: “I totally understand. I hate waiting for my appointment to see the doctor, especially when I’m not feeling so well!”
8. No Excuses.
Under no circumstances should you handle a complaint with excuses. Avoid phrases like: “I’m not sure why your medications didn’t arrive today,” or “I have no idea where the nurse is.” If you can’t be of assistance, listen to their concerns and find someone who can help. If you try offering excuses, you’re going to stir up emotions even more, and you certainly don’t want that.
9. Offer Solutions.
Once you’ve taken the time to listen to the problem, you can start suggesting solutions. Do not to over-promise anything. Only make claims or offers that you’re authorized to do. If your patient seems dissatisfied with the suggestions, ask them how they think the issue can be resolved and work together till you arrive at an agreement.
10. Take a Break.
No matter how professionally you handled the situation, dealing with distressed patients can take its toll. So before you decide to jump back to the front desk and face the rest of your clients, take a walk or talk with someone who makes you laugh. This will help you mentally prepare for the next encounter.
Remember that it takes years to build a relationship and only a few seconds or a small misunderstanding to destroy it. It’s imperative that you stay on good terms with your patients at all times. Taking good care of distressed patients will save you from receiving bad online reviews, help you attract more patients, and impact the success of your practice.
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