Hello and thank you for your interest in this article. Today we are going to look at four ways to reduce the chance of patient complaints in your daily practice -- win patients' trust, manage their expectations, offer free replacement and refund the treatment fees. You can find communication hacks after each point which will help you achieve your goals quickly. Let's start.
1. Win Patients' Complete Trust
Trust is gold. If patients trust you, it means that you are on your way to creating 'win-win' situations. Also, if treatment does not succeed, patients may continue to trust you because most people like to appear consistent in their behaviour. If you handle things correctly and put patients' interests first, gaining their trust will be no problem.
- “Mrs Oliver, I would like to take a picture of your tooth. I want you to see what I see. Is that okay?” -- Establishes a shared perspective by displaying real evidence of the patient's real problems.
- “You see, Mr Pratt, we treat humans, not just teeth. Also, we treat people as we like to be treated”
- “I want to solve all the problems in your teeth with a magic wand so that seeing the dentist is not a factor in your life at all, anymore” -- Using a metaphor to explain your sincere desire to help the patient. At the same time, a suggestion is being passed into the subconscious that the patient has no fear from the dentist. Moreover, the patient is primed to have all dental problems solved.
- “Mrs Richardson, you have many fillings in your teeth. I wonder how necessary it was to have such big fillings. I can reassure you that I will attempt minimal drilling when you need things done.” -- Dissociates the dentist's personality from the ideas of drilling and pain
2. Manage Expectations
What you say to patients can make a whole lot of a difference. Words are powerful instruments and you need to use them wisely. Define the limits of your presentation by using frames. Frames are like magic borders around your ideas and thoughts. They define the context of what is possible, why it is possible, how it is possible, whom it concerns. Frames establish the context and everything that follows is assumed to relate to that context. Ideally, frames will be set as the first things you say to patients. Frames should be very easy to understand because people easily agree with them. Always keep the messages positive.
- New patient exam
- “I like to take all my patients to a place where they have no complaints from dentistry. You will come every six months, we do a bit of a scale, shake hands and you don’t need to do anything. This is the level of dentistry I like for all my patients and they, oh, just love it!”
- Consultation for an NHS bonded crown on a back tooth
- “Mrs Bird, your tooth needs to be fully covered and a classic way is to use a thin metal cap. This is by default on the NHS for back teeth and it will help you chew better. I am happy to go the extra mile for you and make it tooth-coloured where possible. Would you be happy?”
- Dentures vs Implants
- “Mr. Ransom, have you worn a denture before? I think you need something else which can’t fall from the mouth and gives you that confidence of not seeing any gaps before you go to bed. Would you prefer this?”
3. Offer Free Replacement
Treatment can fail for many reasons. It would be unfair to blame failure on one factor and we know that it’s difficult to explain all reasons at once. Therefore, pick a theme and make it simple to understand.
- Chipped crown
- “Mr Terry, we made a solid cap for your back tooth 9 months ago and I can see a chip in the porcelain. Have you noticed any sharp edges? I could replace it with a new one and it means more drilling in the tooth. It’s not visible when talking and smiling. Provided that the tooth doesn’t bother you, you can leave it as it is. What do you prefer?”
- Lost filling
- “Mrs Bradbury, we did a filling for you 4 months ago and I cannot see it in the mouth. Have you felt anything? I am happy to give you a replacement free of charge, normally worth (x) pounds. If it fails again means that the tooth doesn’t like the material and may need something else. Are you okay with this?”
4. Refund Immediately
The patient is not happy. Again. They have tried to persevere with the results of your treatment but things never felt right. Or worse, things completely got out of hand after you gave them your best treatment -- your most expensive white filling, crown, denture, implant. They begin to question your expertise, knowledge and skills. They start to feel betrayed and there is no way to change this.
Yes, there is. Give them their money back. No questions asked.
- “Mr Smith, I know that you have been trying to enjoy the result of your treatment and it has been very difficult to notice improvement. The happiness of my patients is a priority and even making one patient satisfied makes me think that it’s been worth it. Because of this, I am ready to give you a refund of your fee. We know that everyone deserves to be happy in life and I know this is ultimately your decision.”
- “Mrs Daniels, I have sincerely given the best of my skills for your case. The last possibility that I think is fair, is to refund the fee. I am sorry this is happening to you and I hope that you are happy with this decision. I want you to remain our patient and I will do my best to find an appropriate specialist to send you to.”
Dentalchemy.com is an educational hub which specialises in communication mastery and persuasive selling for dentists. They have released "The Dentist HackBook Of Selling" as a compelling collection of communication and selling techniques which dentists were never taught in school.