Often, irate patients aren’t angry with you. They are just frustrated by external situations that might be beyond your control. So, put your communication skills to work, learn to read the situation, and use these tips to handle irate patients:
1. Remain calm: When a patient starts yelling, you won’t gain anything by raising your voice and responding rudely. That will probably escalate hostilities. Take control of your emotions, even if the patient’s tirade makes you feel like yelling.
2. Don’t take it personally: Remember, the patient is not angry with you; he or she is displeased with your staff’s attitude or the quality of your service. Your personal feelings are beside the point
3. Listen to the patient: The first thing an angry patient wants is to vent his or her frustration. To allow them to do so, you need to listen. In most cases, just attentive listening will defuse the situation, as the patient will feel heard and acknowledged. When the patient is done talking, summarize what you’ve heard and ask questions to clarify their complaints further. Keep eye contact and sit up straight.
4. Sympathize: After the patient vents, he wants to know you understand where he’s coming from and how he or she feels. Express sympathy for their unpleasant patient experience. Respect and empathy will go a long way toward smoothing things over.
5. Apologize: Whether the patient’s complaint is legitimate or not is irrelevant. If you want her to remain a patient, you will need to apologize for the problem they are having. A simple statement is all that’s needed: “I’m sorry you’re not happy with our service. Let’s see how we can make things right.”
6. Suggest to resolve: Once you understand why the patient is unhappy, it is time to suggest a solution. Ask the patient how he would want to resolve the problem. In most cases, that’s all the patient is looking for—and may result in providing some satisfaction.
Handling difficult patients isn’t easy. Marketing experts at Practice Builders can help you handle sensitive situations and boost your patient retention rates.