Do’s and don’ts for handling dissatisfied patients

Levin Practice Success Resized

No matter how hard you and your team try, you will sometimes disappoint patients. Complaints may be unfair, but your reaction must be positive and controlled. Think of any criticism as a clue as to how you can improve the quality of service you provide, and try not to take it personally.

Practice Success Do

Respond immediately and sincerely. Train your staff to respond to any complaint in a thorough and professional manner. In your training, guide your employees to ask the patient for an explanation of the problem, take notes about it, and bring you, the dentist, into the conversation as soon as possible. Genuine concern about what happened should be demonstrated at all times, and the patient should be assured that the issue will be addressed. 

Practice Success Dont

Don’t forget to thank those who’ve complained for helping you make improvements. Whether there’s a real problem or a perception of one, make whatever changes are needed to alleviate it. Then contact the patient personally by phone, email, or mail them to apologize again for the problem, express your thanks for calling attention to it, and explain exactly what you have done to solve it. In this way, a dissatisfied patient will usually be converted into a strong advocate for your practice.

Dr. Roger P. Levin is CEO of Levin Group, a leading practice management and marketing consulting firm. To contact him or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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