Do's and don'ts for dealing with difficult patients

Even if you have a five-star customer service practice, you'll still have patients who are deemed difficult. The difficult patient often upsets the staff, sends negative reverberations throughout the practice, causes stress and frustration, and can even cause a loss of revenue based on their behaviors and the amount of time you need to put in to deal with them. Ultimately, the goal is to manage and satisfy difficult patients as quickly as possible.

Practice Success Do

Ask the patient how you can make the experience better. Difficult people are often difficult in anticipation that no one is going to listen to them. Asking a patient what could be done for the appointment to be more comfortable, convenient, or enjoyable often disarms the difficult patient. This is your best chance of moving the patient back into rational and logical behavior.

Practice Success Dont

Don't let it bother you. Many dentists and team members internalize the difficult patient's behavior or comments and allow her to ruin their day. Your reaction to the difficult patient should be to figure out what you can say or do to relieve the stress and possibly satisfy them.

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 [email protected].

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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