Plan for unhappy patients with role-playing. At every monthly business review meeting, have a short session to role-play dealing with difficult patients, with one team member acting as the difficult patient and another team member responding to the patient. Everyone, including the participants, should critique the role-play in a fun and nonjudgmental manner. If people get it wrong, just laugh about it and work hard toward getting it right.
Don't be drawn into emotional confrontations. When dealing with an unhappy patient, stay focused on the issue at hand. If the patient criticizes you personally, don't respond in kind. Calmly restate the issue -- which usually redirects the patient's attention to the original concern -- and concentrate on resolving the problem to the patient's satisfaction.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the founder and CEO of Levin Group, the leading dental practice consulting firm in North America. For the complete list of dates and locations where you can attend his latest seminar, visit www.levingroup.com/gpseminars.
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