What an angry patient can do for you

May 24, 2012
Issue 5

Your most valuable patient is not the the one who wants to shout his or her love for you and your services from the rooftops. Your most valuable patient is the one who left your practice dissatisfied and vowing never to return. According to Ron Hurley, consumer advocate and author of the book Unscrewed: The Consumer’s Guide to Getting What You Paid For, disenchanted customers can tell you, as no one else can, where you are utterly failing.

Your most valuable patient is not the the one who wants to shout his or her love for you and your services from the rooftops. Your most valuable patient is the one who left your practice dissatisfied and vowing never to return.

According to Ron Hurley, consumer advocate and author of the book Unscrewed: The Consumer’s Guide to Getting What You Paid For, disenchanted customers can tell you, as no one else can, where you are utterly failing.

"Surveys can provide valuable insights, but they don't reach those customers you need to hear from the most," Hurley wrote in his Inc.com article How to find your most valuable customer. "Those folks aren't going to take the time to fill out a form or stand still for a survey to help you fix your business. They've moved on."

Hurley advises you to find out where they've moved on to, and why. Start with these steps.

Identify

Luckily, locating your most disenchanted patients usually isn't that difficult; just ask your support team. In a dental practice, this support team can mean your office manager, dental assistant or hygienist. They'll remember who they are. Get their numbers. Find a quiet place. Get ready to hear some criticism. Be prepared to learn some important information that may give you the chance to repair problems you didn't even know you had.

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Engage

Imagine what it would mean to a patient to receive a personal phone call directly from his or her dentist. Not the receptionist, or another member of the dental staff.

And once you have them on the phone, you'll need to remember that this person didn't start out angry. At some time in the past, he or she made an affirmative decision to come to you–they believed in your dental practice and your offering. Only later did they discover a problem.

Your goal is to find out what happened, and why, so that you can fix it. As you call them, keep that in mind. They were in love with you--or at least liked you enough to practice dentistry on them. Now, they're like jilted exes--wondering what they ever saw in you and not really wanting to give you the time of day.

Act

If you can identify where your patient's experience was negatively impacted, it can be among the easiest problems to fix–and will help you prevent any number of similar situations in the future.

And you get all that for the price of a phone call–and a few minutes of your time.