When the “stuff” hits the fan, it’s likely to clear the room. That’s the natural reaction. Nobody really wants to be on the receiving end… listening to the gripes and complaints of an unhappy customer…or unhappy patient.
It’s counterintuitive, but expert advice in customer service is exactly the opposite. Embrace that next complaint. Meet it head on and hear it out. You WANT to hear the negative issues or patient satisfaction will remain an elusive good intention.
You gain at least two significant patient experience benefits when you hear first-hand about a medical gripe.
1. A problem is revealed. And that’s a good thing. It might be a big deal or a little deal, but now you have the opportunity to implement a positive solution…and hopefully remove this thorn from troubling anyone else in the future. OK, it may never be a perfect world, but knowing (and fixing) the situation is far better than being unaware. Chances are one voice represents what’s bothering many others. And unattended, it’s all likely to get worse.
2. A negative issue can turn positive. There’s a certain satisfaction and relief for the unhappy individual in just being able to voice a troubling issue. And when a concerned person listens to a gripe, extends an apology, and proposes a solution, the atmosphere and attitude can often swing from animosity to appreciation. You don’t win every time, but left unresolved, no one comes out ahead.
Being proactive is a best practice strategy.
Of course, it’s even better if you can anticipate problem areas and head them off before they turn sour. The highly respected Consumer Reports has delivered some helpful research about what bugs patients most about your doctor. They asked 1,000 people—a nationally representative sample—about their biggest medical gripes.
Among the 16 issues ranked by patients, unclear explanation of problem topped the list. Consumer reports graphed it all out in their Gripe-o-meter. Being rushed during office visit was slightly more bothersome than long wait for doctor in exam or waiting room. [Their article is here.]
None of these issues are new or unique, and you can likely relate to some of them immediately. Knowing what will prove bothersome to most patients is a roadmap for anticipating problems and implementing proactive solutions…before they become a full-fledged gripe.