How You Can Recover More Of Your Unsatisfied Patients

Nowadays, patients have an abundance of healthcare organizations to choose from. So, if a patient had a bad experience at your office that went unamended, they'll likely choose another practice with a simple online search. Even if the majority of your patient base is satisfied, there will always be some unhappy patients. As the product marketing manager at a company that offers patient service recovery solutions, I believe service recovery in health care is essential to success.

What Is Service Recovery?

According to 2018 research from the Temkin Group (via MarketingCharts), "Only around one-quarter (27%) of U.S. consumers surveyed in Q1 reported [that they hadn't told anyone] about a recent very bad experience with a company." That's why giving your patients the opportunity to give your practice feedback directly is an important way to ensure patient satisfaction.

Service recovery involves identifying patient issues as and when they occur and acting immediately on fixing them for the purpose of:

  • Regaining their trust
  • Recovering them as patient
  • Turning dissatisfied patients into loyal promoters

Your patient service recovery program should allow patients to voice their complaints directly so you can help rectify them. In my experience, the chances of success are higher in service recovery when you act immediately after the patient has expressed distrust or unhappiness. When a patient feels that their dissatisfaction has been addressed immediately, they are far more likely to stay with your practice.

Steps To Patient Service Recovery

Patient service recovery is a simple six-step process that starts with asking patients about their experience and then effectively responding to their feedback. After a patient has given their feedback, follow these steps for successful patient service recovery:

1. Apologize: Say you're sorry for not meeting their expectations.

2. Listen: Listen to their point of view and explain how you plan to deal with the complaint.

3. Reconcile: Be empathetic and show the patient that you understand their situation.

4. Act: Fix the situation as quickly and fairly as possible.

5. Follow up: Find out if your patient is satisfied with your recovery actions.

6. Retain: Learn from the experience to keep your patients' trust.

A major takeaway when it comes to retaining patients is to avoid saying you can't help them. This process can be helpful even when the patient made a mistake, such as showing up on the wrong date. Responding to and helping to resolve their frustrations will go a long way toward retaining your patients.

Dr. Wendy Leebov, a national expert on healthcare service recovery, says that five criteria must exist for handling customer complaints:

  • Effective systems that encourage customer feedback
  • Guidelines for staff members to act independently
  • The feedback loop for developing a problem elimination process
  • Clear protocols for dealing with complaints
  • Awareness among staff members of service recovery skills

Overcoming patient dissatisfaction can help propel your healthcare organization forward. The more satisfied your patient base is, the more likely you are to retain and acquire patients. I've found that communication is directly related to patient satisfaction, so you should learn about your patients' expectations through direct feedback to help build pillars for a long-term relationship.

This article originally appeared on Forbes Communication Council as “How You Can Recover More Of Your Unsatisfied Patients"

Patient Experience

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Lauren Parr

Lauren Parr is the product marketing manager at RepuGen, a healthcare reputation management software. She is highly involved in all things RepuGen; marketing, sales, product development, etc and truly enjoys every aspect of it.

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