NOV-DEC 2013

MedEsthetics—business education for medical practitioners—provides the latest noninvasive cosmetic procedures, treatment trends, product and equipment reviews, legal issues and medical aesthetics industry news.

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BUSINESS CONSULT | By Catherine Maley, MBA Positive Outcomes A little empathy and some learned skills can help you turn an angry patient into referrals. Perhaps you've experienced one of these scenarios: You receive an angry email from a patient who hates the way she looks. You read a one-star review of your practice online that states, 'stay away from this doctor!' Your patient coordinator walks into your office, closes the door and tells you there is an outraged patient waiting to see you in reception. Unsatisfied patients are, unfortunately, a reality in aesthetic practices. Having to face them is never easy, but if you know what to say and, more importantly, how to say it, you can successfully diffuse the situation. In fact, you may be able to build a better relationship with that patient than you had before. But turning an unhappy patient into a satisfied one does take skill and a well-formulated strategy. Follow the steps below to calm angry patients and turn dissatisfaction into appreciation. The patient is upset, and it's up to you to work with her to solve the problem. Adjust your mindset so that 100% of your focus is on the patient and her concerns. If a patient sends you a difficult email or a staff member relays an angry phone message, offer to meet with the patient in person to address her concerns. This will not only help to diffuse the anger—it's harder for most people to get truly angry face to face—it also shows that you genuinely want to address the concern and find a solution. Step One: Keep Your Attitude in Check Our first instinct when challenged is to close down, tense up and defend ourselves, which only makes things worse. Set aside any feelings you might have that the situation isn't your fault or that the patient is wrong. Stay calm and cool and work to resolve the challenging situation with grace and professionalism. If the patient is especially angry, talk slowly and calmly. This will help to subtly lower the tension and ensure that you don't escalate the situation. Step Two: Listen Actively This is the most important step. Start the dialogue with a neutral statement, such as, "Please tell me why you're upset." This subtly creates a partnership between you and your patient, and lets her know that you're ready to listen. Truly listen to what the patient is saying and resist the urge to interrupt or solve the problem right away. An unhappy patient wants to be heard and wants the opportunity to air her grievances. Try not to jump to conclusions about what happened. Instead, let the patient tell you her story. 16 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013 | MedEsthetics © THINKSTOCK The patient is upset, and it's up to you to work with her to solve the problem.

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