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 As she's talking, don't think about what you're going to say when she's done. And don't allow your staff or incoming phone calls to interrupt this conversation. Give your patient all of your attention. This lets her know that you respect her and her concerns. Oftentimes, actively listening diffuses the majority of the patient's anger, making her more willing to listen to you and work with you to find a solution. Step Three: Reiterate the Patient's Concerns Once your patient has explained why she's upset, repeat her concerns as you understand them to be sure that you're addressing the right issue. If you need to, ask questions to more correctly identify the problem. Before moving on to solutions, add one more question: "Is there anything else?" This helps derail additional concerns the unreasonable patient might want to add later. Never admit fault. You are only acknowledging her feelings of dissatisfaction and repeating back what you are hearing. Using calm, objective wording, you can ask, for example, "As I understand it, you are upset because you feel you didn't get the flat stomach you envisioned. Is that right?" Step Four: Present a Solution Now you need to present the unhappy patient with a solution. There are two ways to do this: 18 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013 | MedEsthetics Step Five: Take Action and Follow-up Once you've agreed on a solution, you need to take action immediately. Explain every step that you're going to take to fix the problem. This will counter the patient's desire to complain about you to her friends online and offline. Once the situation has been resolved, follow up with the patient over the next few days to make sure that she's happy with the resolution. Whenever you can, go above and beyond expectations. For instance, you could send a gift certificate or a hand-written thank-you note for bringing her concerns to your attention. Dealing with unhappy patients is never easy, but if you handle the situation well, you may be able to improve your existing relationship, and create both additional referrals and a returning patient who is anxious to undergo future aesthetic procedures with your practice. Catherine Maley, MBA, is the author of Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying and president of Cosmetic Image Marketing, a marketing firm that offers practice building tools, staff training products and consulting services. Contact her at 877.339.8833, © THINKSTOCK An unhappy patient wants to be heard and wants the opportunity to air her grievances. If you feel that you know what will make your patient happy, tell her how you'd like to correct the situation. You could say something like, "I know you want more fat taken from your stomach so you have a choice. We can go back into the surgery center and you will only be charged for the surgery center fees and I'll waive mine, or I can do a complimentary touch-up in my office under local anesthesia. Which would you prefer?" If you're not sure what your patient wants from you, or if she resists your proposed solution, then you might want to give her the power to resolve the situation. For instance, you could say, "If my solution doesn't work for you, perhaps you can tell me what would make you happy. If it's possible, I'll do it and, if not, we'll continue to work on a mutually beneficial solution." If you ask a dissatisfied patient what she wants, however, there is a good chance she will ask for her money back, so think about it. Would it be worth it to you to make this problem go away? If the answer is yes, it is still a good idea to add stipulations to the request. For example, you could have the unhappy patient sign a gag order that says you are not accepting guilt. You are only satisfying the patient by returning the money she feels is owed her and, in return, the patient will not say a disparaging word about you, your staff or your practice to friends, family, social media sites or review sites. (Please check with your attorney on the exact wording. You might want to prepare a form like this in advance.)

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