The dental malpractice law field is alive with some companies encouraging patients to sue dentists. It is possible for dentists to have as many as three or more complaints lodged against them at a single time. This causes stress to dentists and dampens the quality of care provided for patients. Whilst we can’t, unfortunately, change the culture that allows this to occur dentists can take steps to try and manage their reputation and reduce the risk to have a suit.
These techniques can be used to improve customer interactions and try to mitigate any negative feelings or resentments patients may feel .
So how can dentists manage their reputation more effectively?
The most important place to start is with patient care. With often heinously busy schedules dentists can skip over some of the niceties of patient interactions. However, when it comes to the perception of patients these small interactions make a world of difference. Dentists are encouraged to open sessions with a little small talk – even if only a few seconds. This helps relax the patient and develop a personal rather than professional connection. Dentists who relate to their patients can cause patients to be less likely to sue or to leave negative reviews.
Make sure that during treatments dentists create lots of pauses and breaks for patients. Ask patients how they are feeling, whether they are comfortable, and whether they need a short break. If they are likely to suffer pain as a result of your treatments let them know so they can prepare. Dentists often tend to slip into bad habits with this element of practicing but it is essential to leave a good impression and create a good reputation.
Dealing with complaints quickly and effectively is essential to reputation management. If a patient complains make sure to personally respond and that you take the time to explain all the details about their concerns with them. This calm approach can often stop a complaint leading to further problems.
Online Reputation Management
In the modern age, online reputation management is more important than ever. Patients are using review sites like Google Plus, What Clinic and Yelp to choose their dental practices. Being able to manage your reputation on these sites is critical. I recommend tracking which websites host reviews of your practice and trying to positively influence them. The easiest way is to ask your best patients if they wouldn’t mind reviewing you on a particular website. If they like your service many actually will do this for you and it is a great boost to any business.
Friends and Family Test
For those in the U.K., it is a legal requirement in the National Health Service (NHS – not private sector) to ask patients the friends and family test. This test essentially asks people if they would recommend the services they have used and offers a range of responses.
Asking for Feedback
No one particularly enjoys receiving criticism but asking for feedback both online and in the practice is a great way to get ideas for improving your performance and your customer interactions. A simple two minute survey asking questions like “Is there anything we could have done today to improve your service” and “Did you feel your dentist listened to your concerns today” can give dentists great insights into how patients perceive the practice and service. This allows dentists to develop new methods for interaction with patients and can improve their reputation.