Improve Customer Service with a Suggestion Box

Posted on December 2, 2014 by Sandy Pardue

Suggestions2The lack of communication between patients and the practice is the number one factor associated with patients changing dentists. The problem is, most patients will not complain or let you know they are upset. These upsets come from a lack of understanding about treatment or financial arrangements, no one taking time to explain a procedure, they were promised something that didn’t happen, they felt rushed or something else was done that upset them. Most of the time practices never learn about the upsets and have no clue why their patient retention is so low. Patients just leave the practice and no one follows up.

When thinking about improving patient communications and retention, consider adding a Suggestion Box to your reception area. If you never learn the problems, you can’t correct them. Patient complaints are inevitable, no matter how wonderful your practice may be. You need to be prepared to welcome them and handle them. Practices should always welcome complaints, because it is the only way to get a second chance to make it right.

You can purchase a Suggestion Box like the one pictured below. You can make a card or purchase one already made up. If you decide to make one, include the following questions:

  1. Were we able to accommodate you in a timely manner?
  2. Were you pleased with the general flow of your appointment?
  3. Did you find our team friendly?
  4. Did you feel like the doctor and team did an adequate job explaining your treatment plan?
  5. Are there any areas in which our service could be improved?
  6. Other Comments or Suggestions:

If you hear of an upset patient, always have the designated person in the practice contact them that same day. Write up everything you know about the situation so the person contacting the patient will have all of the information. Listen to their side of the story and empathize with them. Do whatever you need to do to remedy the problem Always thank them for the feedback, inform the doctor and note the computer so you have a record of what happened and how it was handled.

When responding to the patient’s upset many practices become defensive which is the incorrect approach. Never discount what the patient is saying (“We don’t do that here. You don’t understand. Don’t be so upset. That couldn’t happen here.”). Never ever argue with a patient, make excuses or hang up on them.

When you confront the patient complaints, you can create an even more satisfied patient who will return and tell all their friends and family positive things about your practice and your dentistry.

After talking to the upset patient you could put a nice handwritten note in the mail and include a gift card for a car wash or another special treat.