There are lots of ways that patients can show displeasure with the experience they have in an orthodontic practice. Most of the time if a prospective patient decides to seek treatment elsewhere, they will just go do it and vote with their feet. You’ll never hear from them again, you might wonder where they went but life will roll on. Some dissatisfied customers will make their displeasure known on social media – Yelp, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. offer everyone the chance to be a critic and make the case for why they think you suck. It’s annoying but it’s part of life and the more patients you serve, the more you’ll have to deal with this kind of thing. You can’t please all the people all the time and there will always be a certain percentage of people who are just going to be upset no matter what you do! You may message these social media critics and try to make amends for your missteps, real or perceived, but odds are they are gone and will never darken your door again.

But what does it mean when a patient takes the time to call your office or call you to tell you that they are unhappy and going elsewhere for orthodontic treatment? They could have said nothing or lashed out from the safety of any number of social media perches, but they didn’t. They called. That’s an important difference. What does it mean?

Odds are they are calling because they STILL WANT TO COME TO YOU! Think about it. Why else would they risk the possibility of confrontation or being proved wrong (two of the things humans fear most). It’s counterintuitive but in my experience most of the people who call to tell you what you did wrong will sign up on the spot if you can make them feel heard and appreciated. How do you do that? Easy! Listen to their concerns, address anything you or the team could have done better (real or perceived), give affirmation that the patient did the right thing to call, be grateful that the patient took time to call you, give a peace offering (free whitening, see them immediately or after school – one time, free retainers, gift card, whatever) and get them back in your office! Will this work every time? Absolutely not. But if you approach these situations with the right attitude it will work often.

Why wouldn’t you? Pride? Pride is expensive and infects us all! Pride can convince us to do things that are contrary to our best interests. Not just us, our employees can let pride lead them to do things that are downright bad for business because they don’t have the bank sitting on their shoulders waiting on that monthly payment!

Take this post as an opportunity to look at any complaints you get and how you handle them. Talk to your team about what patients are telling you – especially if you get repetitive complaints. Consider the possibility that the patient is not wrong! Keep an open mind and look at every encounter as an opportunity to improve.

Go get em tiger! You can do it.