Welcome to the all-new Vetlearn

  • Vetlearn is becoming part of NAVC VetFolio.
    Starting in January 2015, Compendium and
    Veterinary Technician articles will be available on
    NAVC VetFolio. VetFolio subscribers will have
    access to not only the journals, but also:
  • Over 500 hours of CE
  • Community forums to discuss tough cases
    and networking with your peers
  • Three years of select NAVC Conference
    Proceedings
  • Free webinars for the entire healthcare team

To access Vetlearn, you must first sign in or register.

registernow

  Sign up now for:
Become a Member

Veterinary Forum October 2009 (Vol 26, No 10)

Doctor to Doctor — Calming the complainers

by Ronald E. Whitford, DVM

    It may be difficult to acknowledge, but the concerns of unhappy clients need to be addressed immediately.

    If client expectations are not met, it is important to learn how to address concerns in a professional, straightforward manner. The goal is to resolve conflicts and work toward an outcome that is beneficial to your clinic, your clients and your patients.

    Clients can become upset for many reasons, such as:

    • Finances
    • Treatment complications
    • Dissatisfaction with the level of service
    • Time conflicts
    • Poor communication
    • Lack of satisfactory information

    Conflicts do not go away if they are ignored; they must be dealt with head-on. Because of this, it is crucial to immediately address problems to avoid losing existing or potential clients. Dealing immediately with unsatisfied clients helps you gain insights that can improve the practice, avoid recurrence of similar problems and increase the chances of timely payment for services rendered.

    The first step to conflict resolution is letting clients know that the practice team values their honest opinion. Make it easy for clients to complain by having your staff ask open-ended questions that give clients ample opportunity to be honest and explicit.

    Classifying angry clients also may be helpful in resolving problems. Sometimes, even-tempered clients may have justifiable reasons to complain or they may simply be having a tough day.

    These encounters may become confrontational, so your staff needs to develop skills that allow them to deal with uncomfortable situations and soothe dissatisfied clients.

    Clients who complain need to be:

    • Listened to and taken seriously
    • Reassured that attempts will be made to avoid future inconveniences
    • Treated with respect

    The first rule of dealing with a dissatisfied client is not to take his or her complaints personally. Although some of the angrier complainers may hurl personal insults, staff members must control their anger. It is usually hard for a complainer to be angry at someone who smiles and refuses to fight back.

    Above all, veterinarians have a responsibility to resolve the complainer's concerns, minimize potential embarrassment to other clients and minimize disruption in the practice.

    Clients who are upset usually calm down if they feel they are being taken seriously and someone is willing to understand and address their issues.

    NEXT: Dog bites cost $387 million in insurance liability claims

    didyouknow

    Did you know... Each time veterinarians communicate with staff, they are marketing their vision and goals. Read More

    These Care Guides are written to help your clients understand common conditions. They are formatted to print and give to your clients for their information.

    Stay on top of all our latest content — sign up for the Vetlearn newsletters.
    • More
    Subscribe