Most dentists like to think that they are providing the very best service available, and that patients are grateful for it, but this is obviously not always the case. Sometimes dentists make mistakes, or do not provide the best experience for people, and it can make patients wish to lodge a formal complaint.
Obviously the best way to avoid negative press from complaints is to do your best not to give patients a reason to be annoyed. If you are constantly approachable, friendly and polite you should find that patients are much less likely to find fault in your work. However, this is not always easy to do after a long day.
The best way to deal with complaints is through damage control. It can be very damaging to your dental marketing if you get a reputation for providing poor service, so you need to make sure all complaints are dealt with politely and promptly. There is no need to be defensive; if a patient thinks you have done something wrong, it is usually better to accept this and placate them, unless the allegations against you are serious.
Luckily, dentists are helped out by the Dental Complaints Service (DCS), the industry body set up to deal with issues raised against private practices. In 2013, the organisation received 9,800 calls complaining in some way about a private dentist, and the DCS managed to resolve these issues at an average time of 6.5 days.
This marks an increase in the speed of complaint resolution. The DCS has reduced the time it takes for a complaint to be resolved from a week to just under. This is good news for dentists, as a prompt response impresses patients, and can make them more willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Hazel Adams, head of service at the DCS, said: “Our experience is that it’s beneficial to both patients and dental professionals for complaints to be resolved promptly. With this in mind, we’ve worked hard over the past year to reduce the average complaint resolution time.”