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Why you should review complaints with curiosity

Have you ever had that heart sinking moment when you receive a complaint about your practice? You hear the words and you just panic and wonder 'how did this occur?', 'where did things go wrong?'. Complaints about your practice or service can arise for many reasons, and while we obviously don’t want to receive a complaint, it’s vital that we are pragmatic and understand how to accept and manage complaints.

There are all sorts of reasons that your practice might receive a complaint. They could be due to:
- Communication breakdown
- Unrealistic client goal setting/expectations
- A circumstance where the service or item provided was in fact not optimal
- External factors (like an inability to park, or the referrer accidently informing the client it was a free service)
- There was a mismatch between what you were saying you would offer, and what you did actually offer; a mismatch in your brand promise.

Whatever the reason, what we need to know is that the way we manage a complaint and deal with it is very important. It is so easy to immediately feel defensive and ready to rebut the complaint! You work hard! You put your heart and soul into your practice, and you have everyone’s best interests in the forefront of your mind every day! How can someone accuse you of not caring enough, or not getting it right?! But we should not look at a complaint like this. We need to change our own internal language and instead, learn to receive the complaint with curiosity – remember that feedback (including complaints) are a gift in your service improvement strategy.

So what can we do when we receive a complaint? Here are 4 things to think about when you receive a complaint.

1. Firstly – don’t panic! Be thankful. This is a chance to improve an area of your practice.

2. Acknowledge the complaint. Let the person know that you take their feedback seriously and thank them for making the effort to let you know. Advise them that you will look into their complaint and get back to them about it. This is an important step to take. Sometimes it can take a lot of courage for a client to let you know they were unhappy about something or that your service didn’t match their expectations. Acknowledging the time and effort they have taken to let you know helps the client to feel a sense of relief that they made the right decision and feel a level of trust in you because you are going to do something about it.

3. Do what you say you are going to do. If you are going to get back to the client about the situation, by a certain time, then do it! Putting it to the bottom on the pile only creates an opportunity for the client to feel even more irritation with your service.

4. Whether the complaint is lodged verbally with you or administration staff, or written in an email or letter to your practice, it is important to be consistent in your handling of complaints and have a process to follow in the event a complaint arises. This is beneficial for you (and staff if you have them) as there is a clear pathway to complaint resolution. If you don't have a written Complaints Policy in place, and accessible, think about developing one over the next week. Your policy needs to outline how you will collect information about the complaint – for example, will there be a form? You then need to outline who will review the complaint, and then what happens, such as who calls the client, when, and what are some options for resolution.

If you are not sure where to start or are running short of time in your practice, you can purchase a template for your practice or service in our shop.

Remember to change your own language first and foremost so if you receive a complaint, you aren’t going into a defensive mood. Feedback, both good and bad, is crucial. It helps us see our practice from all angles and continue to work knowing where to improve and what our clients value from us.

Have a great week!

Read 194 times Last modified on Tuesday, 07 November 2017 13:03

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