It takes compassion and patience when dealing with the unhappy cosmetic patient but it’s well worth it when growing your practice.
For the most part, you have nice patients who are reasonable and pleasant to work with. Some of them have given you great reviews but every plastic surgeon had bad reviews that will not go away.
Long story short, these patients had unrealistic expectations and, no matter what you tried to do to make them happy (or at least not unhappy), they preferred to bad mouth you online.
So, how can you make an unhappy patient happy before it gets to the point where they are complaining about you online?
Unhappy Patient Hurt Your Online Reputation
Thanks to online patient reviews, directories like Real Self, and social media, it is too easy today for an unhappy patient to blast you, your credibility and your reputation. A bad review takes the unhappy patient minutes to write but follows you around for years.
That makes it necessary to anticipate and continually improve upon all aspects of the patient experience with you because it’s not about just that one consultation, treatment or procedure they have with you.
It’s about setting up processes so that the prospective patient is happy and satisfied with their experience and result from beginning to end.
But what do you do with the occasional unhappy patient? How do you make them happy?
Here are proven strategies to turn them around:
Show the Cosmetic Patient You Care
The majority of cosmetic patients rarely badmouth you IF they feel a connection with you. Most of them would actually be quite forgiving if they felt that you cared about them.
For example, the cosmetic patient has got to feel as important after they pay you as they felt before they paid you.
You never want them to feel dismissed by having someone else see them for their post op appointments and having only your staff call them to see how they’re doing. That means:
YOU make the follow-up call to see how they are doing
YOU see them for their post-op appointment
YOU give them your cell phone for emergencies
Even though you’re super busy, taking minutes out of your day/evening here can save you many hours and dollars down the road.
There is a saying in our industry that says, “They won’t sue you if they like you” so keep that in mind.
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Listen to your patients. You can’t solve a problem you don’t know you have, and that’s why listening is critical.
Oftentimes, the patient just needs to vent – for whatever reason. If you let them, it can diffuse 80% of their anger so they calm down and are now in a rational state of mind to talk and come up with solutions.
You don’t have to agree, dispute or negotiate what they are saying.
Keep your ego in check and squash defensiveness. Although the patient may be attacking your skills or integrity, keep your cool and remember the objective here is to neutralize the unhappy patient so they don’t damage your reputation.
Don’t make excuses, don’t qualify and definitely don’t disparage the patient for speaking their mind. Just listen and learn.
Make a Sincere Apology
This is tricky because you don’t want to admit wrongdoing; however; you do want to acknowledge your sincere concern for your patient’s feelings.
Be honest with yourself. Is the patient being completely irrational or is their room for improvement in the result they got?
The answer is usually somewhere in the middle so apologize for the situation and acknowledge how they feel by saying something like, ““Sara, I’m sorry you’re not happy with (me, staff, result) so let’s talk about a solution.”
Find Out What The Cosmetic Patient Wants
Now it’s time to make it right. Find out what the cosmetic patient wants. Ask a simple question like, “What is it you want me to do for you?”
Did you notice you are NOT admitting guilt here. You are simply acknowledging their feelings.
There’s a good chance it’s going to be easier to appease them than you thought. If it is something reasonable, why not give it to them and move on?
If the unhappy patient wants more than that, like a refund, it’s best to contact your lawyer to draw up an agreement to go with it so they agree not to talk about you online or offline.
"Catherine outlined a plan that put key metrics in place, gave us a clear plan to follow throughout the year and trained our staff to increase their conversions by at least 10%. Since engaging with Catherine, I’m happy to report that revenues are up 15% over the last three months - 22% in the last month alone! I highly recommend Catherine’s consulting services to any practice looking for “best practice” additions to their operation."
Robert Sigal, MD
"I have finally tapped into the most efficient way to grow my cosmetic practice and that is to “fish in the pond of my own patients”. When patients return to my practice, over 85% will purchase another service, product, or procedure. Not only was it worth over $200,000 in revenues this past year, it also reminds my patients I’m still around so they don’t wander off to my competitors. Catherine’s group has far exceeded our expectations and goals we had set up for them to achieve."
Victor Ferrari, MD
"Our consult conversions were running at 40-50%. Then we attended Catherine’s online training and implemented her strategies. They immediately increased conversion rates to 75-80%."
Anthony Corrado, MD
"I know how to run a profitable practice; however, it was not without major staff issues, inefficiencies and unproductive drama. With Catherine's guidance, I reorganized staff, set up processes for them to carry more of the workload and hold them accountable so I have more time to focus on patient care. The changes we put in place and the staff training to convert more callers and consultations will easily increase my revenues by 15% as well as save us time, money and costly mistakes. "
Evan Sorokin, MD
"Working with Catherine and her team has been very profitable. We’re only half way through the year and I’m up $200K and I’m booked out for the next 2 months even though we typically go into our slow summer months now. Her recent promotion brought in an extra $63,782 with more surgeries scheduled. I never realized how much money was sitting in my patient list but I’m a believer now!"
Robert Langdon, MD
"Catherine Maley has one of the best Marketing Minds in the aesthetic industry, bar none. She understands the aesthetic patient and she also understands the challenges and frustrations we face as aesthetic surgeons. You will benefit from Catherine's tools whether you are new in practice or a seasoned professional.Turn to Catherine for guidance - she knows what she's talking about."
Edwin Williams, MD
“Catherine’s Cosmetic Patient Marketing Service has been a great addition to our practice-building overall plan. While we still invest in our online presence, we also found immense value in the internal marketing efforts. We especially like that all results are tracked so we know we are getting a great return ... last year it was 1,148% and no staff time was used. That’s a much easier way to grow my cosmetic practice.”
Mark Mason, MD
"Catherine Maley turned our practice around. We converted more consultations in one week than we did in an entire month. Our practice went from a painful 50% no show rate to a remarkable 85% show rate. Even more impressive was our close ratio - from 35% to 80% and still increasing. We would recommend her to any practice that’s looking to not only increase their profits today, but sustain a healthy flow of income for many years to come. Thanks Catherine!"
Sam Assassa, MD
"Catherine found me the best patient care coordinator I could have asked for. She worked out a payment plan that was fair to me and motivating to my coordinator. She also provided training tools to help my coordinator convert better, even though she was already experienced. The results have been phenomenal. So good, in fact, that my income increased 250% and I’m booked out for 3 months. Don’t waste any more time or money doing it yourself. Outsource to someone you trust!"
Andrew Lofman, MD
"Since we’ve been working with Catherine and her team for the past 5 months, we’ve brought in $79K in surgeries and have booked an additional 17 surgical procedures and 20 non-invasive body procedures since then. This does not include the additional new patient referrals and revenues we are seeing from the on-going nurturing of my current patient database."
Verne Weisberg, MD
"I had given my staff the goal to convert at least $35K per week in surgeries AND I gave them the tools to help which was Catherine’s Online Learning Center at More Patients Academy. They watched Catherine’s modules and implemented her strategies and converted $80K! That equaled a 2,550% ROI. Nice!"
Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery. Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying View Author Profile.