United Airlines passenger Carrol Amrich had just purchased a ticket. There was a family emergency. Carrol needed to get home ASAP. Her mother was dying.
As she sits in her seat on board, a flight attendant tells Carrol that her ticket was cancelled and refunded due to an error.
Carrol tries to explain. She paid for the ticket. She really, really needs to get home to her mother. The attendant says, “Nobody flies for free.” Carrol is booted off the plane. Carrol jumps in her car and drives 1,000 miles, rushing to get to her mother in time to say goodbye.
She was too late.
Carrol’s mother dies before she arrives. United Airlines responds, subtly blaming Carrol for their mistake:
“I am just so sorry… it was unfortunate the ticket ended up voided. Had she (Carrol) contacted us directly to make the change, this all would have been avoided.”
A United Airlines representative reached out to Carrol’s landlord to ask where they could send flowers.
United’s story is extreme. These mistakes — the generalizations, insincerity and platitudes — they’re all around us.
Yet many healthcare practices do this to patients every day.
When something goes wrong (e.g., negative review, unhappy patient, poor experience), the practice shifts their focus to damage control by doing little.
It’s horrible but incredibly common.
Here’s why: When a practice makes a mistake, the patient feels they don’t matter. They become upset.
This is an incredible opportunity for you to pull ahead of your colleagues and win
amazing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ reviews from passionate patient evangelists.
- Expect pain. When patients are hurt or unhappy expect that you’ll be hurt as well. This shows patients you’re willing to go to their dark place with them. That you’re reliable and someone to be counted on.
- Ask them about their experience, what happened, what they’d like to see happen, what you can do to make it right. This shows you take them seriously and that you care.
- Follow their lead. Do patients feel like venting about you on Yelp? Engage them there. Are patients posting Facebook comments about another patient’s negative review? Jump into the conversation, if only to listen. Forget about rebuttals. Focus on listening, learning and understanding and you’ll have the info you need to wisely resolve the crisis.
- Spend what it takes to fix the problem properly. Remember when United Airlines overbooked and asked passengers to give up seats, then forcibly dragged Dr. David Dao off their plane? Their share price dropped 12 percent and cost the airline $1.3 billion. Then they had to settle with Dr. Dao for an untold sum speculated to be millions. There was also the intangible loss of passenger goodwill. Expensive consequences.
- Follow up. Check in with your disappointed patient to make certain their problems have been resolved.
Patients and review readers recognize sincerity. They recognize those who care about them. Review management and the success of your practice depends on building and maintaining patient relationships.
Exceed your patients’ expectations 100% of the time.