The biggest myth in the customer service sector is “the customer is always right” and I say myth for a reason. Because it is a myth. The customer is not always right, and neither is the patient.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt exhausted and drained and were all too certain you were being taken advantage of? Here’s the truth, being in a position where you have to deal with people and their demands all day can be trying. You might have patients who yell, who try to bargain, who make you feel uncomfortable, and who think you somehow can change the industry to suit them. We all know that’s not how it works, but we don’t want to cause a confrontation. It’s these kinds of patients that can cause you and your team unnecessary stress and have you seriously believing that you’re doing something wrong when you’re not. I have been in the customer service game long enough to know that there are limits to everyone’s patience and there are also times when you can legitimately say enough is enough. Below are just a few types of patients your practice would be better off without:
Nobody should have to put up with abusive behaviour of any stripe.Once the patient crosses this line, it’s time for your entire team to unite as one and say enough is enough! For the morale of your team, let this type of patient go.
It is important to check your behaviour before engaging with a difficult patient, but they aren’t completely off the hook for their behaviour, either. Threatening behaviour in any guise is still threatening behaviour. Whether in person or online, any behaviour that means to cause you or your practice harm and causes you significant discomfort calls for an immediate red card. You should not have to engage with bullies and you should not have to accommodate them, either.
Anyone who works in the customer service sector knows that a lot of lying goes on. Sometimes the lies are small and therefore easy to manage in small doses, but sometimes the lies are big, making their effect even bigger. If you find that a patient of yours is lying a lot and even extending their lies to online reviews, this can be damaging to your practice and will most definitely cost you business. Patients who lie constantly to get what they want out of you are patients you are better off cutting ties with– for the sake of your business and your stress-level.
Refuse to pay
We all wish we could worry less about money and most of us will jump on the opportunity to get something (be it a product or service) for free. But all businesses rely on their customers to pay an agreed upon amount for a product or service. That is how the capitalist economy functions, and until that changes, your business can’t just give away your services and expect to be successful. That’s why patients who make it a habit of refusing to pay for some non-legitimate reason just to get free service are not worth your time. More than likely, your practice has not been their first stop on the “getting services for free” tour. Hyken.com says it best “customers who can’t be held financially accountable aren’t really customers – they’re more like leeches that suck resources from your organization.”
Make impossible demands
You have a code to follow and guidelines. You want to be accommodating to all your patients and for the most part, they’re satisfied, but you have those few that are never happy. You bend over backwards and it still is not enough. This kind of stress is not only bad for you but it’s bad for your business. There is only so much you can do and if a patient is constantly threatening to drop you because you never exceed their impossible expectations, that is too much time and money wasted. There is a difference between being accommodating and being taken advantage of. If you discover that your patients are doing the latter, it’s time to say goodbye as what is a relationship without trust and mutual respect?
Before you jump the gun thinking that any situation warrants kicking a patient to the curb, please understand that there are very important distinctions to make between a patient that is angry and a patient that is impossible. Angry does not necessarily mean wrong or abusive or threatening. So first, if your patient is angry and you just need to de-escalate the situation, remember to stay calm, check your response, practice empathy, and listen actively. You will find that most angry patients just need to calm down before they can have a reasonable conversation with you.