7 Steps of Complaint Handling

1. Maintain Composure

  • Notice your emotional temperatiure - upset / defensiveness / negative assumptions and self talk.
  • Breathe / exercise constraint / depersonalize the situation.
  • Focus on the matters at hand / ask yourself good questions / begin to frame the problem.

2. Listen

  • Do not interrupt – let the patient state the complaint.
  • Listen for the central problem, issue, need or want vs. listening to the story, upset, or make wrong.

3. Acknowledge the situation and feelings.

  • Thank the patient for voicing their complaint.
  • Authentically apologize for the situation if appropriate – inconvenience, etc.
  • Listening and acknowledging a patients issues is the first and most important step in resolving any problem situation.
  • Empathize vs. Sympathize related to a patient's upset or feelings - I understand how you feel - does not mean you agree with how someone is feeling.

4. Restate the Problem / Probe For More Information

  • Restating the problem insures you clarify what the problem is before proceeding to find a solution.
  • Let me see if I understand your concern.  As I understand it________( restate the problem and what you perceive the patient needs or wants.)
  • If you are unable to determine what the problem or issue may be, ask questions to better understand the situation (what happened?).

5. Propose A Solution / Commit to Getting Back to The Patient

  • Propose a solution to the problem.
  • Provide patients with information that would enable them to better understand or deal with a situation – policy or procedure guidelines.
  • Commit to getting back to the patient if you require input from others – specific time.

6. Ask For Feedback Or Alternatives

  • Would that work for you?
  • How would you prefer to have the situation handled?
  • What would you need to have happen in order to resolve the problem for you?

7. Restate Solution and Agreements

  • Summarize the agreed solution to the situation and confirm any agreements reached related to time lines for solving the problem – I’ll do X by Y time..