How to Handle Frustrated Patients




Perhaps the most requested solution I am asked to provide is how to handle frustrated or angry patients. And because trainees find our strategies highly effective, it has become the most effective way for BCI to earn their buy-in to our training curriculum.


The key to handling these delicate situations certainly includes the commonly accepted strategy of conveying empathy with comments such as I understand your frustration. But this only scratches the surface. The comprehensive answer is to convey an exceptional level of service and professionalism as I will explain.


Upset patients/customers call convinced someone there has clumsily dropped the ball in a way that has unfairly affected their life. They are certain their issue has been handled incompetently, and they seek validation of their feelings through what they expect to be an incompetent phone experience as well.


But If from the second the agent answers the phone to the final moment of the call, their words, responses, and phone manners are perfect, their tone is sincerely empathic and their explanations are offered respectfully and confidently, the patient is afforded little opportunity to validate their frustration. They realize the organization is not incompetent after all, which makes it much easier for them to then accept the outcome which typically is not in their favor (because the organization typically is not in the wrong).


If however the agent conveys even the smallest semblance of mediocrity, or makes even one situational verbal misstep, or misses even the slightest opportunity to convey sincere caring, the emotionally raw caller can then rationalize their validation of incompetency and the situation can quickly spiral out of control.


As with most things associated with agent performance challenges, the direct solution is to offer the highest level of service and professionalism. And there is nothing mysterious about it. All of the variables are known, highly specific, and easy for any agent to master.


BCI didn't invent the rules of highly professional agent performance, we just know them, teach them and do the demanding work of ensuring each agent we train executes them daily. Our simple message to the healthcare call center field is if you are dissatisfied with your agents' performance, we will solve that for you.