PE: Recovery Service

Recovery Service

Yes, sometimes shit still hits the fan!

Even when you have integrated excellent processes into your organization’s foundation, designed quality standards and the best possible touch points, which are then delivered flawlessly by your exceptional staff, reality on occasion, will still affect the patient experience.

What is Service Recovery?  It’s an event that occurs when the patient’s expectations are not met.

The manner in which your organization recovers from a service failure also drives differentiation from your competition.  One small mistake may be a huge issue for the patient especially if it is the patient’s first experience.  Patients will be substantially more frustrated by an organization’s inability to remediate a problem than they are by the actual problem itself.

The heart of service recovery is to pursue the reconciliation of the relationship, not just the resolution of the issue. Treat people with respect and have a humble mentality. Service recovery should be viewed from a humanizing standpoint and not simply seen as a mechanical issue to solve.

Salvaging a potentially damaging relationship means employees must truly adhere to the belief that the person is more important than the issue.  I know this may be hard during difficult situations, but it goes back to the concept of “the customer is always right”.

Service Recovery is not just for complaints and solving problems, it’s for ANY SITUATION where the patient’s expectations are not met.

Here are some examples of when I needed to use service recovery at my business:

  • Patients not clearly understanding my Money Back Guarantee policy
  • Patients in waiting room weren’t sure if they should walk back to the treatment room or wait for someone to get them.
  • Patients complaining that treatment made them worse or they are dissatisfied in some way with our services

Having a specific plan in place is essential in resolving any problems that arise, and to help ensure that it won’t happen again. (Who wants to deal with the same problem over and over again?)

Key points for service recovery and resolving conflicts:

  • Speed is key. Try to respond to a complaint within 1 hour.  It shows that you value the patient and that the matter at hand is a priority.
  • Avoid causing more conflict, getting into an argument, and escalating the situation
  • Understand and make peace with the fact that you can’t win them all.
  • I like to get patients on the phone to speak directly with them. Transfer all text and email inquiries into a phone call to talk to the patient directly.

Remember, the heart of service recovery is to pursue the reconciliation of the relationship, not just the resolution of the issue.

The majority of minor events can easily be recovered and reconciled, but the hardest one to deal with in my experience, is the patient that doesn’t repsond to treatment, they get worse or experience a flare up front treatment, and wants their money back.  As your business grows and you will see more patients, you will probably have 1-2 of these people every year.  Having a specific process in place to deal with this personality type is crucial.

Here is my step-by-step outline when dealing with a “Complaining patient who wants their money back”:

  1. Email, text, or phone call back within 1 hour of the complaint
  2. Thank them for taking time out of their day to contact you and give you feedback
  3. Speak like a human being. Be genuine, caring, and humble.
  4. Apologize for the experience, and acknowledge any fault.
    1. I am sorry for any inconvenience we have caused with this……
    2. I apologize for the experience….
  5. Remain calm
  6. Hear them out. Don’t interrupt and don’t be defensive.
  7. Promise to improve
    1. Again I am sorry….. I am not happy with this mistake.  This falls on me as the leader and the business owner. I will make a commitment to you.  We will improve on this matter….
  8. Offer a Solution
    1. I would like to be fair to both parties, would you be open to………..
    2. I want to do what is right……
    3. Invite them back for a free session to resolve conflict

Example:  Here is my email inquiry response that I use when someone emails me a complaint:

complaining patient email

This is very similar to sales and learning the art of selling.  Each response will be different depending on email, text, or phone call.  Use the above guideline to finalize your process for each mode:  text, email, and phone call.  I personally like to convert the conversation to a phone call ASAP.  This is the best option to handle this.  Talking to the patient.


  1. Design a list of principles to regain the realtionship for complaints and when problem arise.  review this with your team and get new ideas.  Remember goal is to reconcile the relationship
  2. Identify problems that have been arising and other complaints
  3. Provide a solution to each problem and outline protocol for each problem using 
    1. email
    2. text
    3. phone call
  4. Train your team in each policy and implement

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