Resolving Conflict


Conflict is not an easy part of business, but it is an inevitable occurrence. The first area of conflict involves clients who are unhappy. The second area is between staff. Different mindsets and approaches are needed for resolving these two.

Patient Conflict

Conflict with a client usually occurs when he/she is upset about a perceived lack of results, an adverse event occurring, confusion over cost or poor customer service. A few of these are easily avoided. For example, cost should always be discussed before any service and should be clearly written on consultation forms. All staff should be continually trained on excellent customer service standards, and providers should work hard to stay on schedule, so as to not keep clients waiting past their appointment times.

Some clients present their concerns calmly and are gracious about finding solutions. These people are obviously easy to work with. Other people get angry, loud and demanding when they are upset. These are the ones that need a well-thought-out approach.

Angry clients. If a client becomes angry and loud in the office, it is best to move them to a space away from other clients as quickly as possible. If an office manager is available and has their own office, that can be a good choice. The most important part of dealing with these types of clients is to listen and acknowledge their concerns. Many times, all people need is to feel as though somebody understands why they are upset. Do not get angry, loud or unprofessional in response to them. Staying calm is of the utmost importance.

Language. Identifying one staff member who is assigned to deal with unhappy clients can be useful. Not everyone has the skills needed to operate well in these situations. Staying calm, listening and letting the client know what the follow-up will be is usually the best approach. Using words such as “I understand” or “I want you to be happy” can often be very calming. Sometimes the situation can be immediately resolved. For example, if a client is upset because he/she has been kept waiting, offering to reschedule their appointment and to include a free mini-service can often calm them down and allow them to feel heard and taken care of. Other times, such as when a client is upset because of the lack of results, they should be told that their pictures will be reviewed and then the appropriate contact will be in touch.

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Lisa S. Jenks, M.D., began her medical career as an emergency room physician. In 2007, she opened Genesis MedSpa, a medical spa in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Recently, Jenks started Genesis Consulting to help spa owners and other physicians open successful medical spas. Reach her at [email protected] or 719-579-6890.

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