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Two ways CSR can help reduce complaints

Mark Topley / 14 Sep 2018

After a fantastic summer, the mornings are getting crisper and the kids are back to school (hooray!). In the dental calendar, that means that the BDIA Showcase isn’t far away. This year I’ve been asked to contribute to a seminar by my good friend Lisa Bainham, President of ADAM, and her session on handling complaints.

Not a topic you might at first think has anything to do with CSR.

However – there’s a lot more to handling complaints than having a good procedure in place for when they happen. And taking a proactive approach to preventing them in the first place has a lot to do with CSR. Take the findings of this New York Times article. 

The piece focusses mainly on a lack of communication being a cause of higher complaint levels. I believe anyone will acknowledge that good communication is paramount, ensuring patients feel heard and understood. But another issue is raised:

“It seems that more likeable physicians are less likely to have claims filed against them.”

Other studies have pointed to the predictability of a doctor being sued based purely on silent video footage. How? Because of the warmth of the interaction with the patient.


So what makes someone more likeable? A broad topic, and of course one that can’t possibly address every personality type and preference. But I think most would agree that honest people, who act with integrity, and show that they care, are more likely to be likeable.

As a business leader, getting people to care, particularly those who seem focussed on self interest, is a tough job. You’re probably not going to win with everyone (and maybe these people would be a better fit elsewhere), but in my experience, taking a structured approach to CSR can help.

How CSR Helps

Firstly, a strong stance on corporate responsibility for the community and the team helps promote a positive culture through demonstrating your own commitment and purpose. This is strengthened through team activities, which foster collaboration, communication and a sense of purpose in the team.

Demonstrating your commitments to the community, good causes and your team provides practical evidence of your caring side, as a person and as a business.

Clearly, some complaints are due to poor care and genuine mistakes. Others are frivolous and downright wrong. But for the preventable ones, the key to preventing complaints goes way beyond ensuring clinical care is second to none. Communication, and a caring culture are critical. And CSR can help.