When it comes to your medical practice, your professional reputation can go a long way to helping you attract and win new patients. With more people searching the internet for health care services, it is critical that you manage your online reputation properly – starting with any negative reviews online.
Why do patient reviews matter?
Why should you worry or care about online patient reviews? The relationship between physicians and patients is unique because it’s founded on trust and respect; medical professionals provide services that are very personal to patients. So, it’s not surprising that one of the strongest influencers of choice are the reviews left by other patients.
79% of consumers says that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (source: Brightlocal)
At some point, every medical practice will have an unhappy patient, and he or she will leave a negative review about his or her experience with you. Given the importance and significance of online reviews, you will want to minimize the impact of the situation as soon as the review is posted.
Bad reviews happen to every business; as a physician, it’s especially important for you to take action. Future patients will undoubtedly check your online reviews because they want reassurance that they will be properly treated at your medical practice.
Additionally, once a new patient forms a bond with your practice, he or she will rarely stray so it behooves you to curate the patient’s first impression.
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How to deal with negative medical practice reviews
When it comes to dealing with negative reviews you have two options: attempt to get the review taken down or manage the fallout. Removing negative reviews usually isn’t possible because third party review sites want to retain their autonomy and transparency.
Here are a few reasons why a negative review would be removed:
- Slander – a review written by a competitor designed to damage your business
- Erroneous review – a review doesn’t match the number of stars selected
- Legal violations – reviews that include threats, racist or sexist comments, graphic content or copyright infringement
- Libel – reviews that describe an establishment as having “code violations” instead of simply saying “dirty”
If the review cannot be removed because of one of the aforementioned reasons, then your next best option is to approach the person who wrote the review and make them feel heard. It has been found that customers are likely to revise a negative review, take down a negative review or post a positive review if they receive a thoughtful response to their situation from a company.
How do you respond?
- Quickly because it will reduce the chance of additional negative comments
- Apologize and acknowledge the patient’s poor experience
- Be polite and respectful – courtesy goes a long way!
- Don’t accuse the reviewer of being wrong, but correct them if they have made assumptions based on inaccurate information
- Offer to discuss the situation over the phone
- Explain how you are going to address their complaints and the steps that will be taken to rectify the situation
- Give the patient a way to stay in touch
- Do all this publicly – other people are watching these interactions
It is important to focus on the positive and highlight what you are doing to move forward from the situation. Confronting an angry or upset patient is a delicate situation and should be treated seriously. There are measures, however, that can be taken to improve the review process to begin with.
Preventative steps that will improve the review process
Unhappy patients are more likely to jump through hoops to leave a bad review. Whereas happy patients don’t necessarily take the time to leave a positive review. In order to acquire more positive patient reviews, make the process easier!
78% of consumers said that ‘Reliability’ and ‘Professionalism’ are most important when recommending a business (source: Brightlocal)
- Streamline the review process and make it easy for patients to leave a review. As mentioned earlier, these reviews are all important to winning new business.
- Allow patients to leave honest reviews, don’t try to influence them. Patients who feel pressured to give feedback often leave with a bad taste in their mouth.
- Positive reviews will outweigh the negative reviews and push them further down the review page
67% of consumers read 6 reviews or less (source: Brightlocal)
Negative reviews aren’t all bad
Even if you receive a negative review, it’s not the end of the world. Oftentimes these types of circumstances give you a chance to examine your procedures and see whether they hold up.
- They show you areas of your business where you can improve.
- They give you a chance to demonstrate great customer service, and if handled correctly, your response can show future patients that you will do right by them should anything arise.
- You have nothing to worry about now that you know how to deal with the few negative reviews that come in.
At Advice Media, we aim to grow your medical practice and keep it thriving through effective online marketing and proactive reputation management. We also offer website design, search engine optimization, social media management and paid advertisement campaign.