Who knows where the adage “Turn that frown upside down” came from, but in today’s digital world you could think of it as replacing a frowning emoji with a smiling one. When it comes to online reviews, doing so can make a huge difference in your practice’s reputation.
We’re all a little sensitive when it comes to getting negative feedback. But today everyone is a reviewer, so endless feedback is part of the deal. When your practice receives a negative review, either on a health review website or on one of your social media pages, there are a few important steps to take with the goal of turning that negative review, eventually, into a positive update. Both your response and the potential change of heart of the reviewer are important parts of your online reputation.
Here are some steps to take.
At Advice Media, we’ve long told our practices to keep an ear to the proverbial railroad track when it comes to reviews. You need to monitor your online reputation; that way you know when you get a review, whether it’s positive or negative. We have tools to help you do this.
Respond and do so quickly
It’s tempting to simply ignore a negative review. Maybe the person is just a persnickety type. Maybe the facts aren’t totally accurate. Maybe you’re not in the mood to deal with this today. It doesn’t matter — you (or someone you designate at your practice) need to respond to negative reviews. This shows patients that you are engaged and care about their problems. Although it sounds kind of self help guru-ish, these are actually opportunities to engage. Research has shown that almost half of consumers are more likely to visit a business if they see the business has responded to negative reviews.
But don’t take your time. You can’t let a bad review sit there for a few days or longer. This tells patients and potential patients that you don’t care. In today’s online world, almost three quarters of consumers expect a fast response as part of what they consider to be good customer service. Respond within hours, if possible.
When a bad review shows up on your practice’s Facebook for Business page, it’s tempting to simply delete the comment. But don’t do that. Even if just the person who posted it knows, that’s one disgruntled patient who now will look to tell the world that you don’t care. Respond to the comment heeding the steps we’re going through here.
Take a deep breath and thank the person respectfully
No one likes to see a bad review. We all take this kind of stuff personally, even when it pertains to our business. But, again, this can actually be an opportunity to give patients some insight they may not have known about your practice and your people. When someone takes the time to post a comment or write a review about their negative experience, this is a chance for you to make it right. So, start your reply with some form of thank you for your comment kind of statement. Do so with total respect. Stay focused on the problem and don’t be high handed, aloof, or dismissive.
Start with a general reply, and then move away for detailed fixes
OK, so you’ve received a negative review about an experience at your practice. Remember, this is a public forum. First, thank the reviewer for his or her comment and apologize. This shows everyone that you’re engaged.
But for the actual fix, take it offline. Don’t work through the back and forth online in view of the public. Encourage the reviewer to contact your practice directly by phone, email, direct message, or private chat.
About that apology
Seeing as we are all in the healthcare universe, you probably don’t want to accept blame for the issue the reviewer is talking about, unless it’s something like office hours or decorum. For procedures, you can still apologize without admitting anything on your part. Say you’re sorry for the patient’s bad experience, frustration, or miscommunication.
No arguing. No blaming others.
You could receive a review or comment that you don’t think is fair. Maybe the patient didn’t fully follow his or her recovery instructions. Maybe they were expecting their procedure to solve all the other problems in their lives. Regardless of if you feel the complaint is justified, you can’t argue about it with the patient. As soon as the customer posted the review it became a legitimate problem for all to see. Don’t blame others, and don’t argue — that will only antagonize the person and show lack of respect coming from your practice.
Have fake reviews removed
You can’t argue with a patient about a review, but some reviews either violate the site’s policies or are obviously fake. A competitor or a former employee may have written them. If a review is clearly inaccurate, inappropriate, or comes from someone with a reason to denigrate your practice, you can report the review to the site and ask that it be removed.
You’ve settled the issue. Now ask for an update.
OK, so you received the bad review, responded quickly and with respect, went offline to take the necessary steps to address the problem with the patient directly, and now the person is happy with the resolution. That’s good news for everyone.
Don’t let that good resolution go unannounced. Ask the patient if he or she could be so kind as to post an update to their review or comment reflecting that you addressed their problem and fixed the issue. This is great for your practice’s image — patients trust practices that show honest interest in their concerns and work hard to overcome problems.
See that wasn’t so hard. While no one looks forward to the day a negative review or comment on their practice shows up, it really is an opportunity to open an enlightening dialog for other patients and potential patients to see. This can build trust and loyalty moving forward. And that’s always a good thing for a practice.
If you have any questions about responding to negative reviews, let’s talk about it. Call us or fill out a contact form and let’s switch those emojis.