In the electronic age we’re living in, it’s never been easier to share our thoughts about a product, company or service digitally through social media or review sites. This can be a helpful part of your social media marketing in many cases. If a consumer (patient) likes the care/service/product they received, a glowing review online from them can help drive others to you. But on the flip side, if they have an issue with the care/service/product received, their negative reviews online can do the exact opposite for your business.
It would be great to have all positive reviews for your practice all the time (and that’s something you should definitely work toward), but there’s bound to be a negative review from time to time as a result of miscommunication or a mistake (typically 93.5% of patient complaints result from miscommunication). You shouldn’t take negative feedback personally or get defensive, but you should recognize when it happens, attempt to resolve the situation and take the necessary steps to avoid that issue in the future. Here are a few tips on what to do (and not do) with negative reviews.
Acknowledge Negative Reviews
You may be tempted to ignore a bad comment or review, but in most situations, it’s best to plan out a prompt and professional response. Responding timely and effectively with the right tone will show the patient you are trying to resolve their concerns and possibly salvage that relationship. It will also show others that you’re listening to patient concerns and taking them seriously. At the same time, take into account the nature of the review. Most of the time, bad reviews should be taken seriously. But if it has nothing to do with their patient experience, is exceptionally or personally attacking, or profane, other actions may be necessary.
Know When and How to Respond
- Before responding, take some time to review the issue and all considerations, then create the right response plan.
- Review the situation – is this an isolated incident or a reoccurring issue? Was there miscommunication and what was it?
- When responding, keep your cool. Don’t get defensive or angry. That’s not going to resolve the issue or help you attract more patients. Also, when you allow emotions to drive your response, whether positive or negative, it can be easier to mistakenly disclose patient information and violate HIPAA.
- Be understanding. More often than not, a negative patient review is the result of the patient feeling a loss of control. Some of this may have to do with what happened when they visited your practice, but it could also be tied to one or more other things going on in their life.
- To resolve the patient’s concern and learn more about the situation, use questions like, “Can you explain the situation further? Can you walk me through your visit so I fully understand?”
- Respond with a phone call if necessary. Instead of replying directly on social media or the review site, you can call the patient directly, if you think the situation warrants it. You can also use email to politely encourage the person to call your practice so you can resolve the situation over the phone. When speaking with the patient on the phone, acknowledge their concerns and ask a redirect question to get the patient to refocus on their goals.
- Thank them for their feedback. The reviewer took the time to make you aware of an issue, so you have the opportunity to address a potential problem. Had they shared their feedback elsewhere, it would not have been possible for you to understand and fix the problem.
Learn From Negative Reviews
No matter how bad a review is, there’s always something to take away from it. If you know that the negative feedback is accurate, be proactive with fixing the problem and avoid similar issues in the future. Get your team involved too. Brainstorm with them possible solutions. For example, if you’re seeing reviews complaining about long wait times, look for ways to improve team efficiencies. Create something positive from the negative feedback.
A great way to reduce the impact of negative reviews and keep your online reputation intact is to drive more positive reviews. These will keep your overall scores high and push down negative reviews on the page. There are many resources out there to help you manage your online reviews.
We’re also here to help. If you need help with your online reviews, we’re always a phone call or click away to support your needs. Schedule a consultation with one of our practice management experts today!