How to Respond to Negative Reviews

by Gracie Hogue, BM

In this age, to say that a business’ online presence is important would be a gross understatement. Whoever handles the practice’s media accounts is in effect managing the business’ reputation and how the practice communicates their objectives to both current and potential patients. Research shows that a whopping 79% of consumers go online to find medical / dental services, so it is vital to handle this facet of your business wisely.

Know your mission statement as a practice, hold your staff to that standard, and use your practice’s social media to target your audience with that mission statement. Your media accounts should broadcast that your practice is trustworthy, friendly, and worth your patients’ confidence.

Actively listen and join the conversations and reviews about your practice. Embrace customer feedback; both the good and the bad. Even if it’s tempting, don’t immediately delete bad reviews. Use it as an opportunity to publicly respond in a helpful and friendly way so you gain the reader’s trust, and the customer who wrote the review could turn around and write a positive one as a reflection of how he/she was treated in response. It is not uncommon for someone to leave a 1-star review and then later write a 5-star review after the practice has reached out and made things right with the reviewer.

If a reviewer is verbally combative on the review page, don’t play that game. This is the perfect opportunity for your business to show that you can handle unpleasantness with class. Let them know that you would love to discuss this further over the phone and that you’ll endeavor to make the situation right, and leave it at that. Rants and and arguments should never be combatted online. Show that your business responds thoughtfully; that it doesn’t react impulsively to frustrating people or situations.

Responding to reviews is always a great idea! Give an enthusiastic thank you to positive reviews. Even if the reviews are not new, it is always good to go back and thank those who took the time to compliment your practice. Try not to use a “canned” response if at all possible. However, be mindful of the client’s privacy and of HIPAA standards. Even if the patient mentions the details of their procedure(s) done at your practice, do not respond with confirmation of those procedures. To even acknowledge that the reviewer was at your practice is not HIPAA compliant. Responding with gratitude or concern in making the patient satisfied with your services is your main goal.

If you’re interested in reading more about business social media, the Department of Health recently published an article with guidelines to consider when using online platforms.

https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/web/socialmedia/getting_started/engaging_new_media_platforms.pdf

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