Online reviews are becoming a bigger, more important facet of the Internet landscape. It is easier and easier for patients to express themselves as review sites like Yelp, Healthgrades, Google+ and even Facebook become more popular. An unhappy patient is much more likely to leave a negative review then a happy patient is to leave a positive one. Benjamin Franklin once said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to end it” – a more apt statement today than ever before.
The Internet makes it easy for a minor failure to become a public catastrophe. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get real reviews removed. Sometimes, simply asking the patient who left the review to remove it and offering to resolve the situation is the most successful route. However, that is not always possible.
So what can be done? One simple solution is to leave a riposte with a positive spin, a response that makes you look good to any potential patient who might read the testimonial. As tempting as it is, a good response is not a retort, calling out the reviewer and putting them down. Rather, you should accept the criticism and offer to make it right. For example: “We are so sorry if you did not receive the best service possible from our practice. We strive to provide an excellent experience. We endeavor to be clear when communicating associated costs so there are no surprises for our patients. The goal of our staff is to keep you comfortable in a friendly environment. We work hard to constantly improve our practice and truly appreciate your feedback. We would love the opportunity to make this right. Please let us know if there is anything we can do.”
It is also important to have good endorsements that help decrease the impact of the negative review. If you have patients that you know are happy, encourage them to leave you a positive testimonial. This is especially valuable if it is a patient that regularly visits the review sites mentioned earlier. Link your website to the review site of your choice and make it easier for patients to endorse your practice.
Also remember that one or two negative reviews are not the end of the world. Patients are actually more likely to trust the positive reviews that show up because they won’t seem forced and unrealistic. Users realize that every business will have upset clients. What is most important to them is how you respond to those unhappy patients.