SAN DIEGO—When someone posts a negative comment or review about your practice online, it can feel like a personal attack. It may feel natural or necessary to respond to such reviews with some equally negative thoughts of your own, but research shows that negative reviews can actually be highly valuable for your practice.
In fact, 82 percent of online consumers look for negative reviews when searching for a service provider online, according to PowerReviews. This may be because consumers seek balanced input on services when making purchasing decisions. In addition, visitors to third-party review sites are, in general, as concerned with your practice’s response as they are with the initial review itself. Taking the time to respond thoughtfully to negative reviews demonstrates how engaged your practice is, how much you care about your business and how you solve potential problems for your patients.
Use the following three tips to help you respond appropriately to negative online reviews and transform them into a positive experience for your practice.
#1 Determine the Facts
Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone. Once in a while, someone will have a negative experience and will choose to write about it online. However, some online reviews or complaints simply are not valid. Before posting your response, investigate what happened and verify the information mentioned by the reviewer.
In the case that the complaint is not a valid one, respond with your side of the story and ask what you can do to resolve the situation. You may not be able to resolve things with this one particular patient, but showing integrity and a sincere attempt to resolve the issue at hand will show other potential patients that you care about their experience at your practice.
#2 Address the Reviewer’s Concern
If you or someone on your staff was in the wrong, apologize directly and publically to the reviews and recognize what you could have done differently. Most patients appreciate the opportunity to feel valued by their service provider, and, often, recognizing a disgruntled patient’s concern or complaint is enough to resolve it. Provide them with a personal office number or e-mail address, so they can contact you directly and feel confident that their complaint will be addressed quickly.
#3 Consider Comments as Free Research
If your practice receives multiple negative comments about a service or staff member, chances are that they contain some truth. However, you can use these reviews to your practice’s advantage. Make note of any problems or suggestions that people mention and try to correct the problems and implement good suggestions. Not all patients will be honest and direct about what they think you could improve, so be thankful for the ones that do. Online reviews offer a wealth of information that you and your staff can use to improve your patients’ overall experience.
Lastly, remember to breathe. Again, when someone posts a negative comment about your practice, it can feel like a personal attack. It’s important to remember that it isn’t. Getting negative reviews can truly be a positive learning experience that will help you improve you practice and increase patient satisfaction over the long run.
iMatrix is a leader in websites and web marketing solutions designed specifically for eyecare professionals. iMatrix has recently added a new service to their suite of website solutions, Reputation Builder. It notifies users any time someone writes a review of their business or service on the most popular third-party review sites, allowing the user or practice manager to respond in real time.