Managing Online Reputation: Responding to the Negative Review

By Practice Growth February 25, 2020

Did you know that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business while 88% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations? These are stunning facts, and they tell us just how important online reputation management is for any business regardless of the industry.

Word of mouth has always been considered the most impactful and persuasive force in the marketplace. Its power becomes even more apparent in the digital age where people have instant access to information, anytime, and from any place.

When you manage a medical practice, it’s essential to keep your reputation intact on business review directories such as Yelp and Google. Medical practices that have a lot of positive online reviews get more exposure online as they show higher in search results. And among the vast digital landscape, success is measured in the amount of exposure you receive.

Medical Reputation Management in the Digital Age

One may think that online reviews are more relevant to restaurant or shop owners, but medical reputation management is possibly even more important. People like the anonymity on the internet, which allows them to speak their minds and freely give negative reviews to just about any product or service.

These reviews should not be ignored and overlooked though. If you run a medical practice, make sure to respond to both positive and negative reviews you receive quickly.

People generally prefer leaving negative reviews when they are dissatisfied, more than leaving positive comments when they’re happy.  (More on addressing that sad reality in other articles)This has to do with the nature of consumer psychology, but there’s no comment or feedback that you can’t turn into your favor if you respond correctly.

Engaging with your patients and showing that you are willing to address issues and respond to questions will only boost your reputation. Patients don’t expect perfection, but they do expect responsiveness and fairness when things go wrong.

How to Respond to a Negative Review

When responding to a negative review, take into consideration what the poster is saying and think it through, objectively. Here are some basic tips that will help you respond properly:

-Keep all responses to the point and professional. Never lose your cool.

-Use a pleasant tone and thank the person who posted the review for the feedback.

-Don’t leave them waiting. Be prompt with your replies.

-Never admit fault but try to resolve the issue. Your goal is to change a negative review into a positive one if you can. When you acknowledge a patient complaint, you’re already half way to defusing the situation.  

-Make sure not to disclose any protected health information, even if the reviewer reveals their medical history or shares private information.

-Reply politely, even If the poster is rude, even if the poster is snippy. When they go overboard or insult you personally, you can easily flag their review, and possibly block them from posting again. When a poster is too aggressive or rude, other people will realize this person is wrong and that you are not at fault.


Here is a good example of a standard response that is professional and shows the desire to correct the problem:

Hello [reviewer’s name],

We're sorry to hear that you were not satisfied with [service/medical practice] and hope you will accept our deepest apologies.

We pride ourselves in providing stellar [service] so this review came as a surprise.

We would like to thank you for bringing this issue/situation to our attention and would like the opportunity to resolve it immediately.

You should get a [call/email] from [name] to discuss what happened and how we might make it up to you. If you prefer, you can also contact us directly at [phone/email].

Yours sincerely,

[name] [practice name and/or position]

It won’t be possible to mend every relationship, but you will clearly show to prospective patients that you are receptive to feedback and willing to improve.


Online Reputation Management Services for Your Practice

From keeping patients to attracting new ones, medical reputation management has always been a challenge. If you are in the health industry, managing your online reputation should be one of your top priorities.

There are online programs that can help you with online reputation management. These are efficient, but perhaps the practice needs to double down on customer service. Establish a team or hire an individual (depending on the size of your practice) whose job will be to take care of your online public relations. Additionally, you can hire reputable online reputation management services for your practice as these can help you build and maintain your online reputation gradually and systematically.

Communication Is the Key to Online Reputation Management

Listening and responding to patient feedback is important to run a successful medical practice. Good communication skills and willingness to address possible issues will help you improve patient retention. Most negative reviews can be turned around if you show confidence, knowledge, and maintain a positive attitude.

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