"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf." - Jon Kabat-Zinn
In a world where online communication holds a great deal of weight, take some time to consider the effects of online reviews. Every business owner has encountered this phenomenon – a patient comes in, has a less-than-satisfying experience, and immediately goes home to write a scathing review explaining whatever it is that happened to them. It is inevitable that every practice has flaws and not all days run smoothly. What matters most is how you choose to represent yourself as a practice, how you move forward and follow up with the review. Keep reading for 5 crucial tips to help you respond positively to negative reviews online!
1. Take a Breather
When you are proud of your business, it can be infuriating to read the angry, disappointed, and sometimes downright rude reviews people will leave. The most important thing to remember: negativity is contagious. The attitude you have when faced with an adverse situation is a choice. Give yourself some time –24-48 hours – to calm down, consider what is being said, and construct a thoughtful, genuine response. Remember that everyone in your target audience can read these responses. Remind yourself how you want to present your practice to the world.
2. Always Reply
At the end of the day, the reviewer left your practice with an unpleasant experience. By taking a moment to acknowledge and validate their feelings, it shows that you sympathize with their experience and care about them as a patient. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Chances are, they are not a bad person and there are other outside factors that played a part in their lousy day. It’s amazing what a little compassion can do to diffuse a tense situation. Rip off the band aid and reply, even if you don’t want to.
3. Be Polite and Concise
When responding, keep it short and sweet. Thank the reviewer for taking the time to leave their review. Don’t give too many details, as this provides space for the reviewer to become even more upset if they disagree with how the situation played out. If you wish to give your side of the story, keep the explanation brief and respectful. By engaging in a constructive and positive way, it represents your practice as genuine, warm, and professional.
4. Try to Resolve the Issue
If a mistake was made, acknowledge it (as best you can while following HIPAA-guidelines, of course) and allow your audience to see that you are working to fix the issue. It’s much more valuable for people to see a practice own up to a complication and handle it appropriately rather than pretend it never happened. No practice is perfect, and the more benevolent your response, the more respect you will have from your audience in the end. Even if the review is incorrect or untrue, try your best to resolve whatever the conflict may be. Replying is your opportunity to make things right!
5. Move the Conversation Offline
Provide your contact information and request that the reviewer contact you directly to try and resolve whatever the complaint may be. By offering to make yourself available offline, it brings a more personal vibe to the conversation and allows you to get to the core of the issue. If you can resolve the dissatisfaction, it creates an opportunity for you to then ask the patient to remove the negative review. Opening the line of communication will allow for a more transparent experience and possibly even lead to victory.
As long as there is the internet, there will always be unsatisfied patients leaving negative reviews. While you may not have control over what people write, you do have the power to steer the negativity in a positive direction. Think of review sites as tools at your disposal to help improve your branding, customer service, and promote your practice in a positive light. The next time you encounter a negative review, don’t panic - remember these 5 tips to help ensure a quick resolution and maintain your practice’s integrity. For more information regarding online reviews and reputation management, be sure to contact us!