How to Manage Negative Patient Reviews
Having previously discussed how to get patient reviews, the next step is how to manage them properly and tamp down the effects of any negative comments that you might receive. Keep in mind that even the best physicians will get a few bad reviews, but there are ways you can keep them in check so that they do not create an impression that is out of proportion compared to the excellent services that you do provide.
Understanding the Impact of Negative Reviews
Before you begin the management process, you need to understand the impact that negative reviews will have on your practice. The truth is that there is an impact, but it is not as substantial as you might think unless you are getting a slew of negative comments.
A few negative reviews sprinkled amid a plethora of positive reviews can still be quite irksome. This is especially true if you believe the review is false, overstates what happened, or worse, seems to be planted by the competition. The truth is that you need to breathe when seeing a negative review and put it into perspective.
Most potential patients will not give an occasional negative review a second thought. If you are averaging 20 positive reviews or more for every negative one you receive, then it may not even be noticed and most likely will never be held against you. This is because most people who read such reviews see the positive ones first and may have been recommended to your service by a friend, family member, or co-worker, so their recommendation will far outweigh a few negative reviews.
Of course, you will need to properly manage your reviews even if you only see an occasional negative one. What follows are some tips you can follow when a patient posts a negative review on your website or an independent site such as Yelp, Google, Facebook, RateMD, and others.
Why You Are Getting Negative Reviews
While there are many reasons why your practice is getting a negative review, it basically comes down to two different categories;
- You get that patient that cannot be pleased
- There is an issue with your practice, clinic, team member, or yourself that caused a patient to write a negative review
In the first case, there was nothing you could do, so you should not take it personally. In fact, you probably will know who the person is just by reading the review because you remember the experience. You will need to fashion a polite, direct response that does not cross the line, but makes it clear that you did everything in your power to help the patient. The good news is that most people can spot a review from someone who cannot be pleased, so this should not be a big issue if it only happens occasionally.
In the second case, you will need to do some investigating to find out why it occurred. This means that the cause may range from a misunderstood statement to a real problem that needs to be addressed quickly. This is because many people look for patterns in negative reviews and when they see a persistent issue, that might be enough to turn them away. So, you need to investigate and correct the problem quickly so that it does not get out of hand.
Check Review Sites Frequently
You need to develop the habit of checking the sites where you are being reviewed regularly so that a negative comment can be seen early. The longer a negative review sits out there without a response, the bigger the impact will be. So, you should make it a habit to check all review sites where your services can be commented upon at least once a week, perhaps twice or more depending on how many reviews you are receiving.
No matter how trite the negative review is, you should take the time necessary to investigate the complaints that were lodged so that you can post a proper response. You may find that some negative reviews focus on your hours of operation, meaning you might get even more business by staying open later for certain days or on Saturday.
If the negative review is about how you or your staff treated a patient, you will need to talk to those involved so that such an incident does not happen again. It’s best to create procedures of how you and your staff treat every patient, including calling them by their first name, putting on a smile, and even booking an appointment before they leave.
Contact the Patient Directly
In some cases, it may be wise to contact the patient directly if they have posted a negative review. It’s not the easiest phone call to make, but it may be necessary. It’s also important that you make the call and not one of your staff. They will know they are talking to the person in charge, so that should make things easier to get through and solve.
Be sure to apologize for the incident they reported in their review, explain the steps taken to correct such issues in the future, and thank them for bringing it to your attention. Also, be sure to listen and address any other complaints they might make. If you don’t have the answers immediately, say that you will investigate and get back to them soon.
In many cases, contacting the patient directly and speaking to them will have them remove the negative review. This is especially true in cases of misunderstandings where a few minutes of conversation resolves the issue. Of course, you’ll want to be sure to ask them to remove the review once they feel better about the situation.
Write a Response
Of course, not every personal conversation is going to resolve the problem and the negative review stays up on the site. This means that you can now write a proper response. You need to stay positive no matter how personal the negative review was and directly address the issues that were brought up. This means that if something did not go right, it has been addressed. Even in cases where the negative review cannot be directly addressed, such as a personal attack or comments about things that did not happen, you still need to stay positive in your response.
By taking a few steps, you can properly manage your patient reviews and minimize the impact of a negative post.
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