How to respond to negative patient reviews online.

September 30, 2020

The vast majority of people consider online patient reviews to be the most critical  resource to help them choose which healthcare professional they wish to see.  

For doctor, this means that managing your online reputation is a fundamental aspect of  patient acquisition. However, this also means that inevitable negative reviews, is something which doctors cannot afford to ignore.

Why do negative reviews matter?

According to a study by BrightLocal, almost 80% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, imagine the impact that negative reviews are having on your practice.

Furthermore, aside from the content of the review, the negative review will decrease your average star rating which is reportedly the most important factor amongst consumers according to BrightLocal. Consumers revealed that they wouldn’t even consider doing business with a company with less than 4 stars.  

What should I do if I receive a negative review?

Many doctors are concerned about what they can do if and when they receive a negative review online. The most important thing we recommend for doctors to do in this situation is … RESPOND.  

According to Software Advice, 70% of patients feel that it is important for healthcare professionals to provide answers to negative reviews. 9 out of 10 consumers say that they read a business’s response to reviews, and if the business responds in a positive manner 4 out of 5 consumers will disregard the negative review.

Depending on how you address the response, a good response has the ability to strengthen your online reputation.  

How should I respond to a negative review?

We recommend that every doctor and practice has a protocol in place for responding to negative online feedback. This is to make sure that reviews are not ignored, and the patient affected as well as others reading are given a thoughtful response.

Here are 3 key tips to bear in mind when coming up with a response:

1. Respond quickly

A disgruntled patient is likely to only become more angry if they feel that their concerns are not being given any attention. Furthermore, the longer a negative review is left unattended, the greater impact it is having on your reputation as it appears to others that you do not care. We recommend 24-48 hours at the most to respond to negative reviews.

2. Apologise

Even if you feel that the patient is in the wrong, you should always take the high road by issuing an apology. Apologising appeases the disgruntled patient, but also shows others that you care about providing a high level of service. Make sure that the apology is sincere, as it is easy to spot a fake apology a mile-off. For example, you might write:

“We apologise that your experience at ….. was not up to your satisfaction. We set a high standard for ourselves, and I am sorry that your experience with our practice did not meet this. At …, our number 1 priority is the care of our patients. 3. Offer to discuss the matter offline

Doctors must be extremely careful when responding to online reviews, that they do not reveal confidential information about the patient. Even if a patient has revealed information for themselves in the review, it does not mean the practice is able to do the same. We recommend talking in broader terms regarding what the review topic is about, but not specifics.  

Offer to have a more detailed conversation with the patient offline, where you will have the opportunity to discuss the specifics of the encounter.  

Take a look at how Forest Family, a dental practice in the US responds to a negative Google review. Even if the patient who wrote the review is not happy, others reading it will be comforted in the response.  

How can we help?

PatientSpring is a digital marketing agency that specialises in helping doctors grow their private practice through their private practice website and online marketing.

Our team will review your website, SEO rankings and social media profiles and provide you with a comprehensive report of how you could improve. Completely free of charge!
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