Bad Online Reviews and How to Respond to Them

It is important to address every online review – good or bad – publicly so that others reading the review will know you are responsive to patient communication and concerns.

Here’s How to Respond

Here are some simple steps to addressing a bad review, potentially resolving the patient’s complaint and showing possible future patients how you deal with patient concerns.

Don’t get bent out of shape.

As much as we want to think that we do the best we can for every patient, we do make mistakes. I spoke with a patient recently and told her the practice had failed to send her prescription in and she was dumbfounded. “You mean you are actually admitting you made a mistake?” she said “That’s so refreshing.” We will all make mistakes, and we all must own them.

Read it. Go away. Come back and read it again.

First blush reads can be deceiving because we are instantly on the defensive. All healthcare is under the microscope and we are all peddling so hard to keep up that it’s easy to feel that we are doing everything we can and resent anyone who thinks we could do better. If you let it go for 24 hours, when you come back and read it a again, it could read differently and may be not as harsh as we originally perceived it to be.

Address the online review and include:

  • An apology acknowledging that the patient was dissatisfied – regardless of the specifics or what you cautioned them about, you want patients to know you do not want them to be dissatisfied. This is not necessarily to admit that you did something “wrong”, but that if the patient feels something went wrong, you want to acknowledge their feelings and address them. This is not the forum to say “we told you this might happen…”
  • Reassurance that patient care is the top priority in your practice.
  • An invitation to contact the practice administrator to discuss the issue in more detail and review if anything could have been done differently. Include a phone number and email.
  • Edit, edit, edit. Write it, let it sit for awhile, and come back and see if it reads the way you want it to. Have others read it and give their opinions. Less is often more when responding to a bad review.

Keep a copy of the online review and your response

Share with employees at a staff meeting. Make it a customer service teaching moment.

Contact the Patient

If you know who wrote the online review, contact the patient with an offer to discuss over the phone or face-to-face.

Keep in mind that the most important thing is to take the public sting out of the review by responding in an open, calm and compassionate way.

Photo Credit: sergiosantos9 Flickr via Compfight cc