08 Sep How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews

In our last blog on this topic, we took you through some steps on how to take control of your online reputation. Now, we want to give you the tools to respond to your online reviews.


Responding to negative reviews can be very difficult.  The reviewer is only telling their side of the experience, and it can be tricky to respond without coming across as defensive. The first time you read a negative review it can be very upsetting.  It is best not to respond immediately as you want to return a thoughtful response, not a reactive response. We certainly do not recommend you wait days before responding, but give yourself a little time to digest the complaint. Then, before posting the response, have someone else read it and provide you with feedback. Is it respectful? Is it compliant? Is it defensive? Having a second opinion can be the difference between a good response and a bad one.  The last thing you want is to start a war with the patient on a public platform!


3 Things to Keep in Mind When Responding to a Negative Review


1.Thank the patient for bringing their concerns to your attention.


Many people take to online review platforms to make their voices heard.  Acknowledging that their opinion is valid and their experience important to you will help to diffuse disgruntled customers. Often times what a patient writes online is not the whole story, so you do not have to state that the patient is correct. Simply thank them for bringing it to your attention:


“Hi Mrs. Smith, thank you very much for bringing your concerns to our attention. We are continually striving to improve our patient experience and receiving feedback from patients such as yourself is crucial to this endeavor.”


2.Always remember to be HIPAA compliant


A negative review is indicative of an unhappy patient. Sometimes the patient will even disclose personal health information and these reviews can be very tricky to respond to. Make sure that in your response, you do not release any of the patient’s health information, even if the patient is the one who initially disclosed something. The best way to respond is to state your practice’s policies on the subject at hand. For example, often times patients take to online review platforms to dispute a charge or action taken by your billing team such as sending a patient to collections. Simply respond to their claims politely with your financial policy and let them know you would be happy to discuss the matter with them but unfortunately cannot on a social platform. Which brings us to our next point!


3.Give them a private outlet to voice their frustrations


Think about the last time you had a bad experience at a business, you probably wanted to give the owner a piece of your mind right? What was the easiest route for you to voice your frustrations? The answer is probably the internet! Patients go to sites like Yelp and Facebook to provide feedback because there are often no other outlets provided that they feel will get their concerns in front of the right person. When responding to a negative review, provide the patient with a direct contact at your practice to whom they can voice their concerns.  This should be a member of your management team who has been brought up to speed on the situation.


“We certainly understand that this experience was frustrating for you.  If you have any further questions or concerns, we encourage you to call our office and ask for our practice manager, Sue. She will be able to best address your concerns.”


Tune in next week when we dive into how you should respond to positive online reviews!

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