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No one likes negative comments. Some people say they enjoy reading or hearing bad things about them: Michael Jordan used it to motivate himself throughout his rich NBA career. But most of us instantly get a little bit prickly when someone pulls out the red pencil while going through the quarterly report we wrote or even on something as seemingly innocuous as disliking the Spotify playlist as we stood in line at the start of a road trip.

Of course, it is necessary for continuous improvement to understand what you are doing wrong. This applies to everything from properly cooking a steak to hearing that the possessive of « his » doesn’t have that damn apostrophe.

And this applies to your practice. In the past, before the rise of the online world, practices rarely heard about patient issues or qualms. This is not the case today – if a patient is not satisfied, chances are they will open their laptop and ask you for a review on RealSelf or HealthGrades.

We have dealt with negative reviews in the past in our blog. This month, let’s see if we can turn that negative review into a positive one.

Reviews are important to patients

Today everyone is a critic, and everyone is a reader of criticism. Check out some statistics:

  • 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has four or more stars. (BrightLocal)
  • 8% of customers are likely or extremely likely to continue doing business with a brand that resolves their complaints. (Bring together)
  • 89% of consumers read companies’ responses to reviews. (BrightLocal)

But what’s done isn’t necessarily done

One thing about patients / clients and reviews, however, is that when the person clicks « Submit » on their review, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s over. Research has shown that people consider reviews to be subject to continuous review, a sort of living, evolving document.

But for that to happen, there has to be an evolution of the experience. If the practice or company addresses the dissatisfied patient / client, the person should now update and revise their opinion. A bad review can turn into a good one.

Patients / clients usually forgive if they are heard

For the above review to occur, the practice must reach the patient, in response to their bad review. When a business does this, including medical practices, people tend to be very forgiving. Everyone makes mistakes, and as long as it isn’t some kind of medical malpractice, patients are generally forgiving. They just want to be heard and their problem recognized.

When this happens, the patient will often show their pleasure by updating their review and increasing their rating at the same time.

They can also see when they are at fault

Sometimes a bad review comes from someone who has had surgery but hasn’t followed their recovery instructions, or just hasn’t been patient enough yet. For example, swelling may persist after cosmetic surgery and this frustrates the patient who may then submit a negative opinion. But within a few months, the swelling was gone and this patient could feel a lot better about its outcome. If you keep in touch with their concern, you are now online for an updated review.

Three steps to give a positive negative review

Your goal with any bad review is for the reviewer to update it after some sort of resolution. Then they can change your rating. As mentioned above, with almost 90% of people reading the company’s response to the bad review, a happy resolution and updated review are gold. Again, no one is perfect, but responding effectively and empathetically to our mistakes is good karma and patient loyalty. It also makes potential patients feel good about your practice.

There are three steps to turn a negative review into a positive review:

  1. The problem is posed over there – The patient recounts her less than stellar experience of your practice. She may be frustrated, feel cheated in some way, or simply not be happy with her treatment, procedure, or even your staff.
  2. You solve the problem or at least solve the problem – When your practice addresses this patient, from the start, you show that you are attentive. You may need to take any sort of offline trading via a direct phone call or email. Or it could be resolved on the spot if it’s a case of misinformation about cure rates or whatever. The goal is to make the patient happy, if possible.
  3. Restoration and revision – Now your unhappy patient is happy. She is ready to come back to you for further treatment or intervention. And she’s probably happy to come back and revise / update her review. Your rating stars will likely increase. Now everyone is happy.

While occasional negative reviews are almost inevitable, it can be helpful to think of them not as “negative” reviews, but as “pending” reviews. This is an opportunity to listen to the unhappy patient, resolve their issue, suggest a resolution or correction, or simply provide unknown information, then watch them come back and update their review. Now not only do you have a loyal customer, the 90% of potential patients who read review responses will see your practice as a standing establishment where the customer is listened to and valued. Now these potential patients will feel more comfortable calling and becoming real patients.

If you have further questions about the processing and management of online reviews, please call your Advice Media representative or fill out our contact form and let’s talk.

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