Every medical practice will, at some point, experience a negative review or two. The key thing to do at this juncture is to remain calm and have a strategy in place.
Even the most patient-friendly practice with the best customer service policies will receive at least some negative reviews. At times, mistakes happen, or the employee or patient may just be having a bad day.
But at times like these, it is important to understand that a bad review is not the end of the world. In fact, it is likely the last chance that a practice will have to make amends and win back the patient.
By the Numbers
Interestingly, it is 25 times more costly to earn a new patient relative to retaining an existing one. This is a huge incentive to make a valiant effort to win back patients who are slipping away because of a negative experience.
First and foremost, you should understand what not to do. Regardless of whether the medical practice or the patient is at fault, it is up to the practice owner or manager to use their people skills and make amends, including apologizing to the patient, if necessary.
This needs to be done not only to pacify one disgruntled patient but also to ensure that all prospective patients who read the review develop a favorable impression of how the medical practice treats its patients. But how do you achieve that? It all depends on the owner response.
Do’s and Don’ts about Responding to Negative Reviews
You will need to monitor all of your review profiles routinely and act swiftly upon seeing a negative review. This is the primary part of your strategy. The second part will involve a carefully-crafted message you will post in response to the negative feedback. Some simple do’s and dont’s are as follows:
- Put the blame on the patient
- Shift blame onto your employees
- Accuse the patient of falsification or exaggeration
- Refuse to offer an apology
- Refuse accountability
- Use language that is unprofessional or rude
- Respond with long and unwieldy messages
- Respond to reviews that allege illegal activities; consult a lawyer if this ever happens
- Offer a sincere apology for the patient’s bad experience
- Show empathy to the distress they express
- As the owner of the medical practice, express complete responsibility
- Offer something that would help make amends if the patient would be so kind as to give you another opportunity (another service, a refund, etc.)
- Express your complete commitment to resolving the issues that are raised and explain your intent to remedy them
- Be straightforward and honest about the possible cause of the error
- Convey to the patient that you eagerly invite in-person complaints going forward as you are committed to offering them an excellent experience
Keep your response short but sincere. Develop a personal strategy for identifying and responding to reviews in a manner that aligns with your practice policies and desire to excel.
It may surprise you to see how frequently a generous and empathetic response from the doctor will encourage the patient to update their feedback and even raise star ratings to reflect the improved perception of the care they have received.
Remember that you can also respond to positive reviews. You can express gratitude to an appreciative patient, and make them feel valued.