The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly — Handling Online Reviews
Remember when the job of “reviewer” was something you had to be paid to do? Take someone like Gene Shalit, who reviewed movies for the Today Show. Or the restaurant guy or gal in every big city newspaper whose job it was to go from restaurant to restaurant and review them…in the paper. Radio stations often had concert reviewers, who most nights of the week were out listening, and reviewing, concerts around town. Plus, if you wanted to see a review of the blender that made the best smoothies, you could always count on Consumer Reports.
Now everyone’s a reviewer, whether they’re actually qualified or not. Want to buy something on Amazon? You’re probably going to at least peek at the “Customer Reviews” beneath the description. Want to go to a movie? Forget the paper. On Rotten Tomatoes you can see every sort of reviewer, from the well known to the basement dwelling. And if you’re looking for a plastic surgeon or dentist, there’s Yelp!, healthgrades.com, and RealSelf.com.
That’s the thing about the Internet, it’s faceless. It allows a person to, rightly or wrongly, judge anything and place that judgment out there for all to see. The anonymity allows some people to be less than courteous, even unfair at times. You know things have gotten a little out of hand when Time magazine recently devoted a cover story to the behavior or Internet trolls, those angry denizens of the “comments” section.
OK, so your practice received a bad review in any of the above. Now what? First off, don’t take it personally. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that a dissatisfied customer is way more likely to write a review after a bad experience than a satisfied customer is after a good one. Plus, negative reviews can clue you in to things you can do to improve your practice. Here are some tips for how to deal with online reviews.
Be sure to monitor your practice’s online reputation everywhere you’re receiving reviews or comments. You need to at least check Yelp!, RealSelf, healthgrades, and your practice’s Facebook page. Change settings so that you’re notified when you have a new review or comment.
Be true to your customers
- Don’t post fake reviews. And that extends to neighbors, employees, colleagues, etc. Reviews need to be real to be trusted.
- Don’t delete negative reviews. If you delete a person’s negative review, that will only make them angry, which will result in more negative communication. Due to the nature of the beast, a negative reviewer will normally only cease posting IF the practice acknowledges and addresses his or her post. Truly nasty reviews will usually be taken down by the website.
Another thing about removing negative reviews — potential customers usually have suspicions about practices/businesses with only ultra-glowing reviews.
Respond to every review
This may seem tedious, but you need to respond to every review. For positive reviews it may be something as simple as “Thanks. We appreciate your business!” or “Glad you like your new look. Why not post a picture on our Facebook page?”
For a negative review, it’s a little more involved. If possible use the person’s name, “Hi Sue, I’m sorry your laser resurfacing wasn’t what you thought it would be…” You could then add that results may take a few weeks to fully realize, or multiple sessions are usually required with said procedure.
You can’t fix a more involved negative review in the comments section. In these cases, provide them your business email address with something like this: “I’m truly sorry you were disappointed with ABC PROCEDURE. Please contact us directly through email@example.com and we’ll try and resolve the issue.”
Know that some people tend toward Trolldom
Remember to do your best work and keep smiling. You can’t please some people almost any of the time. If the negative review seems oddly personal or petty, do your best to apologize and explain without having a negative tone toward the patient. For instance, it could be some like “Statistics show that for 8% of patients, Juvederm sometimes only lasts eight weeks.”
Invite your customers to crow about you
A good way to counter the occasional negative review is with a sea of good reviews. To that end, invite your patients to go to Yelp! and RealSelf and review away! Have a sign on your front counter that they can see on the way out. Include it in a follow-up email after their procedure. Ask them to “Like” your practice on Facebook.
The key to reviews and comments, whether good or bad, is interaction. As a practice, good reviews will beget more patients, and the majority of reviews will be good. And acknowledging and addressing/resolving the occasional bad review will give you even more credibility with the public. Overall, just show you’re engaged with posters and you’ll come out ahead in the public relations game.
Do you have questions about reviews and what to do with them? Contact your MedNet/Advice Media representative and ask away.