Managing negative reviews online

Managing negative online reviews

Donna Hall Social Media and Digital Marketing Leave a Comment

Donna Hall shares advice on what to do if your practice receives a negative online review…

Having a strong online presence, including on social media, is a must for any business to remain competitive today. Your website and Facebook/Twitter/Instagram pages are – or should be – an important part of how you market your practice to existing and potential patients.

As part of your digital marketing, it is a good idea to include ‘social proof’. What that means is providing evidence, often in the form of online reviews, that others have chosen the same path and been successful, i.e. chosen to attend your practice and been happy with the outcome of treatment.

“Statistics show more than half of customers are likely to make a purchase from a site which has reviews”

Statistics show more than half of customers are likely to make a purchase from a site which has reviews, they are more trusted than company descriptions and can produce an 18% uplift in sales*. So, positive reviews can have a great impact on your business, but opening yourself up to online feedback also means there is always a chance that someone will post something negative.

Given the influence of reviews, how can you manage this situation? Below are some tips on how best to respond to a negative review:

Investigate the review

Firstly, you need to understand what has happened to cause someone to leave such a review. Speak to your staff or think about your own experience with the reviewer to determine whether this is a legitimate complaint and what the circumstances are.

By finding out more information, you can formulate a timely and measured response that will accurately address the issue.

Always publically reply

The worst thing to do with a negative review is ignore it. Whilst you don’t want to give it any more breathing space than is necessary, not replying could look as if you don’t care – which won’t create the right impression with the reviewer or anyone else who sees the exchange.

Most review sites provide an opportunity to reply, so make use of this capability to publicly respond. It is also worth noting that it is a good idea to respond to positive reviews with a thank you.

Attempt to diffuse any negativity

Review sites can often be the first place that disgruntled customers turn to after a bad experience. We all have bad days, so if you believe the patient has had a poor experience, don’t be afraid to apologise.

A simple ‘We’re sorry to hear about your experience today…’ message is often enough to get the reviewer back on side. It will also promote your openness and honesty to others who may view it.

Stand up for your business – politely

If you believe that a review has been especially unfair, don’t be afraid to say so through a carefully worded response. This can be frustrating if you feel your practice, your staff or yourself, is receiving unwarranted criticism – added to the fact it is online and therefore can be seen by existing and potential patients. But, regardless of whether the person has grounds to complain or not, your response should be polite, professional and honest.

Take any escalation offline

If a further negative response to your reply is received, do not respond online, other than to encourage the reviewer to get in touch via telephone or email. You do not want to engage in a war of words in public view.

A simple ‘Thank you for your response, if you could please email the full details to us at …. we will investigate and respond accordingly,’ should put an end to the exchange. Of course, you should fulfil this promise and respond privately.

*Statistics about consumer reviews from a report by econsultancy: http://bit.ly/1AEdaq8