Monitoring your online presence means more than keeping an eye on your Yelp reviews. There are dozens of other places where your patients can leave reviews. And it only takes a few bad ones to impact your business. According to one report by Software Advice, 77% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor. With an abundance of negative reviews, you could be sending away potential patients, and ultimately, revenue.
Below are the steps you need to take to deal with your optometric practice’s online reviews.
11 Steps for Dealing with Negative Online Reviews of Your Optometric Practice
1. Read the Review Carefully
When you come across a negative review, read each sentence carefully to identify the biggest problem the patient had that led to the negative review. When you read, try to understand where the patient is coming from and what situation led to the review being submitted.
2. Take a Deep Breath
Many verbal arguments get heated because the person who is receiving the criticism puts up a defensive shield and then goes on the attack by spouting off with equally negative comments. Luckily, with online reviews, you have a bit more time to sit back and breathe before handling the bad reviews. Before responding to a negative review take a few deep breaths to clear your head and defuse the need to go on the attack.
If you still feel like screaming, draft an email to yourself and let the negativity out. Just remember to not fill in the “To” line. Oh, and hit delete at the end, so you don’t send it.
3. Don’t Ignore the Review
While you don’t want to respond to the review immediately after reading it, you also don’t want to let too much time pass before responding. A timely response to negative reviews will show your community and the submitter that you care about their feedback and improving your practice. Additionally, by addressing a negative review in a timely manner, you can resolve the issue before the review submitter spreads negative reviews about your optometric practice to other individuals in your community.
4. Do Your Homework
Before sitting down to write your response, you should do a bit of homework to identify when the incident occurred, who was working that day, and if any staff members were involved. If a staff member was involved or mentioned in the review, you should get their side of the story and let them know that you’re working to resolve the issue.
Additionally, you might want to research the person who wrote the review. Do they write a lot of negative reviews? If so, this may be a losing battle.
5. Start with an Apology
Whether you were in the wrong or if the patient misinterpreted a situation, you should start each review response with an apology. Thankfully, there are ways you can apologize without taking the blame, but if you are to blame, swallow your pride and admit to it.
There are two ways you can apologize:
- I’m sorry this event happened: This puts the blame on you and your staff
- I’m sorry you feel that way: This shows empathy with the patient without admitting fault
6. Explain the Situation in Your Eyes
Next, you need to explain how the situation occurred in your eyes. If you’re worried that doing this will violate HIPAA regulations or reveal too much of the patient’s private information, try to take the conversation offline and message them through a patient portal with secure, two-way messaging features.
If it was a misunderstanding, let them know. There may be different policies and processes that your optometric practice has in place to deal with certain situations. Perhaps the patient wasn’t prepared for that situation, or maybe the patient identified an inefficient way your practice is doing something.
7. Offer a Solution
To help resolve the situation and avoid losing the person as a patient, try to identify a solution that works for your patient and doesn’t impact your practice or other patients too much. This also helps show to other readers that you’re willing to compromise and make the situation right.
8. Ask for a Revision
Once you and the patient have resolved the situation, ask them to revise, comment on the solution, or remove the review. Just make sure the patient is happy before asking them to do this.
9. Submit for Removal
Sometimes, a review can violate the guidelines spelled out by the review site. If you believe that the review doesn’t comply with the guidelines, you can reach out to the site’s contact and ask for the submission to be removed. It’s important that this is done after you’ve worked with the patient to resolve the situation, or else you’re not only ignoring the review but also hiding it.
10. Learn from the Review
Whether you received a good review or a bad review, it’s important that you learn from it. If your practice was in the wrong, make changes to avoid the situation in the future.
11. Ask for Reviews from Positive and Loyal Patients
As mentioned at the beginning of the post, people read online reviews before selecting a healthcare professional. Even though a bad review can sting, if you’re working to enhance patient care and improve your patient’s experience at your optometric practice, then you’re going to have more positive reactions than negative. Ask your patients to leave an honest review. If you’re providing quality care, overtime, you’ll start receiving more positive reviews than negative ones.