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No one likes negative feedback. Some people say they relish reading or hearing bad stuff about them: Michael Jordan used it to motivate himself throughout his storied NBA career. But most of us instantly get a little prickly when someone pulls out the red pencil when going over the quarterly report we wrote or even over something as seemingly innocuous as not liking the Spotify playlist we queued up at the outset of a road trip.

Of course, it’s necessary for continued improvement to understand what you’re doing wrong. This applies to everything from properly cooking a steak to hearing that the possessive of “its” doesn’t have that darn apostrophe.

And it applies to your practice. In the past, before the rise of the online world, practices rarely heard about problems or qualms from patients. Not so today — if a patient isn’t happy, odds are they’ll open their laptop and hammer you in a review on RealSelf or HealthGrades.

We’ve addressed negative reviews in the past in our blog. This month let’s see if we can get that negative review turned into a positive one.

Reviews matter to patients

Today everyone is a reviewer, and everyone is a review reader. Check a couple stats:

  • 57 percent of consumers will only use a business if it has four or more stars. (BrightLocal)
  • 8 percent of customers are either likely or extremely likely to continue doing business with a brand that resolves their complaints. (GatherUp)
  • 89 percent of consumers read businesses’ responses to review. (BrightLocal)

But what’s done isn’t necessarily done

One thing about patients/customers and reviews, however, is when the person hits “Submit” on his or her review it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the end. Research has shown that people consider reviews to be up for continual revision, kind of a living, evolving document.

But for that to happen, there has to be evolution of the experience. If the practice or business reaches out to the disgruntled patient/customer, there is now ground for the person to update and revise their review. A bad review can become a good one.

Patients/customers are usually forgiving if they are heard

For the above revision to happen, the practice has to reach out to the patient, responding to their bad review. When any business does this, including medical practices, people tend to be very forgiving. Everyone makes mistakes, and as long as they aren’t some sort of medical malpractice, patients are usually forgiving. They just want to be heard and their problem acknowledged.

When this happens, the patient will often show his or her pleasure by updating their review and raising their rating along with it.

They can also see when they were at fault

Sometimes a bad review comes in from a person who has had a procedure but either hasn’t followed their recovery instructions or simply hasn’t been patient enough yet. For instance, swelling could endure after a cosmetic surgery and it frustrates the patient who may then submit a negative review. But in a couple months, the swelling has resolved, and that patient could feel far better about their outcome. If you maintain contact through their uneasiness, you’re now in line for an updated review.

Three steps to turning a negative review positive

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

There are three steps for transforming a negative review into a positive one:

  1. Problem is put out there — The patient writes about her less-than-stellar experience with your practice. She may be frustrated, feel cheated somehow, or just not happy with her treatment, procedure, or even your staff.
  2. You fix the problem or at least address the issue — When your practice reaches out to this patient, right off the bat you show you’re attentive. You may need to take any sort of negotiation offline through a phone call or direct email. Or it could be addressed on the spot if it’s a case of misinformation about healing rates or the like. The goal is to make the patient happy, if possible.
  3. Restoration and revision — Now your disgruntled patient is a happy one. She is ready to come back to you for another treatment or procedure. And she’s probably happy to go back in and revise/update her review. Your rating stars will likely go up. Now everyone’s happy.

While occasional negative reviews are almost inevitable, it may help to think of them not as “negative” reviews but as “reviews in progress.” This is an opportunity to listen to the disgruntled patient, address his or her problem, offer a resolution or correction or simply provide unknown information, and then watch as they go back in and update their review. Now you not only have a loyal customer, but those other 90 percent of potential patients who read responses to reviews will see your practice as a stand-up facility where the customer is listened to and appreciated. Now, those potential patients will feel more comfortable calling and becoming actual patients.

If you have other questions about handling and managing online reviews, please call your MyAdvice representative or fill out our contact form and let’s talk.

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