While negative feedback and complaints are unavoidable, they can be managed and reversed if you handle the situation properly. What matters is how you are going to respond to your patient. A thoughtful answer can turn a negative review into a positive one.
So, instead of panicking and spending your time trying to remove a negative review (which is usually not successful), take a deep breath and follow the below best practices. These are proven methods I have been using for many years to manage the online reputation of worldwide clinics.
Tip 1: Bad reviews are opportunities to grow & promote your aesthetics clinic
Tip 2: Take your time before you respond
Tip 3: Read carefully the negative review and investigate
Tip 4: Respond politely and mention positives about your clinic
Tip 5: Ask someone to read your response before hitting the “reply” button
Tip 6: Take the issue offline
Tip 7: Ask the reviewer to reconsider the review (or take it down!)
Keep reading to learn more about each tip and find useful templates that you can use.
1. Bad reviews are opportunities to grow & promote your aesthetics clinic
When was the last time you evaluated your level of care, as perceived by the patients? A negative review may offer valuable insights on how you, and your staff, are doing with patients, and where you need to focus your efforts to improve their experience.
Responding to complaining patients and trying to provide a solution, is a great chance to demonstrate your professionalism and dedication to patient satisfaction. Everyone reading the review will appreciate your efforts to help and they will feel reassured that you take every feedback seriously.
Following this approach with every single negative review, it will be a matter of time to turn them into positives that will promote your business!
2. Take your time before you respond
We often tend to take a negative review too personally and that leads to responding right away to defend ourselves. Well, feeling warm-blooded and emotional isn’t the best time to write your response.
After receiving a negative review, take your time to relax. Breath. Take a walk. Listen to your favourite music. Talk to a friend or colleague. I usually prefer to do some breathing exercises. Choose your preferred way of calming down and return to your laptop when you feel more in control of your emotions.
3. Read carefully the negative review and investigate
A common mistake we all have made is to reply fast without actually addressing the issue. Defensive responses rarely provide patients with a solution or an explanation. The best approach is to show your willingness to listen to the reviewer, clarify any of their concerns, and make an effort to help.
Before starting to draft your response, do your investigation about the reviewer and their complaint. Always try to stay neutral and objective while doing your research. Tip #2 will help you reach this mental state. Here is a checklist I follow each time I need to do my research:
- Who is the reviewer? Is it a patient that you can find in your database?
- Check the history of the patient
- When was the last phone call or email?
- Read the conversation between you and your patient
- Listen to any recorded calls
- Are there any recent notes about the patient?
- Who did the patient contact in your clinic?
- Talk to the contact person to listen to their side of the story
The first step should always be to find out who the reviewer is, to better understand the situation, and provide a specific solution. If you cannot figure out who they might be by their name, try to contact the patient directly and ask for more details. Some platforms don’t allow direct communication with the reviewer, so in that case, you can respond by asking the reviewer to privately send more details. Here is an example of how I do it:
Hi (patient's name),
Thank you for the time to write a review. To better understand the described issues and provide you with the best possible solution, please contact us directly with your details.
Keep in mind that patient data is sensitive and you should do your best to protect them. Avoid asking patients to send personal details publicly and restrain from revealing sensitive information about them in your answer. If needed, take the issue offline (check tip #6).
4. Respond politely and mention positives about your clinic
Responding in a polite, professional manner, without blaming others or creating excuses, can go a long way to win back the trust of your unhappy patient, or anyone’s reading the review. Own up the case and be open to apologizing. Even if the patient’s claims are unjustifiable, it’s important to show sympathy and understanding for the patient’s feelings.
You may find it useful, and effective, to mention positive facts related to the complaint, and that the patient’s negative experience was an exception. For example, if a patient is complaining about no one picking up the phone, you may reply:
Hi (patient's name),
We are sorry that you had to wait a long time before someone picked up the phone. We usually respond right away or call back as soon as possible. During peak hours we have many patients in our clinic, taking close care of them, and we may have missed your call. We truly apologise and will do what is needed not to happen again in the future.
Make sure that you will address the issue to avoid future similar complaints. In the case of missed phone calls, you can use InDesk, the complete patient communication management system, to make sure every call is picked up.
5. Ask someone to read your response before hitting the “reply” button
This is one of the most useful tips I have learned from having replied to thousands of clinic reviews. After writing your response and before sending it to the frustrated patient, stop! Take some time to clean up your thoughts and emotions, and read again what you have written.
Ideally, send it to one of your peers and ask for their feedback. Having more eyes reading your draft response will help you understand how professional it sounds to others. You may also get some ideas about how to better shape your answer! You will be surprised by how much help you can get from others’ feedback.
6. Take the issue offline
Not all issues can be solved in public. Especially when it comes to medical treatments, you should be discreet and not publicly disclose any information about the patient. After acknowledging the problem, offer to handle the case privately, or off-line. Provide your email or phone number and invite the patient to discuss and resolve the issue. You can use the following template, or use your own according to your brand voice:
I would like to further discuss and get more information about your experience so I can provide you with the best possible solution. Please contact me directly at [your email] or [your phone number].
Looking forward to hearing from you.
After you sort things out with the patient, it’s a good practice to post a public comment (or edit your initial response) mentioning the agreed outcome. Remember to remain discreet!
7. Ask the reviewer to reconsider the review (or take it down!)
After solving the patient’s issue and getting him satisfied with the solution you provided, it’s the best time to ask, politely, to consider taking down the review. From my experience, most of the reviewers will agree after seeing you go above and beyond to help them. Here is a template that you can use:
Dear (patient's name),
I am glad that I was able to find a solution that worked for you. Your satisfaction is important to us and your care will always be our priority.
As online reviews are important for our clinic and having done everything I could do to help you, is there any chance that you would reconsider your review and rating?
Let me know if there is anything more I can do for you.
8. Conclusion & next steps
Negative online reviews don’t have to be bad for your practice. If you follow the tips above and respond correctly, they can actually be a positive for your medical aesthetics clinic.
It’s important to remember to always ask your patients for a review. As a result, you will get a constant flow of new, hopefully positive, reviews which will top any old negative ones.
InDesk can help you build up your online reputation by growing your portfolio of online reviews. Since 2014, we have perfected review acquisition techniques on behalf of clinics. Not just invite emails, but direct calls to patients to gather their opinion, transcribe their words and send to them, ready to confirm and post on the major platforms. InDesk has this functionality and process built-in, so you will never miss an opportunity to have your clinic’s excellence highlighted for other users.