A Guide to Addressing Negative Online Reviews
Patients are turning more and more to Google reviews and online resources like social media when making healthcare decisions. In fact, a study from PwC Health Research Institute found that 40 percent of patients report using social media to read health-related consumer reviews. Online reviews help prospective patients learn more about private practices, hospitals and urgent care centers and can have a significant impact on patient acquisition rates.
But what about when you receive negative online reviews? The fact is that it's impossible to please everyone, so most healthcare providers will end up with at least one bad review on a traditional review site, social media or even a podcast. When you come across your first bad review, there are plenty of ways to counteract it.
Addressing Negative Reviews
Check with Your Legal Department First
Most healthcare consumers won’t be too bothered by a negative review if they see you’ve taken the time to respond to the reviewer with a polite, thoughtful message. However, there are situations in which you may not be able to reach out.
Before you click “send” on that Facebook comment, check with your organization’s legal department to ensure that whatever you post will be HIPAA compliant. This needs to be your first step, because there are some murky regulations when it comes to discussing specific cases publicly online. When you can respond, do so calmly and carefully. Take the time to step away and create a calm, considerate response.
Respond When Possible
If your legal department determines you can address a negative review, then address it! Responding to negative online reviews shows that you’re engaged and that you care about your patients’ healthcare experiences. As a result, patient satisfaction rates have been known to double while dissatisfaction rates can decrease by 59 percent.
If you’re not sure how to respond, start by practicing empathy. Let the reviewer know you hear what they’re saying and are working to address the issue.
Again, responding publicly is ideal because it lets people see how you’re engaging with other healthcare consumers. If you cannot do so legally, see if you can respond privately. Even a simple direct message shows you value patients’ opinions, and makes consumers more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.
Encourage Positive Reviews
The world of online reviews is a game of numbers. If you have three negative reviews and 30 positive ones, it becomes clear which is the minority case. However, if you have three negative reviews and only have a few positive ones, prospective patients are more likely to notice the bad reviews. The problem here is that unhappy patients are often eager to leave an unpleasant review, but satisfied patients might not even think to do so.
Thus, one great way to combat negative online reviews is to encourage happy patients to leave a positive review. You can identify satisfied consumers by handing out a satisfaction survey that calculates a net promoter score, a metric that determines how many patients are promoters of your brand. Once you’ve identified your most satisfied patients, simply ask if they’ll leave an online review. It will only take a few minutes, and chances are they’ll be happy to do it.
Unfortunately, negative reviews are a common part of doing business in our ever-connected world today. When possible, let the negativity die out naturally and continue serving your patients to the best of your ability. The best way to counteract negativity is with happy patients.
If you haven’t already, also consider implementing psychographic segmentation to drive patient acquisition. This proven and proprietary model gives you insight into your individual patients’ preferences, lifestyles and motivations. These findings, in turn, can help you provide an even higher level of personalized care, improve satisfaction rates and encourage more people to recommend your organization to their friends and family. When you can deliver the best message to patients in a way that makes the most sense to them, you add another positive layer to the patient experience.
By addressing negative online reviews, healthcare providers not only drive patient satisfaction but also improve their patient acquisition rates. Satisfied patients are likely to turn into your biggest promoters, helping you increase your market share.
For more on psychographic segmentation and other patient acquisition strategies, download our case study.