Demandforce Blog - How to respond to negative reviews

How to Respond to Negative Reviews About Your Dermatology Practice

Wouldn’t it be nice to turn a negative review around? No matter what industry you’re in, getting negative reviews are bound to happen. 

After all, dermatologists are seeing multiple patients throughout the day, so how can you possibly manage the expectations and satisfaction of everyone? The answer is that you can’t, and quite frankly, that’s okay. 

The only thing you can do is manage the negativity in a professional, courteous, and caring way. Your first instinct may be to defend your practice and prove someone wrong, but retaining patients and gaining new ones is all about adaptability. Here are a few strategies your dermatology practice can implement to transform negative reviews into a positive experience for everyone involved. 

Always Apologize, Even If You Don’t Want to

According to research by the Harvard Business Review, businesses that respond to customer reviews, whether they’re positive or negative, increases their likability online.

For example, logging on to Yelp and saying a quick thank you to a patient who left a glowing review of their treatment is a great way to acknowledge feedback and reaffirm the care that your brand has for their satisfaction. Interestingly enough, the same consideration should be taken when it comes to a negative review.

You have to understand that a patient’s experience and opinion is subjective. Regardless of how accommodating you are, or how well executed a procedure was, some people are simply going to have a complaint and your best course of action is to apologize for it.  

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but your main goal is to diffuse the situation by claiming ownership of their dissatisfaction and showing kindness. Whether it’s a complaint about high prices or a product that caused some irritation, apologize for the bad experience and acknowledge their concerns. In fact, further research shows that other people who see a business responds to reviews are less likely to post complaints about a business in order to avoid meaningless confrontation. 

Focus On Their Problem

Once your apology is in place, your next move is to focus on the patient’s issue and devise a way to remedy it.

Crafting a generic apology that’s unspecific to the patient’s problem doesn’t get you anywhere. Studies show that 41% of consumers feel empowered by a company that replies to a review. Better yet, 7 out of 10 people will change their mind about a company after they receive a reply to their negative feedback. 

Needless to say, developing a careful, personal response that honors the patient’s concerns shows that you appreciate their time and want to find a solution. Here’s an example of a simple response you can give:

Hey there, 

We’re so sorry that you had a negative experience during your visit. The team at {practice name} generally receives great responses from our patients and hearing that you were unhappy with our service is certainly a priority we want to fix…

Overall, it’s a pretty straightforward reply, but it sets a compassionate tone that’s nearly impossible to retaliate to in a negative way. Your patient should feel heard, understood, and ready to move on because of your response. 

Get Them Offline and Back In Action

Now that you’ve crafted your response, you want to follow it up with an invite for them to contact your practice directly by phone or email. 

What makes online reviews a dangerous game is the fact that conversations are public. If you happen to come across a patient who is particularly nasty or unreasonable, defending your dermatology practice in a string of replies winds up being an ugly display of exchanges that repels potential patients. With that in mind, offer them a quick way to bypass the drama and move the conversation to a private space. From here, you can offer a solution to alleviate their frustration.

Assuming the customer reaches out to you, you can further discuss their concerns and get the details of what made them unhappy in the first place. In some cases, in may have been the execution of a procedure or perhaps an employee made an inappropriate comment. Whatever the reason, take notes and reaffirm your apology with a gesture that gets them back into your practice and into their good graces. 

Offering a discounted price on future treatment, or issuing them a refund on products or procedures is a great way to regain trust and alleviate frustration. Quite often, a customer only airs their problems when they feel the money they spent didn’t get the results they hoped for. 

As a business owner, the trade-off for you is relatively small if it means they’ll return to your practice in the future. Plus, your gesture may even get them to update or take down the review after the fact. However, asking them to do this outright is never the end goal. 

Negative Reviews are Genuine

Rather than thinking of a negative review as a stain on your practice’s reputation, you can look at them as a way to improve your customer experience and grow from it. 

Your online reputation has a strong effect on your overall success, so finding the right tools to manage it leads to positive growth. With Review Alerts from Demandforce, you’ll be notified as soon as a new review about your practice is published online and you can reply to it directly from your smartphone. From marketing automation to increased patient retention, you can rest assured that you’re taking active measures in scaling your practice, and most of all, keeping your patients happy. 

Are you ready to get the conversation started? Request a free demo today!

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