How to Handle Negative Reviews of Your Practice

negative review

A good reputation is vital to gaining new patients and beating your competitors. If patients see an overwhelming amount of negative reviews for your practice they will assume the reviews are accurate and choose one of your competitors.

With the recent changes to how Google ranks search results, reviews for your practice and your competitors’ practice are easier than ever to find. Review sites like Yelp, RateMD, Vitals, and Google Plus are usually one of the first results to show up when someone runs a Google search for your practice.

With reviews having a large influence on patients, and being so easy to find, it is more important than ever to manage your online reputation. But what happens when you inevitably get a negative review?

Don’t Panic

A negative review can actually be a good thing. If someone has only 5 star reviews they will seem fake, and people may ignore them. A small number of mediocre or poor reviews will actually give you more credibility, since people know that no one is perfect.

How to Respond

Negative reviews about your practice can feel like a personal attack, but it’s important to stay calm and professional. Try to think about why this patient wrote a negative review, and how things happened from their perspective.

The first step in handling a negative review properly is to publicy acknowledge that you’ve made a mistake (even if you feel that you haven’t) and sincerely apologize. Do not make elaborate excuses, or blame the patient for their poor experience. You may feel the need to explain your side of the story, but people on review sites are always going to side with the reviewer, and not the business.

After you have apologized, offer to fix the situation. If the customer was unhappy about a particular service you performed or product you sold offer to fix it free of charge. While you may lose out on the revenue of a revision procedure, you would lose out on a lot more revenue from new patients that were turned off by the negative review that you didn’t remedy.

What if You Think the Review is Fake

Sometimes you will receive reviews that seem fake and spiteful. These can come from competitors or someone trying to hurt your practice. Depending on the website they left a review on, you may be able to flag and remove the review. If you need help flagging a review please contact us and we can take care of the problem for you.

After you have flagged the review for removal we recommend writing a response. The goal with your response is to show that you care about your patients, and that the review in question is not from a person that visited your practice. You can find a template that you can use below:

Hi [person name], I am truly sorry that you had a poor experience with my practice. I take feedback very seriously, so I had my team attempt to find your information in our system. Unfortunately we have no record of someone with your name visiting our practice. If you could expand upon your review that would be very helpful for me. Please feel free to call me at my office [your office number] so that we can talk about how we can improve our service.

– Dr. [Your Name]

Yelp Gets a Facelift – How it Affects Marketing Your Practice

new yelp design

Yelp has begun rolling out a new design that puts photos of you and your practice front and center. This is part of Yelp’s overall goal to have the most useful information easily accessible, and boost their advertising revenue.

Some of the changes affect only non-medical businesses, such as review highlights, so you can easily see the most popular dishes at a restaurant, or if a bar only sells wine. Other changes may have a direct impact on the amount of visitors and leads you receive from Yelp.

The first major change is the increased focus on photos of your practice. Both photos that you upload, and photos that your patients upload are more prominently shown in the top carousal of your practice listing on Yelp. You can see this in the image above. Photos that are added by patients in their reviews are now larger as well. You can see an example of this below.
yelp larger photo example
The second major change is in the positioning of advertisements. If you do not have an advertising contract with Yelp for your own practice, an ad for a competing practice will be shown right beneath your Yelp listing. You can see an example of this below:
yelp listing with ad
To remove this advertisement you must begin advertising with Yelp. This removes your competitors advertisment, puts your ad on their Yelp listing, and gives you a “Contact Us” button on your Yelp listing. You can see an example of this below:
yelp listing without ad

What to Do

Advertising with Yelp is becoming more and more beneficial. It gets you additional exposure to people that might not find you otherwise, and if you have positive reviews you will outshine your competitors. Be aware that the return on investment varies widely by practice. We have had some clients that have great success advertising with Yelp, and some clients that find it a waste of money. We recommend trying a Yelp advertising campaign for several months and evaluating it’s success before investing large amounts of time and money.