Soliciting feedback — regardless of whether it’s positive or negative — is a great way to establish a more personal connection with your patients.
Ping! An email comes in. You open it and your face drops. One of your patients just posted a negative review on your Facebook page. What do you do next?
Your instinct may be to ignore or delete the review, but I assure you this is not the answer. Trying to silence negative reviews misses a valuable opportunity for us to connect with patients. It sends the message that you are more interested in covering up negative feedback than addressing it and improving your practice.
Many of us in healthcare need to shift our perspective on public patient feedback. Social media marketing is about more than pushing out content. Social media platforms provide an opportunity for us to talk — and listen — to customers. So when we do get feedback, it means these platforms are working well. Negative feedback is not a threat to business or a personal attack; it is an opportunity to show your patients (and potential patients) not only that you listen, but that you are eager to improve their experience.
Below are five tips to effectively manage online reviews:
1. Be Prompt
When a negative review appears, respond in a timely fashion. Creating a policy for responding to online reviews now will help you be prepared to handle the majority of reviews. Pull together important phone numbers and email addresses, and even write sample responses to common questions or complaints.
2. Be Gracious
Resist the urge to get defensive. Instead, address the reviewer’s concerns with professionalism and kindness. Post a public response thanking them for taking the time to share their experience, and apologize that their experience did not meet your standard of care. Your public response shows other members of that online platform that you care about feedback and that you are responsive to concerns expressed by your patients or their family members. Ultimately, that helps to deepen people’s connections with your brand.
3. Move the Conversation Offline
Once you have demonstrated your dedication to making the situation right, it’s best to move the conversation offline as soon as possible. Encourage the patient to contact the office so you can hear more about their experience and learn from it.
4. Differentiating Between Trolls and Concerned Customers
Unfortunately, there are some people who are determined to shock and upset others. It can be difficult to discern between trolls and upset customers. Pay attention to their motivation and tone. If the person is using explicit or inflammatory language, there’s a good chance you are dealing with a troll. No response will satisfy them — instead, they will use a response as an invitation to keep posting.
Trolls want attention. No matter how difficult it might be, ignoring a troll could be your best tactic to get them to leave you alone. If someone uses profanity or harasses other users, consider deleting their comment(s) and blocking the account.
5. Ask For Reviews
The best way to prepare for a negative review is to actively encourage patients who have had positive experiences to post on various social media platforms and review sites. You might even print out instructions explaining how to do so. That way, any negative comments, though valuable, will seem inconsequential compared to the dozens of positive reviews.
Kate Gillmer is a Digital Engagement Specialist at Jennings, a healthcare marketing agency specializing in patient engagement and physician relations. Kate’s specific areas of expertise include strategic account management, medical branding, creative content development/production, public relations, and social media marketing.