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Dealing with Bad Reviews

In any service industry, you’re going to have people be highly critical of your performance. It definitely doesn’t feel good and can be hard to swallow. Your response, however you act, is normal. Research shows our brains consider negative feedback as a threat and triggers our stress cycle which causes our flight or fight response to kick into overdrive. We either want to ignore the conflict and wave it off or fight back with posting our own version of the truth.


The challenge is our obsession with social proof. The critical feedback is dramatized for the public to view and judge us based on other’s one-sided story of their experience. Patients jump quickly to posting their displeasures for all to see and this can have significant consequences in our marketing efforts and reputation management. 


How we want to act must be controlled and our public response must:

  1. Deescalate the situation.
  2. Give the readers insight into our version of the truth without disrespecting the poster.
  3. Provide evidence that we are empathetic to a multitude of situations and willing to work with a variety of patients and their needs.
  4. Retain the poster as a patient- no, you can’t just say anyone that gives you a bad review you don’t want to come back as a patient- while attracting potentially new patients. 


Here’s your formula for responding to critical reviews:


  •  Apologize- “We are sorry.”


Set aside your pride and ego, the review isn’t about you. It’s about that patient’s experience while at your practice. It’s a snapshot of a singular person’s view and it is an important view. Critical reviews are the best way to grow and evolve your skills. 



  •  Accept blame- “We made the mistake.”


When you start by saying the words, “I’m sorry, we messed up,” there is nothing for people to fight about after that. You take away their power over the situation. Also, as soon as you apologize, a reader will develop empathy for you and start to see your side.



  •  Show you care- “We had a meeting.”


People want reassurance that you care about them and their situation.  By stating you took the time to discuss their complaint with the staff shows you care and are committed to making each patient’s experience the best it can be. 



  •  Demonstrate growth- “We are changing.”


Since you had a meeting with your staff share what’s changing. It could be as simple as how you explain something or where you talk to patients. Maybe you created a new process or documented a policy in the patient forms. Or, the team is going to have additional training in a skills area so they can level up their abilities. 



  •  Ask for another chance- “We invite you back.” 


Lastly, it’s vital you always invite the patient back in your response to a bad review. Again, this isn’t because you particularly want the patient to return but it’s for any reader showing them you are willing to move past issues and be the ultimate good guy. 


With social proof being as strong as it is, reviews are going to be a large part of your practice growth.  If you can get to a mental place that the goal is to grow from all reviews regardless of their content, you will experience fewer and fewer negative reviews along the way.



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