Monday, July 26, 2010

How to respond to patient reviews online

We've previously discussed how patient reviews can be helpful in marketing efforts, but how do you respond to them? That depends on whether the review is positive or negative.

Here are some tips to keep in mind depending on the tone of the comment.

If a review is positive:
Thank the commenter and perhaps tell them how it makes you feel. Try to take something specific from their comment and expand on how you excel at that aspect or how you've worked hard to do so well at it.

If a review is negative:
Again, thank the commenter for his or her feedback and explain how you will use it to improve. Or better yet, explain how you've already used it to improve or have otherwise taken action to correct the situation. Invite them to try your service again so that you may have another chance to impress. Never make excuses for why something went wrong and never place blame elsewhere. And for Pete's sake, don't ever, ever argue with the commenter!

A fast response is always best, but not if you're upset by the comments. Take at least a few minutes to remove yourself from the situation so that you can respond politely and diplomatically.

When NOT to respond:
Don't bother responding if it appears the commenter is "flaming." Some people, for whatever reason, love to post negative comments in discussion forums without any merit simply for the purpose of angering readers and causing a disturbance in the conversation. If you suspect this is happening, it is probably best to keep your distance. Otherwise they'll just try to suck you into an online argument.

When you don't have the ability to respond:
This is only an issue if the comments are negative. If this happens, your best bet is to ask some of your patients to submit their own ratings to the review site. This will counter the effect of the negative posts and give readers a well-balanced picture of your practice.

You can also counter these reviews with your own testimonial-building campaign. We happen to have a patient loyalty builder that gives you a place to collect testimonials and respond to comments.

Do you have more tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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