May 19, 2011
“How Doctors Should Handle Negative Reviews Online”
Tom Sullivan, Turbo Medical Marketing
One common concern with doctors when it comes to social media is review sites. Many think that if they simply avoid review sites they’ll avoid any bad publicity that comes from them. This is a common misconception that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In a previous blog post I explained the importance of being active on review sites. Being inactive will likely only bring about the small number of disgruntled patients. Emphasizing the presence of the practice on sites such as Google Places and Yelp, as well as other medical review sites, will help build up your reviews so that the positive reviews far outweigh the negative reviews.
But what do you do when you do get a negative review? How do you respond? Well you don’t want to do what this doctor did and try to sue. Word got out through social media about what this doctor was attempting to do and that sparked a firestorm of even more negative reviews!
Apparently one person posted a screenshot of the situation on Reddit, and wrote: “This dickface doctor from my hometown is suing a WWII veteran’s family for $50,000 for rating him poorly on the Internet. Perhaps he deserves a few more poor ratings …”
Reddit, which is a social bookmarking site, or a very large collection of blog articles, gets about a million page views per day. Needless to say, this one comment sparked a wave of many more negative reviews, and while the initial review that sparked the lawsuit may or may not have been legitimate, the one’s that followed were definitely not.
So how exactly do you respond to a negative review? Well, you can see the first name of the person who left the review and try to figure out who it was. This can be very time consuming, and chances are that any apology or follow up will be unwelcome anyway. Trying to remove the review may or may not work either. Keep in mind that Google, Yelp and other review sites claim to monitor the content of the reviews, and thus, can determine if a review seems “invalid.” If you truly feel like the reviewer is being untruthful or their comments irrelevant then contact the review site to point this out. It’s worth a try.
In short, there is really no way to “respond” to negative reviews themselves. Most review sites simply don’t allow for any follow up comments to address the reviews. You can deal with and overcome negative reviews by making it as easy as possible for patients to review you online.
Simply suggesting patients find you on Yelp is not enough. Consider follow up emails with links to your review site profiles, or even setting up a work station with a computer in your office where patients can review the doctor.
No matter how good of a doctor you are you’re bound to get a few negative reviews. However, if you help facilitate the growth of positive reviews these negative one’s will seem insignificant.