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Clinical Solutions Blog

6 Ways to Deal With a Bad Online Patient Review

Posted by Rick Lau on Nov 4, 2015 1:00:00 PM


It’s very important to think about your online reputation because everyone is searching for healthcare services online. Where do people go to search for a chiropractor or physiotherapist?

In most cases, their first stop is Google!

Nowadays there are lots of different places customers can leave reviews - Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Yellow pages online.

It benefits your business to encourage patients to leave reviews because according to research: 

  • 9 out of 10 consumers trust an online review as a personal recommendation
  • 72% of patients say a bad review stops them from going to a particular health practitioner
  • 44% say they would go out of their network to see someone with good reviews

That means, the more positive patient reviews you have the more customers your clinic will get.

You need to be proactive and encourage your patients to write reviews. But the frustrating thing is when you spend all this money on marketing, you do your very best to provide a great service, and then you get a bad patient review.

At some stage it’s bound to happen, people tend to talk more when they are unhappy, than when they are happy.

So let’s talk about how you can deal with any bad feedback and turn it into a positive.

Here at Clinic Supplies Canada one of our guiding core values is to provide great customer service. As a business owner, that always has to be at the top of your agenda because as the old saying goes “bad news travels fast”.

I am fortunate to be able to work with some very sharp physiotherapy and chiropractic business owners in my one on one coaching program, and we always spend time discussing what’s important in growing a successful business. Especially if you plan to sell your business in the next 5 years.

I’m also lucky to be surrounded by great clinic experts that share their tips to success, and we all know that keeping customers happy is the most important key to success.

In order to do this you have to first know what your patients are thinking. So a great way to get started in gathering reviews and feedback is to design a simple customer satisfaction survey so you can learn what your patients like and don’t like and continually improve your service.

That’s what we do here at CSC and I know many other clinic owners do this.

With the growth of online platforms, we really need to be proactive and constantly engage our customers in this discussion so we know how we can improve.

6 Ways to Deal With A Bad Patient Review 

1) Create a System

So the first step in this process is to create a system to gather patient reviews and get them to post their reviews in different places such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Yellow pages online.

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Here’s how to start implementing a system:

  • Assign your office administrator to give your patients a short survey at the end of their first appointment.
  • Get the patient to fill out the survey before they leave.
  • Ensure that the form has the therapist’s name so you can measure patient satisfaction by therapist.
  • If patient gives you a good score, ask the patient to leave an online review.
  • Send them a follow up email with links on where to leave a review.
  • Keep track of everything on a spreadsheet so you can continually improve your service.

2) Always Respond

Never leave a bad review sitting there without a response. This just looks bad for your clinic. Make sure you respond to all reviews, including the bad ones.

Entrepreneur says it’s important to let your potential customers see that you are actively engaged with your business and what people think. But before replying to a bad review, make sure you take a breath and think about what to say.

Don’t come from a place of anger or be defensive. Thank them for their feedback and tell them how it will help you improve on your service.

Make sure you address the problem, admit the mistake, hear the customer, and offer them a discount or money back guarantee. This instantly turns your bad review into an excellent marketing opportunity. Other browsers will see your commitment to great customer service and it gives them “spending security”, they know they will either get great service, or receive compensation for their issues.

Which brings us to the next tip.

3) Offer Patients A Money Back Guarantee

Another great way to counteract any negatives is to show people that you put great value on your physiotherapy, chiropractic, or massage therapy service by offering a money back guarantee.

Have a clause that is highly visible to customers, such as:

“If you are not happy with your visit, we’ll give you your money back and you’ll get your next visit free”. 

“If you are not happy with your knee brace, get your money back”.  

Or if you have a multidisciplinary clinic, you could offer them another free service like massage therapy. Who doesn't like a free massage?

If you focus on providing great service you won’t get many bad reviews or times when you’ll need to hand back the money. But it gives patients great assurance that you’re going to put your money where your mouth is! At Clinic Supplies Canada, we offer a money back guarantee but less then 3% of our customers ask for it. Your clinic numbers should also be very low if you are delivering exceptional healthcare. 

4) Run With The Opportunity

If a bad review comes along, don’t take offense. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to let your business shine

Len from Groove says this perfectly:

“If you recover from the mistake well, you can actually build a stronger relationship with the customer than you had before.

Marketing professors Michael McCollough and Sundar Bharadwaj call this the service recovery paradox:

The service recovery paradox is the result of a very positive service recovery, causing a level of customer satisfaction and/or customer loyalty even greater than that expected if no service failure had happened.

Good customer service isn’t about completely eliminating mistakes — an impossible task — but about leveraging the opportunity created by a mistake to build a deeper relationship with your customer.”

Great advice!

5) Drown Out The Bad Reviews

 By focusing on step #1, “developing a system in your clinic”, you can always be encouraging good Google reviews and other online feedback opportunities, ask for them, and always be working on implementing this strategy after service delivery.

The idea is if you have more good reviews than bad, then any bad patient reviews get drowned out by all the good things people have to say. Then if people are searching online, they may see one bad review but they also see 10 or 20 good ones for the odd bad one here and there and this quickly helps potential customers make a positive purchase decision.

6) Move on and let it go

There’s no use holding onto it, so move on and let it go.

Don’t take it personally. Work on improving your business from the core.

Use all the feedback you get, both good and bad, as an opportunity to improve training of your team on providing better customer service.

Train your team to communicate better. Train your team on how to deal with complaints effectively. Constantly be working to improve customer satisfaction and you’ll see any bad reviews quickly resolved in a positive way.

If you implement all these steps you’ll see that your physiotherapy marketing dollars will bring a higher return on investment, encouraging virtual word of mouth far and wide.



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