Dr T.Senthil

Ophthalmologist Chennai

Occasionally you may have an unhappy patient who has posted a negative review on Google or other patient review sites such as mouth shut etc. I am sure you are worried about this review and about the impact it will have on your practice. We will discuss about how to handle the negative review, how to respond to it and how to improve the online reputation of your Ophthalmology Practice.

Though you maybe a stellar Ophthalmologist with wonderful skills, negative reviews are a part of life. Its not fair to expect each patient to give you a nice feedback or a good review. Also, the review may not even be related to your treatment or surgery but may have more to do with your Optical counter or even the washroom in your facility. Hence the good news is that most of the complaints would be in areas which you can easily take corrective action.

Though the negative review may seem unfair to you cannot ignore it and must provide a response to it. Let’s see how we can respond to the negative reviews.

Don’t Respond Immediately. 

Most of us on reading negative reviews about our Clinic or Hospital want to respond immediately. Don’t become emotional, take your time before you respond. Do your research and check why that review has been written and which is the patient and if you remember the patient. Your goal should be to give a respectful and scientific reply to the patient and not an emotional impulsive reply.

Negative Reviews increase trust.

Yes, they do! A customer feedback survey showed that 52% of customers trust a product or a service more if it has a few negative reviews. Hence a few negative reviews actually benefit a practice so learn to be cool with it.

Think from the Patients Angle. 

We tend to hate patients who post negative reviews and form an opinion that these are mostly demanding cranky patients. Its very important to think from the patient’s angle before we come to any conclusion. Some genuine reviews help us by providing suggestions to improve our practice.

Let’s take an example of a review of the Patient complaining about rude behaviour of one of our staffs. We should ask the following questions

1)   Why did the patient feel this way?

2)   Who was the staff on duty during that time? (Generally, patients don’t mention name of the staff)

3)   Were there other complaints about this same staff before?

4)   What is your opinion about that staff?

5)   What can you do to prevent this from happening again?

6)   Should you make any changes that might improve your practice based on this review?

Don’t ask the patient to remove their review. 

The other common mistake we tend to do is without taking corrective action for the review we ask the patient to take the review down. This is a bad practice and the patient might increase the patients bad experience. We should focus rather on addressing the complaints or resolving the problem rather than asking to remove the review.

Some Reviews are fake.

Not all reviews are true, some reviews may be fake and posted by our competitors too, if you are sure that the review is fake contact the review site with your evidences and they may consider removing the review.

Don’t be defensive. 

Generally, we tend to be defensive, this does not help, also we should never argue with the patient. Be polite and acknowledge the patient’s problem and apologise for his bad experience. Address his legitimate complaints and show that you care.

For example if Patient says the Glasses in your Optical shop are expensive , don’t say we are very cheap compared to the premium optical outlet in the next street , just acknowledge that the glasses are a little expensive but you make sure that you give very good quality accurate prescription glasses with a warranty and hence it justifies the cost.

Mode of Response. 

You must decide how to respond to the review, whether privately or publicly. For example if the patient has complained about the surgical process or treatment process then you will not be able to respond in public without breaking patient confidentiality, in this scenario call the patient and discuss or ask him to come to your clinic to discuss the issue.

If the review is about customer service, staff, waiting time etc then you can respond in public and post your answer in the review site itself.

Describe Action Taken. 

If you have made any changes that might address the reviewer’s complaint, it’s very important to communicate it to him. For example, if the complaint is about a rude staff then you can communicate that the staff has been warned and training given to how to handle patients. Thank the reviewer. This is the number one thing to remember: Negative feedback can improve your practice. Although you might not be happy about receiving negative feedback, an online review site can be a good source of honest patient feedback. Don’t you want to know if your patients are dissatisfied? Thank the reviewer for taking the time to give their opinion and let them know they’re helping you improve your practice.

Keep checking review sites. 

You should be updated with the online review sites and its important to respond to negative reviews on time. Many times, we are not aware that a negative review is posted and there is no use in responding to it after say 6 months or one year since by that time enough damage would have been caused.

Ask more patients to post their opinions online. 

Many Doctors feel shy to ask patients to write reviews. If a patient thanks you for good service, you can also ask him to post his review online so that it will help other patients find you. One or two negative reviews will not damage your reputation, however if your entire online presence is only those two negative reviews then it could change the image of your practice, hence ask more and more patients to post reviews so there are more positive reviews than negative ones.

Also do not ask your staff or relatives to post reviews since patients these days are very smart and will be able to find out.

Since most patients these days read online reviews it is very important to handle negative reviews. Take reviews as a feedback mechanism to improve your practice and patient satisfaction. Also, it is not just responding to the review that is important but taking action on the feedback is more important.