Benjamin Franklin once said “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” When it comes to online reviews, the main aspect that many practices still struggle with is responding to those occasional negative reviews.
But like our friend Ben Franklin points out, it only takes one of these negative reviews to be mis-handled and cause damage to a practice.
So how you respond to that public critique and vibe is important.
As you start to navigate your way through the wilderness of online reviews, here are some essential items to pack in your bag if you should happen to encounter the random negative review.
1- Define the Terms: Any experienced hiker will tell you that an important part of an outdoor experience is to know your terrain. Just like a guidebook will tell you where to find water, shelter, and what areas to avoid; defining your terms can help guide you through your response to any negative review.
Constructive Criticism: I know, you are thinking “criticism, are you crazy?! Who wants to hear that?!” Constructive criticism is alive and well, and it is important to be able to hear critique aimed at your improvement so that your practice can grow. An important note is this: the critique should be specific and provide suggestions to improve or helpful feedback toward positive change. This is the only criticism you need to pay attention to.
Condescending Tone: This is something to always avoid in your response to any review, but especially in the response to a negative review. How can you avoid it if you don’t know what it is? Using a condescending tone is showing or speaking in a way that gives a sense of superiority. This can be really patronizing and no one wants to feel as if they are less important than everyone else.
Empathy: Unlike sympathy which deals with understanding based on experience. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. How do you do this when it is a negative online review from a patient? One way would be to put yourself in their shoes, we are all patients, have you ever felt the way they have? If you have, how would you want to be responded to? If you haven’t, then use your imagination, and think about the kind of response that would show understanding for your feelings.
As you respond to negative reviews online, be aware of the kind of criticism being offered, the tone that you are responding in, and be as empathetic as possible. These will help guide you through the sometimes rough terrain of a negative review response.
2-Trusted Tidbits: Hiking 101 will list food and water as tidbits that are essential to bring to the trail. These building blocks of nutrition give constant energy to sustain the hiker on the trail. Below you will find five trusted tidbits, that like food and water, should help keep you sustained and energized should a steep negative review be in your path.
- Keep it short and sweet. The response you give to a negative review does not need to be lengthy. Avoid trying to justify any interaction with your practice, or explanation of events. Keep your response to the point and address all of the concerns the patient may have expressed.
- Give them value. Time is a currency that everyone accepts. Responding to all reviews in a timely manner should be a priority for every practice. For negative reviews it is important to keep the response time in a window of 48 hours. This response time shows that you are paying attention and value their feedback.
- Stay positive. Be kind, genuine, and empathetic. Beat the negativity out with some positive light. Light wins over dark every time...just ask Harry Potter.
- Think before you aim. Do not engage, I repeat....DO NOT ENGAGE. Don’t add to the fire, extinguish it. It can be hard to not take a negative review personally, so take a step back, give yourself an hour or so and then come back to it. Respond only when you feel that you will not be on the defensive side. Hitting back is not a way to end a fight. Resolution is.
- Keep the future in mind. The review is online, it isn’t going anywhere. Respond knowing that the majority will see the review only in the future. Don’t respond to the negativity now, respond to how you want to be viewed later. Take the criticism as an opportunity to grow, improve, and express that. Tell them you appreciate their feedback, and then later share the improvement with them.
It can be difficult to hear negative feedback, especially online where you cannot directly respond and resolve it. Online there is an audience watching how the interactions of both are played out. It may feel at times like a personal attack, but remember this: “Online, the customer is always right, even if they are wrong.” (Suma Kabani)
3-Get on Your Boots: The right footwear can make all the difference. The wrong footwear drags you down, and can cause pain. Good footwear, like a good strategy for responding to negative reviews, can keep you moving, keeping you motivated so that you can focus on the positive reviews and improving your practice.
Negative reviews will happen, they are 100% part of the deal with online reviews. Make a plan, decide how your practice is going to respond to any negative reviews. Then, when you do get a negative review you will already know just what to do. You can respond, then move on.
In the end we are all patients, and we all just want someone to hear our concerns. Listen, respond, and as Kid President says, “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.”
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