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The importance of responding to "ALL" Online Reviews

In this day and age of Internet “authors” almost all of us that own aesthetic practices have a new challenge to meet.  

How to deal with online reviews? We all know the impact of online reviews that are negative. In looking through over a 50 websites with reviews I found a troubling statistic. 97% of these websites only responded to negative reviews and missed out on a golden opportunity to improve their search engine ratings by responding to every review.

Let’s look at the first impact of only responding to negative reviews and that’s being put in a reactive mode that is going to almost always be defensive and will stand out like a sore thumb. I urge you to think like a patient when reading reviews and especially replies to reviews. If you were a patient and had taken time to write a positive review wouldn’t you liked to be thanked for it? Wouldn’t you like to read that the owner/physician of this practice also took their time to reply back to you?

By only replying to negative reviews we usually create a negative stream of content to and from.  In most cases that I read through, the negative review would generate 2 replies from both the poster and the owner/physician and the more post, the higher the positioning will be. Now contrast that with replying to all reviews. If you have 30 online reviews on Google and reply to all of them, you effectively have 60 reviews. 

It does not need to be lengthy. Something as simple as “Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know of your outstanding results. My team and I love what we do and look forward to seeing you again soon”. If you were a perspective patient looking for a place to visit and read how engaged the practice is with their patients, wouldn’t you be more inclined to visit a place that looks like they really, really care? Of course you would…

The other positive aspect of replying to reviews as the owner is that you can quickly bury a negative review off of page one. All it takes is the creation of and responding to 3-5 positive reviews and the 5th down negative review is now on page two. When replying to negative reviews also try and think like a perspective patient.  Try not to engage the patient unless they misrepresented their visit. Something like, “I was sorry to learn of this negative experience.  We greatly value both your treatment and our reputation.  Please email me at () with the details of what happened so I can get involved and work at trying to find a solution to this issue and thanks so much for letting us know”.  Now if you were again a perspective patient and read the owners reply, wouldn’t your image of the practice still be very high despite a negative review.

Now get to work on finding a mutually agreeable win/win solution. In most cases, you will be able to find some way to satisfy the patient. If not at least the reader will see that you tried by your initial response. If however you try and “air” the defense of the negative review online, it will usually result in an ugly exchange that will benefit no one.

So, embrace all the online pontificators. The old adage, “if you can’t beat them, join them” applies as does “silence is acceptance”. Let everyone read how much you care by replying to all reviews.

Reader Comments (4)

But, by responding to online reviews (those responses that the public can see) no matter how carefully you word it, you are almost always violating patient privacy and HIPAA laws.

03.13 | Unregistered CommenterCAL

I'm not an attorney however if a patient chooses to post something about their treatment on Google which is very public and your reply does not mention their treatment per se, why is there a HIPPA violation? If you look at the responses I suggested, no where do I mention the patients specific treatment or service. I don't believe this is an issue but not replying will be far more damaging to your practice. Also most reviewers rarely use their first or last names so their identity is unknown anyway.

yeah i agreed to the importance of responding to all online reviews because it means our commitment to responsible on our posting at the blog or our 'maintenance' to our readers

We always recommend reaching out to the reviewer directly and in private before responding publicly on the review site. And then, if that fails, reply to the review very carefully so you're not violating HIPPA. Something very generic, and not at all defensive.

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