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.

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Dealing With Anonymous Patient Reviews As A Physician

Reputation Management for Doctors

The internet is a double edged sword to the Plastic Surgeon.

Patients from near and far can read about and research our skill and services but at the same time a handful of malicious people can significantly tarnish a great reputation which we have strived to achieve and maintain.

As a surgeon and as a human I have always strived to maintain the highest ethical and moral pathway. Most of us went into medicine to help people. What we do as cosmetic surgeons may not save lives but it does save quality of life and that is evident in our patients' smiles and behavior after successful cosmetic surgery. As doctors we strive to achieve and maintain a pristine reputation but as in anything else in life, it is impossible to please all the people all the time.

The internet has given a voice to everyone but it seems like angry, bitter, malicious people take advantage of this soap box and platform much more often than normal happy folks. You can see this on comments on YouTube or blogs or chat rooms of all kinds - not just medical or plastic surgery related.

But in our field, we depend on our reputation and while you may have thousands of happy patients, a small handful of unhappy ones can affect your reputation. Personally I have seen that the vast majority of my negative online anonymous patient reviews or ratings are from people who I have either never seen in my office or have seen but refused to operate on as patients. I recently had a "1 star negative review" on YELP from a person who has never even come to my office nor met me but decided that she did not want to pay $100 for an hour of my time for a consult and felt obligated to give me a negative rating for not offering free consults! We have all had such occurrences. But how do you deal with it?

My method has always been dealing straight forward with any and all comments.  If it is out there then it begs clarification and a reply from my staff or office managers or even myself.  There has to be accountability.  In the restaurant industry, restaurants can actually review and rate their patrons, not just vice versa! As physicians, we have to respect patient confidentiality and HIPAA but that does not mean we must be silent and let any anonymous person's comments go without a reply or clarification especially when most of us work so hard to do the right thing and practice with skill, ethics and integrity.

Resources for physicians: