It almost always catches you by surprise. Sometimes you get a clue that something was off about a transaction, or you’re aware that you didn’t manage to satisfy a picky patient.
However, you rarely expect the fallout.
A negative comment on social media, a bad rating, or a damaging remark could throw your entire plan off course.
It sounds scary, but you can’t always control it.
If you have the honor and privilege of interacting with your patients online, you will most definitely get an unflattering comment at some point in time.
Considering that 61% of consumers do online research before making a purchasing decision, a bad review can affect the reputation of your physical therapy clinic and cost you sales.
So, how do you handle them?
Thankfully, there are some ways to reduce the impact they have on your business.
But, before we dive in, let’s talk about a bit negative reviews and the damage they can do to your physical therapy clinic.
First Thing First: Not All Negative Reviews Are Bad
Let’s make one thing clear from the start: Getting negative reviews is not always bad. In fact, they can help your business thrive and improve your reputation.
Here’s the thing: a negative comment will not make patients disregard your PT clinic the second they read it. Sure, ideally, people should be satisfied with the services you provide, but a bad rating doesn’t necessarily mean the destruction of your business.
If you know how to respond to it, you can, in fact, turn negative comments into great opportunities for your physical therapy clinic.
Here’s how negative reviews can be good for you:
Negative Reviews Can Help Improve Your Business
Like any other complaint, a negative online review is a learning experience. Your patients are giving your free suggestions on how to improve your products and services.
Think about it – large PT clinics spend thousands on customer survey’s to find out what their prospects want and what they can do to improve their services. You are getting all this information for free.
If, for example, multiple reviews reference a bad user experience, look into your website’s design and take actions to ensure that the bad experience won’t repeat itself in the future.
Mention what steps have been taken to take care of the issue and let your patients know you are focusing on providing them with the best support and services. Use these negative reviews as an opportunity to improve your business and increase patient satisfaction.
Negative Online Reviews Make You Look Real
This may sound odd, but negative reviews can also make your business seem more trustworthy.
When it comes to online reviews, prospective patients want to see both, positive and negative reviews. In fact, if there are no unfavorable comments at all, they might get suspicious.
According to one study, 68% of consumers trusted Yelp pages more when there was a mix of good and bad reviews. If they read only positive reviews, 30% of customers become suspicious of censorship or excessive editing.
The truth is that most consumers read online reviews before making a purchase and many physical therapy clinic managers believe that bad ratings will drive them away. Consequently, a common practice for businesses is to fake reviews in response to a bad rating. But, your audience expects to see both negative and positive reviews and they want to see them.
This way they can make sure your business is professional and trustworthy.
They Are an Opportunity to Highlight Your Customer Service
Customers trust brands that positively interact with them.
In fact, according to a study, 71% of consumers who had a good customer service experience are more likely to recommend that business to others. You can thus use negative ratings to showcase your ability to handle difficult situations.
If a patient had a bad experience, promptly respond to the complaint and make sure you fully address the issue. Direct the client to a private channel and have a one-on-one discussion about the issue and ensure that the bad experience won’t repeat. If you handle bad reviews properly, you can turn unsatisfied patients into brand advocates.
Now, that we’ve made it clear that bad reviews aren’t as terrible as you thought they were, here are five types of negative online comments and how to handle them like a pro.
1. Haters Gonna Hate
You know what the most important thing you can learn from negative feedback is?
Sometimes you just have to tune out.
No matter how good your services are or how much you invest in state-of-the-art equipment, you can’t please everyone. And that’s OK.
If you’ve ever been online, then you should be familiar with the concept of “trolling”. A troll is an annoying creature (more likely, human) who writes inappropriate or offensive comments for the sole purpose of sparking arguments between users.
And, the odds are that your PT clinic’s website has received a review from a troll that left you wondering: how do you respond to that?
The best answer is: you don’t.
By responding to their hateful comments, you are only providing fuel for their fire. Reviews from trolls aren’t productive or relevant. They won’t help you improve your product or create better experiences for your patients.
These are not the kind of negative reviews you can turn around in your benefit.
The best way to react to them is:
- Ignore them;
- Forget about them;
- Focus your time and energy on responding to comments that might impact your business.
2. Negative Reviews from People Who Are Not Your Target Audience
You probably spend a lot of time creating a marketing strategy that you hope will attract the right type of audience.
You should ideally have an in-depth understanding of who your audience is, from basic information such as gender, age, and location, to other more profound psychological traits like pain points, motivations, and service needs.
Obviously, you want to hear their opinion on your services. If something is not right, you want to hear it from the people you are targeting so that you can improve your business where it matters the most.
At the end of the day, any input is welcomed, but you might want to focus more on reviews from your target audience.
After all, those are the people you want to please.
But, how can you spot feedback that is not from your audience and what can you do about them?
If negative reviews are not coming from your patients, if they go against your unique selling point or if they require you to change your entire strategy, then most probably those comments are from people who don’t get what your physical therapy clinic offers.
The best way to respond to them is to read them carefully and to reply by explaining your approach and vision and by suggesting a more relevant product/service.
3. Inaccurate Reviews
Your PT clinic is hardly the first to face this situation and won’t be the last. Businesses, small or big, get all sorts of comments, including some that are inaccurate.
Maybe a patient is confused about the benefits of physical therapy, or maybe they’ve encountered a problem that they don’t know how to handle.
How should you respond?
When this happens, politely ask the unhappy customer for further clarification. After you’ve acknowledged their problem and made any important corrections, try to continue the conversation privately.
For example, “We’d like to learn more about what happened. Could you send us an email …” is a great way to respond to both negative and inaccurate reviews.
4. All Good, But…Review
This type of review is probably one of the most difficult ones to handle. Your patients are complementing your PT clinic, but at the same time, they are complaining about a particular issue.
Although these types of reviews are usually put in a good light, it doesn’t mean they are positive. More often than not, they suggest a small improvement (not a complete change) that could, in fact, benefit a large number of customers.
So, how do you address them?
Firstly, the best thing you can do is to reply to the patient and thank them for their feedback. Then, assure them that you are doing everything to solve the problem.
Don’t stop there. Find a solution to the problem and implement it as good and as fast as possible. Follow up with the customer to let them know about the improvement.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t change your product every time a prospect asks you to. But, if you identify an opportunity that might benefit your patients and improve their experience with the product, then you should consider making some adjustments along the way.
5. The Rough Diamond
This type of negative review could easily be confused with trolls or comments from people who are not your target audience. The difference is that these reviews can be very helpful.
How can you identify a rough diamond reviews?
- They point out a real problem with the product
- It makes you ask yourself “Why does she/he think that?”
- It makes you look at your product from a new perspective.
It’s best to take these discussions offline with the customer, to find out more about their poor experience before addressing the review publicly.
Bonus Tip: Address Negative Reviews Objectively
While you should strive to get good online reviews and increase your ratings, a nasty comment should not terrify you.
As mentioned already, bad ratings don’t mean the doom of your business. Instead, they represent great opportunities to make a meaningful connection with your patients and improve your business at the same time.
The best thing to do when you are faced with negative reviews is to take a second and carefully think about the situation.
Maybe you’ve made an honest mistake, and you need to do your best to make it right, or maybe someone misunderstood something, and you need to let them know about the confusion.
Be prompt with your response and do your best to help customers.
Use helpful tools or a reputation management service that allows you to stay on top of your brand image. Look for a system that makes the task of monitoring brand mentions and collecting reviews easier.
That’s the only way to stay up to date to what your patients want and adjust the services your PT clinic offers accordingly.
In the end, remember that if reputation management gets out of hand, you can always benefit from the services provided by PatientSites.com. Check out our website to learn more about what we can do for you.