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How to Handle Negative Reviews

There are effective ways to reduce their impact.




ARE YOU HAUNTED by old reviews, especially bad ones?

Many clients ask whether and how they can be deleted. In some cases, ODs have taken over an office and want to dissociate from the reviews of the old owners. Given the importance of reviews, many of our clients would do anything to wipe the slate clean. Well, unfortunately that is usually not an option (except for a special circumstance that I will discuss below), but there are effective ways to handle undesirable reviews and reduce the impact they have on your reputation.

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A Case When You Can Delete Reviews

If you are taking over a business, you can delete old reviews and start fresh with proof of acquisition, but according to a response from a Google rep to one of our clients, this is not advised because it could negatively affect your SEO. This, of course, is relative. While having no reviews is detrimental both to your new patient acquisition and to your SEO, having a number of bad reviews from an old practice that is no longer relevant might do even more damage. You have to weigh out the situation based on the type of reviews and the importance and quality of your SEO. Keep in mind that 9.8 percent of your visibility in local search engines is based on review signals such as the number and average rating of your reviews, so a lot of great reviews can seriously help your website ranking.


The Alternative to Deleting Reviews

Perhaps the best advice when you have unwanted reviews is to drown them out with positive ones. If you have some bad comments, it’s not the end of the world. Everyone has an opinion, and dissatisfied customers are more likely to post a review than those that are happy with your services. (Studies show that while 35 percent of people review after a bad experience, only 23 percent review after a good one.)

So your job is to make a conscious effort to encourage and even outright ask your happy patients to do so.

How Many Reviews Do I Need?

The answer to this question largely depends on your local competition and where you are starting from. If your biggest competitor has 20 reviews, you want to shoot for 30. If they have 50, go for more, but it has to be reasonable. Growing your reviews is an ongoing process that you should always be working at, and it won’t happen overnight. If you are new to this, have a goal of 20 reviews and aim for a couple every month. The point is that getting reviews is something you need to work at. Many happy customers just need a reminder (or two) to share their experience.

How Do I Get Reviews?

There are a lot of strategies for getting reviews, and we’ve written about this a bunch, but what’s most important is that your whole practice needs to rally around the goal. Getting reviews is a team effort. You see a happy patient in the exam chair, ask for a review. The optician fits a happy customer, ask for a review. The office manager is scheduling a follow up visit, ask for a review. Making patients happy and asking for reviews must become part of the workflow, with everyone on board.


Respond to Bad Reviews

The last important point that needs mentioning is that if you do get a bad review, don’t ignore it. While you don’t want to get personal, go into details or make excuses, you do want to express that you care about customer satisfaction and view this as a chance to improve. While keeping HIPAA in mind, it can help to offer to speak to the disgruntled party to rectify the situation. Other readers will see a professional response that shows good customer service as a positive sign and you never know, the unhappy client may change his or her mind — and review.



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