The Internet has given considerable power to the modern-day customer. Reviews have become a very valuable form of currency for businesses of all kinds. And while it’s impossible to have a perfect score over a large sample size of reviews, having more positive reviews than negative ones is obviously highly desirable.

One thing that’s often forgotten is that a negative review isn’t quite the unanticipated assault that many consider it to be. As a physician, you have a say in how a patient will review your process. Here are three ways you can counteract negative reviews. In some cases, you may be able to thwart them before they get published.

Improve Your Follow-Up Process

In a traditional goods-based business, you wouldn’t sell an item to a customer and then decline to market your products until the next time that customer came in to make another purchase. And yet, that’s what many doctors do every day. Not only does the lack of follow-up put more distance between a satisfied patient and their pleasant visit, but it makes a negative interaction that much more damaging.

Using automated software can help you to follow up with the patient without any manual intervention on your part. Services like MailChimp allow you to schedule emails for a pre-set time after an appointment takes place. This provides the patient with adequate time to come up with any post-appointment questions while simultaneously reminding the patient of anything you’d like them to keep in mind.
Of course, one thing you’d like them to consider is writing a review on your behalf. The vast majority of new business in the medical industry comes as a result of word of mouth referrals. By writing a review, a happy patient is paying it forward for the next individual who comes across your practice. It also enables you to see if there is anything you can improve on in future visits, such as reducing waiting room times.

Publish Original Content

Content marketing has become a full-fledged force in consumer marketing. Instead of blasting useless promotional materials that don’t hit the mark, companies now focus on providing relevant industry content to its audience of interested followers. The result is that the modern customer is better informed and is more equipped to make an educated choice – and is willing to pay a premium to do so.

The medical industry has been slow to follow this lead. However, this lack of activity belies the data available regarding online medical research. Nearly three-quarters of American Internet users have sought out medical information online over the past year, the vast majority of whom began their search at a search engine. In other words, if you publish content that people in your specialty might care about, they’re very likely to find you.

You don’t have to go to great lengths to produce your content. Simply providing relevant blogs and videos about relevant topics ensures that you’ll stay near the top of the search rankings in your field, making it that much easier for your practice to be perceived in a positive light. Doing this will not only curry favor within your medical specialty but if your name appears in search engines for the content you’ve created, it will drown out any negative reviews that might exist online. This is crucial – 70 percent of potential customers will seek out a competitor if you have four or more negative reviews present in Google search results.

Don’t Get Defensive

Nobody likes to receive a negative review. Alas, they’re part of life in the Internet age, and much of the impact of negative reviews depends on how you handle them.

The first thing to remember is that an angry response to a complaint will just make things worse. Don’t respond with anything negative; this will simply give the complainant more reason to argue with you. Instead, respond by thanking the individual for their comment and apologizing for their negative experience.

Next, ask the customer to contact you directly via email or phone. This is a common way to handle customer complaints in many types of businesses, but in the medical industry, this is an absolute must. Because of HIPAA regulations, you must be careful not to publicly reveal any patient information. Be sure to take the communication offline at your first opportunity; however, let the world see that you’ve responded to the review and invited the individual to discuss the matter. At the end of the day, the patient just wants to be heard. By responding, you’re showing that you do care about your patients, and that will go a long way with people who read your reviews.

The ability to manage your negative reviews is an increasingly essential part of medical marketing. There’s simply too great a cost in ignoring the conversation surrounding your practice. Interested in online reputation management or a free marketing assessment? Click here to contact HIP Creative.