How to turn a negative review into a positive experience

So, you received a negative review. It happens. Any practice can make a mistake or have a misunderstanding with a patient.

But the best practices know how to take those poor reviews and respond in a way both professional and worth of re-earning customer trust.

The key to this feat? A sincere reply and follow-up action.

Unless you can tell beyond a shadow of a doubt that the review is fake or won’t affect your practice in any way (like if it was shared on an obscure site most people don’t visit), you should always directly respond to the criticism. If the review is particularly exaggerated or misleading, make sure you take time to cool down before responding. Even if you know that whoever posted doesn’t deserve your professionalism and kindness, no one else reading it knows the same.

Once you are prepared to reply in a positive manner do so. When replying you should keep it short and genuine, letting the reviewer—and those reading the review—know that you care they were upset and that you want to make it right. Something like, “We are so sorry you are upset (about XYZ). It is our intention to give our patients the best care possible at our office. Please reach out to us and we will do what we can to make the situation right” is a great way to demonstrate you’re aware of the reason for the poor review and don’t blame the person who wrote it (even if they are at fault). Then by offering to have them contact you, you show that you are open to hearing their side more fully and to learning from your mistake.

Then after you have publicly responded to the criticism take it one step further and act on your response. Give it a day or two and if you don’t hear anything from the patient (and you may not—depending on how upset the patient was they may not want to reach out) you take the initiative and reach out to them. Let them tell you exactly why they felt they needed to share the review and then apologize and if you feel it’s appropriate offer them something to make up for their poor experience—whether that be coming back and correcting something done wrong or a discount on their next visit.

Finally, use the negative review as a learning experience for how to care for your patients even better in the future. Whether it was something small like forgetting to follow-up with a patient right away or something more serious like a botched procedure, every bad review has a lesson. Use that lesson to continue improving your practice. Your patients will thank you.