By Joanna Slusky, OD, Halsted Eye Boutique, Vision Source®, Chicago, Illinois
Let’s be honest. We’ve all been there. I’m sure that there has been a time when a fantastic 5-star review has made you feel like you’re on top of the world and then a 1-star review made you want to quit practicing and move to a deserted island. It happens to the best of us, but the most important thing to remember is that although we have no control over what someone writes about us—we always have control over how we react.
Reply to all reviews—good and bad.
- Think of the reviews as free business consulting and constructive criticism. They are a way for us to improve our business practices, enforce better management strategies and create new employee tasks/rules/guidelines.
- Think of the reviewers as your personal fan club! If they love you, they’re hooked, and they want to tell the world about you (and send you more patients). If they hate you, well, they will talk about you—so the only thing to do is to get them to see that you’re not so bad after all and that you care about their feelings/opinion/experience.
Always respond to negative reviews in a polite and diplomatic way.
- Do not get defensive.
- Do not accuse the reviewer of being a fraud.
- Reply privately first. Yelp, for example, has a private and public reply option. Reply cautiously and always use the private reply option first.
- Thank the reviewer for his or her feedback. Let all reviewers know that you value customer feedback and appreciate the time they took to share their experience with you.
- Acknowledge that what happened was not a malicious act but rather a mistake or a misunderstanding.
- Politely state your policies.
- Explain what steps you are taking to rectify the situation, i.e., holding a staff meeting, changing policy or reassigning staff responsibilities.
- Request that the dissatisfied reviewer contact you privately to provide more details/feedback of what may have transpired.
Try to make it right.
- Ask what you can do to rectify the situation, acknowledging that you take pride in offering great customer service and that patient satisfaction is imperative.
- Offer something as an apology for the inconvenience that this reviewer experienced. If the reviewer is unhappy with the lenses, offer to remake them. If the reviewer is unhappy with the eyewear fit, offer to let the customer select a different frame. A one-month bottle of contact lens solution or a one-month supply of contact lenses could be an appropriate offer for a contact lens patient. You can also offer a discount, for example 40 percent off, toward the patient’s next eyewear purchase.
- Save the partial refund as a last resort. If no other offer seems sufficient, you can offer to refund 25 percent to 50 percent of the patient’s purchase – not services. Check with your manufacturer to see if you can get a discount on that product.
- Offer your personal email or cell for further contact regarding the issue.
Pause before sending your response.
- Before you send your message in reply to a negative comment, save it. Return to it a day or two later, reread it to confirm that it is polite, sincere and lacks anger or sarcasm. Then, finally, press send.
Click here to read our story with Dr. Slusky from 2012.