By Jen Butler, MEd, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

September 21, 2018 -- In any service industry, you're going to have people be highly critical of your performance. It definitely doesn't feel good and can be hard to swallow. Research shows that our brains consider negative feedback as a threat that triggers our stress cycle. This causes a flight-or-fight response. We either want to ignore the conflict and wave it off or fight back with posting our own version of the truth.

Jen Butler, MEd
Jen Butler, MEd.

The challenge is that this critical feedback is dramatized for the public to view and judge us based on others' one-sided story of their experience. Patients may jump quickly to posting their displeasures for all to see; this can have significant consequences in our marketing efforts and reputation management.

How we act must be controlled. Likewise, our public response should be focused on the following four actions:

  • De-escalate the situation.
  • Give the readers insight into our version of the truth without disrespecting the poster.
  • Provide evidence that we are empathetic to a multitude of situations and willing to work with a variety of patients and their needs.
  • Retain the poster as a patient. No, you can't just say that anyone who gives you a bad review can't to come back as a patient, while attracting potentially new patients.

5 tips

Here's your formula for responding to critical reviews.

1. Apologize

Set aside your pride and ego. The review isn't about you -- it's about that patient's experience while at your practice. It's a snapshot of a singular person's view, and it is an important view. Critical reviews are the best way to grow and evolve your skills.

2. Accept blame

When you start by saying the words, "I'm sorry, we messed up," there is nothing for people to fight about after that. You take away their power over the situation. Also, as soon as you apologize, a reader will develop empathy for you and start to see your side.

3. Show you care

People want reassurance that you care about them and their situation. By stating that you took the time to discuss their complaint with the staff, it shows that you care and are committed to making each patient's experience the best it can be.

4. Demonstrate growth

Since you had a meeting with your staff, share what's changing. It could be as simple as how you explain something or where you talk to patients. Maybe you created a new process or documented a policy in the patient forms, or your team is going to have additional training in a skills area so they can level up their abilities. Whatever your solution, show your willingness to address the situation in a meaningful way.

5. Ask for another chance

Always inviting the patient back in your response to a bad review is vital. Again, this isn't because you particularly want the patient to return, but it's for showing any readers that you are willing to move past issues and be the ultimate good guy.

With social proof being as strong as it is, reviews are going to be a large part of your practice growth. If you can get to a mental place that the goal is to grow from all reviews regardless of their content, you will experience fewer and fewer negative reviews along the way.

Jen Butler, MEd, is the CEO and founder of JB Partners. For business coaching and consulting, leadership, and stress management services, contact her at jen@JenButlerPartners.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.


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