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How to Beat Bad Reviews by Marketing Health

Bad Reviews

I try to look away as that sinking feeling swells in my gut. And then I just get mad. This is so unfair. Did I really just get another bad review? Do they understand how much this hurts my business? I'm caring for 15 or more very happy patients a day, and one bad Yelp review makes it sound like I'm a hack, heartless, careless, incompetent. There is something very wrong with this system. I can't meet these standards. I'm not perfect. What can I do?

-Anonymous Doctor

You're right. There is something wrong with this system.According to research, 95% of people who feel they were treated poorly are going to tell someone about it compared to a much lower number who share good experiences. About 50% of these 95% end up sharing with multiple people on social media or review systems. It takes 12 good experiences to cancel out 1 bad experience.

And when you consider the fact that everyone "perceives" things differently, these odds are just not in your favor. A person who has had a bad experience is much more likely to share it, so if you have 1 out of 100 patients who are unhappy, chances are that 1 person is going to write a review that others will use to determine whether or not they want to come to your practice. Most of the time, you don't even know who wrote the review so you feel helpless. With a deck stacked against you, how do you beat these bad reviews? What can you do, but just get angry? The fact is that they hurt.

Unfair Reviews

But the good news is that you can beat bad reviews -- assuming you are a decent doctor and those reviews really are unfair.

Medical organizations like Doctor's Offices, Dialysis Centers, Surgery Centers, Medical Equipment Companies and any one else who feel like they are fighting this uphill battle can fight back against bad reviews and develop a strong competitive advantage at the same time.

1. Don't Ignore the Bad Reviews

Bad reviews really hurt. They damage our pride, which probably hurts more than a root canal without a nerve block. But we can't ignore them. We need to read them, as unfair as they may seem, to gain insight into what we can control. Is it our "bedside manner", Do patient's feel rushed? Do they feel like they are not cared for? Do they say they are being mistreated by the front desk? It may be time to evaluate what truth there may be behind these reviews. Remember, all positive change starts with you.

2. Don't Sweat the one-offs

"The customer is always right" was a phrase coined by the founder of Macy's Department Stores some 100 years ago as a marketing ploy to gain consumer trust -- which is not a bad thing, It has been ingrained in our psyche's. But no, the customer is not always right. No business today could function on that premise. Everyone is not honest or reasonable. Make note of every review, and try to consider it objectively, but focus on fixing things that you hear from 2 or more people or you'll be racing down rabbit holes.

3. Don't discourage bad reviews

It doesn't work and it often has the opposite of your desired effect. Don't try to tell people how to write a review or when to write a bad review or to talk to you before writing a review. It only conjures up negative emotions and will result in more bad reviews .

A review feels like a punch in the gut. But it is the greatest bit of insight that you can gain as a business owner. The alternative is people leaving your practice, never coming back and you have no idea why, so you can't fix anything.

4. Get More Positive Reviews

This is not just about providing better service, but actually legally soliciting good reviews. Remember, people who are angry are more likely to give reviews -- period. But people who have good experiences, need a reminder. In fact, research shows that people who are reminded to leave a review before any service has been rendered are more likely to say something "nice".

We can analyze the psycology behind this one all day long, but I personally think it boils down to the fact that when we ask for reviews before we have done anything, we are showing in a very real and tangible way that their opinion matters to us. And we listen. Knowing that we care about their opinions, they are more likely to see our efforts to make their visit go well. Never offer discounts, freebies, or hugs in exchange for reviews. This is unethical and will backfire. Besides, hugs should always be free -- when appropriate.

You can tip the scale in your favor by understanding this bit of psycology and using it to your advantage.

Bad Reviews

5. Let Patients Get to Know You

82% of customers feel more positive about a brand (You) when that brand provides them with custom content. 60% of customers enjoy reading custom content about the brands to whom they give their time and money. You are a brand if you are a business. Custom content is content that you give customers/patients for free to engage, inspire, inform.

Doctors have had content in their offices since the invention of the printing press: Brochures, Posters, Handouts, etc. But today custom content has entered a new realm and has become digital.

By sharing on your website helpful information for your patients along with insight into what your profession does, customers feel closer to your business. This content serves several purposes:

  • It helps new patients find you. Your custom content will appear in Google and other searches. New patients will discover you naturally because they appreciate the interesting content that you post. This has been shown to be 3X more effective than traditional methods (commercials, ads, etc.) but costs 62% less than old fashioned marketing.

  • It fosters loyalty from existing patients. Because patients feel that they know your practice on a deeper level, they are more likely to stick with you and recommend you to others.

  • It reduces bad reviews as more patients see you in a positive light and want to share with others.

  • It improves patient engagement. Patients can learn from the content that you post online and be more engaged in their health.

6. Hire A Professional for Content Creation

Unless you have 5 star writers in your practice or you want to take your time writing custom content instead of practicing medicine, you're best option to beat bad reviews is to hire a professional who understands the medical industry and can communicate complex medical topics at an engaging and easy to understand reading level. Not just any content will suffice. This is marketing in the 21st Century. Forbes magazine says "it's time to double down on content", because it works.

Custom content is proving its worth and 62% of businesses are seeking the assistance of outside writers to develop engaging content for their practices.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you would like to find out just how easy and effective it is to incorporate custom content into your marketing strategy, contact me. I work to help you beat bad reviews, acquire new patients and gain loyalty from those you have.


Content Marketing


What do you do to improve your reputation?

Do you find that being a great doctor is enough?

Leigh Clayborne is a Hubspot certified freelance content marketing / SEO content writer & strategist with 10 years of healthcare management experience on 15+ years of creating content. She is a strong proponent of creating the right customer experience to meet business goals.

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