How to handle bad reviews on Google (and elsewhere)

How to handle bad reviews on Google (and elsewhere)

Welcome to Practice Treatment Plan’s Weekly New Patient Marketing Tips! Today’s tip is part four of a 5 part series in October all about Google Reviews. Here is a quick preview of what is coming up. For more information please call 888.412.8820 or email me at

Please note: based on your requests, we have provded links below to past articles.

Oct 1st: Importance of Google Reviews
Oct 8th: Three Ways to get Google Reviews
Oct 15th: Three MORE ways to get Google Reviews
TODAY: How to handle bad reviews
Oct 29th: What about other review sites?

Last week we gave you three MORE ways to get google reviews. This week, we will tackle the best way to deal with the dreaded negative reviews.

Even the best practices are bound to receive a less than stellar review every now and then. Do not let this deter you from creating your Google+ Business page! In general, people understand that businesses are going to receive a bad review from time to time. The truth is, bad reviews are manageable.

Tip #1. Get More Positive Reviews.

Yes, I know… Easier said than done. In fact, what motivates most practices to start gathering positive reviews is when they get a really negative one. But the most important thing to manage bad reviews is to have more positive reviews than negative ones. The positives will always drown out the negatives.

Tip #2. Respond to Negative Reviews.

There are two types of negative reviews your practice can receive: ones you deserve, and ones you do not. (We had a startup client once that received a negative review before he had even opened his doors and started seeing patients! Clearly, that was not one he deserved.) More often than not, the ones you do not deserve are based on a misunderstanding, that if explained can be rectified. Both types of reviews are worthy of response, and in responding you should follow these guidelines:

  • Be appreciative. What!? Are you crazy!? I am serious. Always start a response with something like “We appreciate your feedback and are very sorry that you did not enjoy your experience at our practice. We are continuously striving to improve our services for our patients.”
  • Be professional. The response should be from the practice, not one individual in the practice.
  • Be polite. No matter what types of accusations are being thrown at you, don’t get caught up in a verbal spat online.
  • Be positive. Focus on what you do well, and what your policies are that are beneficial to patients. Avoid typing things like “we didn’t” or “we never” and instead use language like “we always try to deliver exceptional service”.
  • Be firm. You do not have to be a pushover. If a patient (or someone else) is making a false accusation, you can refute it (but see “be positive” above). If someone is not even a patient of record, feel free to point that out.
  • Be sorry. This one comes with a caveat. You should only express this if you were wrong. Did a patient have to wait two hours? Then apologize and invite the patient to contact you to discuss offline.

Tip #3. Reach out.

Ignoring these issues will not make them go away. If you can identify the patient who left the review, reach out to them. If you feel you did nothing wrong, have a conversation and try to clear it up. If you you were in the wrong, then apologize to them. You will be shocked how quickly a detractor can become a promoter.

You could also offer a “make-good”. In the marketing business, a make-good is a special offer to make-good a bad service experience. Apologize, then offer them a $100 off future treatment at the practice.

Next week we will discuss other business review websites!

Practice Success,

Benjamin Suggs
New Patient Marketing Strategist
Practice Treatment Plan, Inc.