If you're a dermatologist, plastic surgeon or medspa you've probably and you've been in business for a while, you've probably had some comments or reviews posted about you online that are less than flattering.
Cosmetic medicine seems to suffer from 'perfection expectations' more than other practices and with the advent of the internet and patients increasingly savvy use of it, it's easy for a less than perfect outcome or lapse in customer service to become a public event that's driving away new patients and tarnishing your online reputation.
It's important to remember that even when 20% of all medical spa reviews are fake, that these are actually opportunities that you can use to both expand your reach and come across as a real person (which can actually help you considerably), but before you start penning a groveling apology let's take a look at how we can do some comment-judo and see if we can't turn these hurtful words to our advantage.
Here are 7 things that you can do turn around negative reviews of your clinic or medspa.
1. If the criticism has merit, apologize fast and accept responsibility.
We've all dropped the ball in some way. The more 'real person' and human you seem the more forgiving others are. Respond quickly and mean it, then outline what you're going to do to fix it now and in the future. Getting this right will position you as a clinician who cares rather than a defensive and patronizing jerk.
Had to wait too long to see someone? Wouldn't match the other local medspa's pricing? Couldn't use a Groupon after the expiration date? Admitting a negative has a strong psychological association with the truth, and you can use a small admission to actually increase your trustworthiness. Just be sure to do it fast, completely, and without that hint of sarcasm or patronizing tone that can often creep in.
2: Use it as real feedback and an opportunity to improve.
The worst reviews are the middling reviews of three thats that don't illicit enough emoitional response to even let you know where you're falling short. At least a one star review and an outpouring of profanity lets you know that you have a real problem that you can address rather than a festering wound that goes unnoticed but is continually costing you patients and damaging your reputation. So, if you get lampooned, take it as an opportunity to track down the real issue.
From Shmula: Henry David Thoreau said “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil for every one striking at the root.” His statement was a commentary on the human condition but, I believe, describes quite well the state of most companies: companies launch initiatives that don’t actually attack root causes of business problems, instead their aim is on the branches — we need to pay Taiichi Ohno’s 5-Why’s a visit and remember that surgically attacking statistically validated root causes is the only way to solve problems, improve the customer experience, and improve the enterprise.
Taiichi Ohno is known to have said that “having no problems is the biggest problem of all.” He viewed problems not as a negative but as a “Kaizen opportunity in disguise.” Whenever problems arose, he encouraged his staff to investigate the problem at the source and to as “ask ‘why’ five times about every matter. Here's one of his favorite examples:
1. “Why did the robot stop?”
The circuit has overloaded, causing a fuse to blow.
2. “Why is the circuit overloaded?”
There was insufficient lubrication on the bearings, so they locked up.
3. “Why was there insufficient lubrication on the bearings?”
The oil pump on the robot is not circulating sufficient oil.
4. “Why is the pump not circulating sufficient oil?”
The pump intake is clogged with metal shavings.
5. “Why is the intake clogged with metal shavings?”
Because there is no filter on the pump.
The purpose here is to follow through and discover what's going wrong with your processes that can be fixed or improved. in many cases it's easy and relatively simple.
1. “Why did this patient feel the need to post a negative review?”
She was upset that she couldn't book her regular appointment for Botox.
2. “Why couldn't she book her regular Botox appointment?”
The front desk couldn't schedule her treatment at the time she requested.
3. “Why couldn't the treament be scheduled?”
The front desk software showed that there were no available appointments.
4. “Why were there no avialable appointments?”
The software won't make appointments of less than 15 minutes and won't allow double-booking.
5. “Why can't we double-book in the software?”
Because we haven't taken the time to change the settings in the software.
Perhaps that example doesn't fit you but the idea is clear. Track your issues back to the root with purpose and take care of them.
3: Overcompensate with your response.
Going overboard in your response can position you as someone who will do almost anything to please your patients. If you do it right you'll come across as one of the good guys who, even in the face of a disgruntled or angry patient, can respond with level-headed care. Using Twitter or Facebook to reach out to a (justifiably) disgruntled patient and offering them a free product, service or treatment (or more) is worth far less than it would cost for all the free advertising and congratulatory press you can get. Remember to be reasonable and don't pinch pennies or go so far overboard that it feels contrived.
If you are successful with this tactic you can reuse it across the board. Publish photos of this patient being treated in your medspa along with a few sentances and perhaps a testimonial (if you can win them back).
4: Humor always wins if it's done well.
Humor is the great equalizer that can take the sting out of any attack, especially if the attackers go overboard. Take a look at this video published by Bodyform in response to criticism on Facebook about periods being over-hyped with beauty shots.
In 2012, Bodyform received a well written complaint on their Facebook page lamenting how tampon adverts always presented an idyllic lifestyle rather than the less pleasant experience of real life... and his post was racking up likes. Instead of taking it lying down, Bodyform responded with a well-produced sarcastic apology that generated over five million views and received an overwhelmingly positive response.
5: Never leave it alone.
Any of the tactics above can work depending upon the circumstances, but the primary thing you want to do is make sure that you respond appropriately as soon as you're aware there's an issue. Any response is better than no response at all.