How to Respond to Online Reviews (and Spruce Up Your PR)

Here is a riddle for you: What do we always ask for yet dread to receive?

An opinion!

Sure, they’re pretty rad when they’re positive opinions. Who doesn’t like to bask in the warm sunlight of reassurance?

However, stand out in the open air of public feedback long enough and some negativity will inevitably fall upon you. It happens to everyone, no matter how hard you try to be perfect to all patients. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will.

But this is not something to fret about! In fact, in most cases, it’s an opportunity to provide a great response that can build your standing with other potential patients!

Yes, we said making a response. You should have responses to all feedback you receive, positive or negative! Here’s why it’s important to your PR.

Are You Listening?

When you ask for reviews (and you should be asking for them—we have ways to do that!), you are not just trying to get a stellar star rating.

Having a high score may get some people to initially look deeper into your practice, but the clear majority base their final decisions more upon what people actually say in the reviews. According to surveys, at least 4 out of 5 consumers treat online reviews as equally as they do personal recommendations!

But here’s the thing: other people’s reviews of your practice only provides a partial picture of what an appointment with you may be like. Most people are savvy enough to know this, too.

People want to know more about you and responding to reviews can tell them something very important: that you listen to patients.

When someone looks at your listings and sees responses to every review made, they get the impression that you regularly check in to see what people are saying. In other words, you care about their opinions, and that makes you more likely to care about what they say during an appointment, too!

On the Google algorithm side of things, responding to reviews is also an effective strategy. By adding proper responses, you can influence the SEO of your listing and help it show up more prominently in searches.

The way you respond to reviews can build your identity in a potential patient’s mind and your standing on search rankings. Responding to negative opinions can have an especially powerful effect as well, but we will get into that a little bit later. For now, let’s start with the good stuff.

Responding to Positive Feedback

Providing a proper response to someone’s praise is nothing to overthink. Many elements of good practice fall under common sense:

  • Thank the Patient. It’s only polite to say thank you when someone compliments you, is it not? Use their name if they give it and try to be a bit specific about what they mentioned in their review (e.g. “Thank you. We’re so happy we could help you with your heel pain!”). Respect privacy by not getting too specific or mentioning things the patient did not include in the review.
  • Try to Casually Drop Your Practice Name or Location. If it feels normal, adding these items can help with SEO and search rankings. For example: “We were so happy to see you at our Dallas office!” or “Thank you for having such kind words to say about the Advantage Foot Care team.” If you feel you’re trying to shoehorn it in, though, it’s better to feel more natural. You’ll have other opportunities to work these in with future review responses.
  • Keep Things Short and Sweet. Be sincere, but there is no need to go into huge paragraphs of text. You don’t want readers to be overwhelmed by the lengths of your responses so much that the actual reviews feel like they’re on the backburner. That may not come off as well on you.

Responses to good reviews should uncomplicated and fun. Responses to negative reviews, however, do take some more thought.

Responding to Negative Feedback

Responding to negative reviews is never pleasant, but the benefits of doing so are substantial.

The mindset going into a response is important, so this is worth repeating: Everyone will get negative feedback in their listings at least once. One, two, or a few negative reviews is not going to “kill” your reputation.

While a lot of bad reviews is a problem, yes, most people know that you can’t make everyone happy. In fact, companies and practices that have nothing but a ton of perfect reviews tend to gain some suspicion of cheating, while those whose overall rating is within the 4 stars range are seen as more legit.

People expect some negative feedback and responding to it well can show them that you care even when patients aren’t happy and want to try making things right. This can be even more powerful than coming across as God’s gift to podiatry!

Here are some tips to keep in mind when approaching negative reviews:

  • You Are Not Just Writing to the Reviewer. While it would be great to make everything right with an unhappy patient and have them edit their review, life does not always work this way. Remember that others will read your response. Show that you both want to try finding a resolution and that you don’t want this to happen again. This can come across favorably to potential future patients even if nothing changes with the original.
  • Even if the event was not your fault or there is some misunderstanding, it is still best to acknowledge that the patient is not happy with their experience.
  • Offer to Discuss Offline. While you want to show interest in finding a resolution, you do not want to do this in a public forum. You risk leaking sensitive information on the patient, or things just boiling over and melting down right in your listings. The best option is to offer a number and a specific person to call to discuss matters further. You should only use first name only, and the number should not be someone’s personal line.
  • Keep the Response Short and DON’T Include Keywords. Once again, you do not want to come across as trying to drown out the initial review. Also, this is not a case when you wish to have search engines finding this one review specifically and blasting it to the top of the charts.

Let’s Review, Shall We?

While you can have some influence in generating positive reviews on your listings, you can’t fully control what people actually say. What you can control is your response to it—but that means a lot!

We know some practices might be too busy or not know the best ways to respond to their reviews. Our experts at VMD Services handle responses all the time, and work with our clients when negative reviews arise to craft the perfect replies.

And when it comes to generating more positive reviews, we have tools that can help that as well!

Want to discuss your online reputation and review strategies? So, do we! Call us at (833) 823-3335 to schedule an appointment.

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