Let’s face it: little problems, when left ignored, can quickly turn into really, really big problems. Anyone who’s dealt with a leaky set of pipes can attest to that. These little leaks start off innocuous enough—an occasional drip is nothing a well-placed bucket can’t solve. However, if you fail to address the underlying issue, you could find yourself in a lot of hot water—literally.
Much like leaks in your plumbing, negative reviews of your rehab therapy practice can only be ignored for so long. One way or another, you’re gonna have to get your hands dirty. So, grab some epoxy—er, your keyboard—because it’s time for some good ol’ DIY damage control.
Assess the situation.
A cursory Internet search will return all kinds of examples of negative feedback snowballing out of control and causing serious damage to a business’s reputation. Granted, many of these examples are pretty extreme, but with a growing number of people turning to search engines for solutions to health-related issues, practice owners should be taking notice.
Let’s look at the facts. At this point, you probably already know that consumers are more likely to leave a review after having a negative experience than they are after having a positive one. In fact, a recent survey found that respondents who experienced a negative interaction were 50% more likely to share it on social media than those who had a positive experience. Those who had bad interactions were also 52% more likely to post their experience on an online review site. That’s bad news for businesses that accumulate negative feedback online, because the survey results also found that of the respondents who read bad reviews, 86% admitted that the negative reviews impacted their final decision.
Do some at-home repair.
The truth is, a single bad review usually won’t be enough to completely kill a practice. However, just as a leaky pipe can cause serious damage if left unaddressed, bad reviews can seriously harm your practice’s reputation if you fail to respond to them. As WebPT’s Courtney Lefferts states in this blog post, “Although you can’t avoid bad reviews entirely, you can craft responses that show your patients you genuinely care about their experiences in your clinic—and that you’re doing everything you can to improve on the thing that spurred the negative review in the first place.” In other words, it’s better to address the problem head-on than to pretend it doesn’t exist.
Also, it’s absolutely vital that you resist the temptation to delete negative reviews. Deleting negative feedback is basically the Internet equivalent of patching a leak with masking tape: it may go away for a little while, but eventually, it’ll return in full force. The best solution is to address the issue at its source. In fact, responding to negative reviews gives you an opportunity to exemplify your professionalism as well as your commitment to all of your patients—even ones who are less than complimentary. (For some examples of different types of negative feedback—and tips on how to respond to each—check out this post.)
Ask for a hand.
But let’s be honest—it won’t matter how well you craft your response if the only thing folks see is the negative review of your practice. Your future patients need to know that you’ve got plenty of admirers, too. According to this infographic from Vendasta, “40% of consumers form an opinion by reading one to three reviews, 73% by reading up to six reviews, and 88% by reading up to 10 reviews.” So, to get the most out of your online feedback, you’ll need at least 10 positive reviews.
That doesn’t mean you should pack it in once you have 10 great reviews, though. In fact, one of the most common searches for patients looking for PTs online is "top rated physical therapists near me." This means patients aren’t just looking for therapy providers in general—they’re looking for highly-rated therapy providers. So, the more reviews you generate, the more likely it is that potential patients will find you directly. And by making online reviews a constant priority, you’re not only boosting your Internet reputation, but also increasing your visibility to future patients.
Also, don’t forget to leverage your current patients for online reviews. As this blog post explains, “There’s nothing wrong with asking patients to leave reviews. Some clinics even offer small incentives for patients to leave a review as a way to say ‘thanks.’” Just make sure that any thank-you gifts are in compliance with the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) guidelines on gift-giving in a clinic setting, as outlined in this post by Tom Ambury.
For a busy rehab therapy practice, one negative review on the Internet can seem like a tiny droplet in a very large bucket. But if you don’t act quickly and address the issue, those little droplets can quickly build up and spill over the top, leaving you to clean up the mess. Don’t risk your practice’s reputation by ignoring negative feedback. Instead, use it as an opportunity to show your unwavering commitment to all patients, even after they’ve left your care.