6 Critical Rules for Responding to Negative RE Reviews

By Griffin Jones

Here is the most important thing for reproductive endocrinologist and infertility (REI) specialists to keep in mind when responding to reviews: the reviewer is not the only person to whom you are responding. The reviewer has an audience. That audience is comprised of the people who are using these reviews to decide if they should become your patient. This is why Google ranks these sites on the first page of a search for your fertility center or physician name. 

These are my rules for responding to negative reviews:
1.    Address the commenter by his or her first name (if given).
2.    Acknowledge their right to their feeling of concern or frustration.
3.    Respond as quickly as possible.
4.    Do not respond to “vindictive” reviews. Vindictive reviews (example below) can be characterized by the presence of name calling, vulgarity, and/or lack of reference to a particular problem. Instead of reaching a solution, a response is more likely to invite further insult. 
5.    Never combat, discredit, or insult the reviewer. 
6.    Do not attempt to explain away the situation. Often, when I see physicians do this online, they invite a HIPAA risk. Ex: “Well Sandra, that day when you were in the office...” can be argued as adding protected health information (PHI). Don’t do it. 

It is okay to ignore vindictive reviews like these: 
"Save yourself from this place. horrible. horrible.horrible. unprofessional worker with no medical background”.

This is an example of how I would respond to a real life negative review:

Excerpt from review: “I went to Dr B's office about 5 times over a 2 month period. I never saw Dr B until the 5th time and it was only for about 2 minutes.”

Example response: "Trish, while we can't comment on any specific case, we’re very sorry when someone doesn't get the one on one time with Dr. B that they were looking forward to. We truly believe in our whole team and their ability to provide excellent care, but when someone wants the opportunity to have a conversation with your physician, they certainly deserve it. Please send us a direct message and we can direct this conversation to the appropriate channels. Hope you had a great weekend- Dr. B’s office".

From my experience, it’s not terribly likely that Trish will take the practice up on their offer. Whether she does or not, the objective is that:
1.    The patient is acknowledged and valued.
2.    She may even revise her review to a higher rating. 
3.    The prospective patient sees that the practice will address her own concerns and take measures to ensure the satisfaction of her care.

Have you ever been able to resolve a negative review by responding?