Oh, the dreaded negative online review. People love to write them, and urgent care centers are not immune to receiving them. If they engender a feeling of Hulk-like rage, you’re not alone. But before you start smashing your keyboard with an angry retort, try to follow these five steps to turn the experience around – for you and the patient.

  1. Evaluate the Merits of the Review – and Be Honest
    It’s tempting to get defensive when someone leaves a negative review for your urgent care center, but take a deep breath and approach the situation with objectivity and compassion. After all, no one’s perfect. Maybe your physician really did say something she shouldn’t have. Or maybe the patient was having a bad day, and a compassionate response could turn his negative review into a positive one. Whatever the situation, try to evaluate the negative review as objectively as possible.
  2. Use the Negative Review as an Opportunity…
    You may not feel all that grateful to receive a negative review, but it’s really an opportunity to improve the services your urgent care center provides. Think of it this way: if you don’t know anything is wrong, you can’t fix it. The reviewer actually did you a favor by letting you know there’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
  3. …But Know When to Draw the Line
    Legitimate complaints are OK; welcome, even. But reviewers don’t have carte blanche to say anything they want. Discrimination and false statements about your facility or your staff that could be deemed defamatory should never be allowed. If the review appears on your website or social media profile, notify the reviewer that discriminatory or defamatory comments are not allowed on your site before deleting the review. Be prepared to block the individual if this action further enflames them. If the review appears on a third party website, review that website’s posting guidelines to see what types of reviews that site will delete. If the content of the review doesn’t follow that community’s guidelines, contact the site to have the review removed.
  4. Take the Conversation Offline
    Handling negative reviews in the healthcare setting can be tricky because you absolutely cannot violate HIPAA in the process. This means you cannot even confirm the reviewer is a patient at your facility in your response to the review. Acknowledge the reviewer’s complaint but take the conversation offline. Express your willingness to discuss the matter with them but emphasize the need to comply with the law. Once you are able to connect with the reviewer offline, follow your normal complaint procedure. Don’t have one? It’s time to create one!
  5. Recognize When it’s Time to Walk Away
    Some people will simply refuse to work with you to resolve their complaints. You’ll know who these people are because they will ignore or refuse your requests to take the conversation offline and will continue to post complaints. You’ll be tempted to delete their comments, but resist that urge unless they are discriminatory or defamatory. Deleting their comments will probably only encourage them to keep posting their complaints. Plus, you want other people to see that your staff is willing to work with patients to resolve any complaints they might have. Most people can recognize a troll when they see one.

Criticism is always tough to hear, especially in the online world where people don’t feel the need to be constructive with their feedback. Just remember that most negative reviews are opportunities to make the services you provide at your urgent care center more competitive. It’s up to you to turn them around.