Article Date: 5/1/2011

Keep Your Internet Review Site Sanity
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Keep Your Internet Review Site Sanity

When your practice receives a negative review, follow these two tips.

Gary Gerber, O.D.

In this age of instantaneous, wired news—that news, whether good or bad, travels fast. Hit a clinical home run by alleviating a patient's headaches with a great eyeglass prescription, and odds are that patient will text his family about it on his way home. Find a special frame for a patient's wedding, and you might wind up on their Facebook page. And of course, if a patient's custom toric RGPs take a day longer to arrive than promised, you run the risk of being berated on Yelp.

With the growing popularity of Internet feedback, it's becoming more common for practices to fear social media and examine ways to combat negative online reviews (e.g. engaging in verbal fisticuffs, ignoring bad “press,” etc.). However, this article isn't about how to handle reviews, it's about how to keep your Internet review site sanity.

1. Keep it in perspective

Seeing a bad review is certainly unsettling. However, we need to keep this in perspective. For every bad review—reasonably deserved or not—you should see at least 10 to 15 positive ones. If you don't, then the bad reviews are probably well deserved—especially if there is a consistent theme.

For instance, if 80% of patients complain that your eyeglass selection is too narrowly focused, it probably is. If 5% complain, it's probably not.

Of course, if complaints are consistent, you must fix the problem(s). As per the example above, you'd need to revisit your optical inventory.

However, when complaints are not consistent, but rather the ravings of a potential online madman, do not change your office policy. Do not bend over backward to satisfy those who practice outlying behavior. If you do, you run the risk of changing your core business model and alienating the bulk of your patients—those reasonable folks in the middle of your practice's bell curve who support you.

The Internet nuts and complainers are usually seen as just that by those who are not as emotionally invested in your practice as you are.

For example, consider your own reactions when looking online at a potential vacation destination. If 90% of the reviews are glowing and contain a memorable, blue ribbon experience, how much credibility would you put into a review that includes complaints about every aspect of the exact same resort? When nearly everyone thinks the rooms were spotless except Mr. Crazy, the odds are the rooms are clean and Mr. Crazy really is crazy.

Similarly, if you measure your eyeglass delivery time (if you don't, you should), and you discover that you customarily deliver glasses in four days, don't be derailed by a single online review that contains a complaint about a seven-day delivery. Instead, internally acknowledge what happened, address it as best you can, and move forward.

2. Stay on top of the sites

Assign a staff member to monitor the popular review sites. Instead of taking the obvious easy way out and blaming staff for bad reviews, congratulate them for positive ones. Share in successes as well as challenges, and find ways to bolster the former even further. Note the omission of certain aspects of positive reviews and fill in any holes. For example, if reviews continually focus on a positive contact lens fitting experience, realize that not mentioning eyeglasses signals a practice growth opportunity. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: May 2011