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A reported 72%of people refer to and trust online reviews as a
form of personal recommendation; and, if your online recommendations
aren’t glowing, you may be in trouble. While there isn’t a magic fix-all
to make you immune to negative publicity, ignoring online rants could
eventually impact your reputation, potentially limiting your pool of
What is Local Search Marketing?
Local search marketing: The online marketing strategy that
incorporates your geographical location along with the services you offer.
The goal of local search marketing is to improve your search ranking when
prospective patients search for your services along with a geolocator.
New York + Plastic Surgeon = New York Plastic Surgeon
geolocator your services local search query
Online reviews greatly impact your reputation and local search marketing efforts. Whether you’ve
hired a pro to market your practice, or you’re doing it solo, knowing how to prevent and respond to
negative reviews can help your practice maintain a strong, positive online reputation.
Where do I Start?
Your patients may already be discussing your services online. That’s
right; with hundreds of online reviews sites, patients have numerous
outlets to share their experiences. So, what are patients saying about
your practice? Find out by scanning these popular review sites:
If you have not already claimed and verified your business listings on each of these review sites,
doing so is critical. Verifying ownership will allow you to edit, respond to, and possibly remove
Create your free account to manage
Input your practice name and city
into the top search bars.
You must first register your
business to search for any existing
You must be logged into your
Google+ account to search for your
Preventing Negative Online Reviews
There are a number of ways you can prevent your patients’ frustrations from
ever reaching a public forum. Taking proactive measures can help you avoid
negative publicity and can improve your patients’ satisfaction.
Prevention efforts start in your practice with each patient’s visit. Beginning
with excellent customer service and ending with genuine concern for the
patient’s well-being can help you avoid a tarnished image online.
If you notice that a patient is frustrated during or after their visit, inquire
about their dissatisfaction so that you may right the wrong before they leave
your office. Having a service-oriented approach makes disgruntled patients
more willing to “forgive and forget.”
Set up open communication, and be the first point of contact. Building
rapport with your patients enables them to feel more comfortable
expressing their concerns, so you and your staff can remedy the issue
Follow-up with your patients after their visit by sending them a short online
survey or giving them a quick phone call to ensure their experience was
pleasant. Promptly following-up within a day allows them to express any
frustrations before turning to avenues online.
Make a feedback form readily available in office or on your website. This
way, you can be the buffer between online forums and patient frustrations.
Making it easy for your patients to provide direct feedback will allow you to
fix a potential problem and avoid negative publicity.
Be active on social networks. Studies show that when you regularly post
updates on your social profiles, patients are less likely to leave negative
comments online. Because most people fear confrontation, patients are less
likely to post negative feedback when they believe you’ll respond.
Monitoring Online Reviews
How do you know when negative reviews are posted about your practice?
And where do you find out? Easy. Start by signing up for alerts that can help
you monitor what others are saying about your practice on various social
channels. Free services such as HootSuite and Google Alerts allow you to
monitor searches and social mentions that include your name and/or your
• Gives you the ability to monitor mentions,
messages, and tags across 5 different social
networks – for free.
• Allows you to schedule posts and have them
automatically upload on your networks at a
future date and time.
• Updates you in real time as other users
comment on or reference your practice on
social networking sites.
Google Alerts features:
• Notifies you every time a user searches for any term you flag, such as
your name, practice name, or services.
• You can specify the frequency of these updates, as well as the types of
search results users are looking for (e.g. news updates, general search,
blog posts, etc.).
• You will also need to input the
email address you would like
Google Alerts sent to.
What If I Have
Negative Online Reviews?
Don’t panic! While one or two negative reviews may seem like the end of the
world, there are ways to recover.
Responding to Negative Reviews
When you notice the negative review, first respond in a private manner.
Whether you call the patient who posted it or send them an email, get to
the root of the problem without a public quarrel. In most cases, when
the matter is resolved, patients are extremely likely to edit their review,
mentioning your effort to make it right.
If you determine that you cannot respond to the review in a private manner,
offer a brief public apology on the review site and offer to remedy the issue.
Whether or not the patient responds isn’t as important as you showing other
prospects that you genuinely care about your patients’ opinions.
Check the review site’s terms and conditions. Each site has their own
stipulations regarding the removal of reviews. Some allow you to “Flag [the
review] as Inappropriate” and provide a brief explanation about why the
review should be removed. A few viable reasons include: fraudulent reviews,
use of profanity, and blatant mistellings of what actually happened.
Responding to Negative Reviews
In most cases, review sites will only allow you to respond or edit the review.
Very few will delete it; however, you can decrease the impact of a negative
review by acquiring new, positive reviews. As you gain these new reviews,
the older, negative ones will be forced further down your profile, making
them less visible and less impactful.
Responding to Negative Reviews
Along with acquiring positive reviews, you can also increase your amount of online channels, to
help shine a positive light on your practice. What this essentially means is the more online activity
your practice has, the more opportunity you have to quiet your online reviews. Constructive online
activity will attract positive attention from search engines, helping your most recent activities
appear higher in search results than your older, negative review(s). Some online “channels” you can
• Starting a Facebook page or Twitter account and posting regularly.
• Participating in a community activity and publishing an online press release about your
• Starting a practice blog and consistently writing relevant articles.
Responding to Negative Reviews
When to Immediately
Respond to a Bad Review
Generally, it’s best to solve a customer’s online rant in a private manner, but
there are circumstances where a prompt response is warranted. Keep in
mind; it is important to remain calm and respectful when responding to an
online review, as your response will forever be associated with your practice.
• If a patient is misstating facts – Politely negate their outlandish claims
and offer a solution to their issue.
• You’re experiencing the “me toos” – If numerous reviews are reporting
the same problem with your services, address it ASAP. If a number of
patients have the same issue, believability increases, and you don’t want
these complaints to tarnish your image. In your response, communicate
the changes your practice is implementing to prevent issues in the future.
Doing so demonstrates that you are listening and responding to patient-
feedback to improve their satisfaction.
• The offensive nature of the review is transparent – If those not affected
by your practice’s success (patients, friends, etc.) consider the review
insulting, a (polite!) response is definitely justified.
Situations that Necessitate Immediate Response:
Aside from remaining cool, calm, and collected when you discover criticism
of your services, remember there is always a take-away. When you come
across a legitimate review of your practice that highlights a weakness, view
it as an opportunity to improve. If a patient mentions a negative experience
with the attitude of your office staff, get it under wraps. Or, if patients say
you’re too forceful in trying to upsell your services, present the upsell
more subtly. You can learn from every review to prevent problems from
perpetuating in the future.
When managing your online reputation, it’s important to remember that no
one is perfect, and it’s okay to have a bad day. Just understand that one bad
day could lead to a bad reputation, so it is important to monitor your online
reputation to maintain its excellence.
Marketing Your Practice Online
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new patients through professional website design and Internet marketing services.
Want to learn more? Talk to an online marketing expert about your website needs, and
they’ll help you decide what you need to get started. Call us at (888) 932-3644.