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A person is showing the online ratings an reviews on their phone while leaning over a wooden table
Kiss your bad online patient review goodbye

When handling a physiotherapy clinic, you usually focus on the customers. The clinic is there for their needs. And, in return, you and your staff are there to provide for them. That doesn’t mean that every patient will leave your establishment satisfied with your care. 

Unhappy customers usually show their disappointment online. See, even the best practices can get bad online patient reviews. Any establishment with good employees should know how to deal with them. 

In this article, you’ll be given the best ways to handle bad online patient reviews. But first, you need to know why you should.

Why Do You Need to Handle Bad Reviews?

there are 5 yellow stars placed diagonally over a blue and pink background
You shouldn’t just focus on the 5-star reviews

You might have the best staff and facilities. But, to be the best physiotherapy clinic in your area, you need customers. In this case, you need clients who think highly of you and your services. 

You think that the bulk of your customers come from referrals. In some cases, yes. But nowadays, you’ll come across new faces that have only heard about your practice online. A good chunk of promising customers, 98% of them, say that online reviews are an “essential resource”.

A good or bad review can make your break a business. And, of course, a clinic is still a business. For you to get more patients, keep the ones you have, and ultimately increase the revenue of your clinic, you need good reviews. It means you also need to know how to handle the bad ones.

Ways on How To Deal With Bad Online Patient Reviews

1. Make Your Review Structure

A typewriter in on a table, typing out the word review on a piece of paper
Having your own review system is the first step

Your clients can’t give you a proper review when they don’t have the means to do so. Meaning, your clinic needs its system for reviews. It could start first as a paper-and-pen situation right on the premises. If you want to be fancy, you can use a digital form.

To get the ball rolling, so to speak, consider the following steps: 

  • Monitor all the current and future patient reviews using a spreadsheet
  • Update the review spreadsheet as often as possible for improvements 
  • Create your in-house survey for your patients to use after each visit
  • Give the patient the survey with the name of their therapist
  • Assign the office administrator or manager the task of giving out the survey to every patient
  • Make sure the patients finish the survey on-site first before leaving
  • Encourage the client to give the clinic an online review when they give a good grade
  • Remember to email the patients their possible follow-ups with the links for online reviews

You’ll notice that the scores you get in-house are fair. It’s the online reviews you need to be wary about. Depending on your online presence, you can ask them to post on review sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and, most prominently, Google. These are where the negative reviews come to light.

2. Check if the Review Is Legitimate

A person is choosing the score they want to give for the service, choosing one out of five faces showing various expressions from sad to happy
Is that one bad online patient review even real?

Read the supposed bad review carefully. What are they talking about? Are they perhaps talking about something else instead of their experience? 

Factors such as traffic, weather, and location do play a part in the client’s perspective. Please note that these determinants are none of your concerns. It’s not your practice’s fault. The patients could even end up reviewing another place entirely in that review.

Worst case scenario: It’s a fake review. It could be as simple as a spam review, which you could easily deal with. On the other hand, that negative review could likely be the sabotaging kind as well. If that’s the case, you can have the review removed. 

For the removal request, you should have evidence that the review is invalid. Apart from that, expect that this process can take a while. Be aware that it could still have an impact on your sales.

3. Acknowledge Their Review

A laptop is open, showing the various feedback and bad online patient reviews you can get with a person looking through them
Open your site and still thank that bad online patient review

Don’t ever ignore a negative review on any of your sites. Keep in mind that whatever the bad review is about, it still took time out of the client’s day. They made an effort to say something about their personal experience. 

You might as well show your appreciation for their feedback. A simple thank you allows you to freely talk about the contents of the review. You lead the conversation on the brighter side, with their end and yours. 

It’s easy to be a bit defensive towards the commenter. When you thank them off the bat, you then can start to empathize with them. If you were in their predicament, what would you feel? How would you react? For sure, you would expect some form of apology. You can provide that for them, to put their minds at ease.

4. Reply To Everything Fast and Sweet

A physiotherapy clinic employee is looking through and replying to all online patient reviews while wearing glasses and a white top
Each reply to any bad online patient review should be short and fast

Typically, a response for a bad online patient review is needed within 24-48 hours. Though, it’s still best to respond as quickly as you can. You should reply to every bad online patient review. You shouldn’t ignore them. It’s better this way to avoid any more irate clients.

Another aspect of your reply is its length. One of the main hiccups you might make is giving out this paragraph-long response directed to the commenter. Longer replies make the proprietors look guilty, trying to defend their practice. 

As first replies go, maybe don’t overwhelm the commenter. Justifying what supposedly happened with the customer won’t help you or them. Address that it happened in your practice and that you’ll be happy to look over the concerns with them. Keep the conversation geared towards amending the poor experience they had. Be sincere.

5. Seize This Chance To Change

An open laptop showing the various feedback a physiotherapy clinic can have with floating faces and symbols beside it, while a hand is on the keys and a yellow background behind it
Not all bad online patient reviews are necessarily bad. . .

Don’t let one bad review get you down that easily. A bad online patient review could open a window of opportunity for your practice. In a way, you can foster a deeper and more meaningful relationship with this specific patient. It’s due to the service recovery paradox. 

A service recovery paradox happens when a business has successfully fixed a problem with a client. It plays with their expectation concerning how well you can recover after a bad review or performance. If it goes beyond their expectations and you resolve things, these customers will be more loyal than ever. 

You should know that you can’t have perfect reviews all the time. That could potentially lead you to disappointment in the long run. Instead, think of bad online patient reviews as a possible way for your clinic to make long-term customers. Considering that it began as a mistake, there’s no way to go but up.

6. Talk to the Patient Privately

A physiotherapy clinic employee is talking privately to a patient online while wearing a white turtleneck and a smile on her face
Directly talking to the patient makes a world of diffference

Every negative comment that comes up in your reviews does reflect poorly on your business. That’s why it’s a good idea to take the patient’s problem offline. You, as the proprietor, need to talk to the client privately. 

Talking to the patient in this way shows how much you care about their situation. You can deal with their issue firsthand. Plus, it won’t give other people more opportunities to pile on it. Instead, you can save your clinic some trouble and stop the situation from escalating.

Having a personal work email and phone number comes in handy here. You can give it out as a reply to their review. Along with an apology, ask them to contact you. This way, you can specify that you will closely work with them to resolve any of their issues yourself.

7. Rectify the Situation With the Client

a physiotherapy clinic employee is talking to two of their clients while behind a desk
Make amends with your clients, no matter how small

Now that you can speak to your client one-on-one, you can focus on their problem. Reassure them that you are focused on solving their dilemma. Of course, apologizing is essential as well. Though, it’s only the first step.

Making things right with the client gives you two perspectives. The first is by replying to the review publicly. Replying to the public review shows how much you care about the situation. It gives off this sense of personal accountability, which is usually very well-received. 

The second is by replying to the client privately. On the other hand, replying to the original poster privately demonstrates the integrity of the clinic as a whole.  

After evaluating the situation, you can tell them why they experienced such a thing. Not as an excuse, but as a mutual understanding of the situation. Together, you can figure out how to remedy the situation moving forward.

8. Replace With Good Reviews

a person is choosing the highest score available from a total of three, wearing a pink shirt
Good reviews make the bad online patient reviews look not so bad

The first step alone, “make your review structure”, practically encourages your customers to give you good reviews. It sets the tone and your overall grade. The more you ask for reviews, the more it looks like you and your staff want to improve. 

The good thing about this way is that more good reviews can push the focus away from the bad ones. Imagine a site with only one bad review and 30-50 good reviews. This possible ratio of reviews will end up being 4+ out of 5 stars. 

Due to negativity bias, people, in general, would direct their attention to the bad online patient reviews first. Counteract all the negativity with more positivity. The more, the merrier.

9. Provide a Satisfaction Guarantee

A physiotherapist is showing two potential clients the paperwork for their service which includes a satisfaction guarantee
Guaranteeing your service reflects more about your business than you think

Show your clients how much faith you have in your services by enacting a satisfaction guarantee clause. A guarantee like this indicates that they’ll get the best care possible. Otherwise, they can get their money back. 

You can specify which services can apply for this. It could be under any or all physiotherapy and massage therapy services. There could be a provision in your pamphlets and other written materials about it. It could be along the lines of, “If you’re not satisfied with any of our physiotherapy services, get your money back guarantee.”

As another option, another service, like their next visit or a massage, could be given instead. Free of charge, of course. When you do provide excellent services, this clause won’t interfere with anything. But, it does let your customers know how much faith you have in your staff’s capabilities.

10. Forget About It and Move On

A physiotherapist is closing their laptop for the day on the wooden table while wearing a grey shirt and having a cup of coffee
When all is said and done, and you can’t resolve it, then forget about it

If all else fails, maybe it’s time to let it go. You could do all the other steps. Your services may be impeccable. You could’ve resolved any issue the customer has had concerning the clinic. But, ultimately, you can’t please everyone. 

Don’t take the harsh criticism personally. None of the bad online patient reviews truly reflect on you and your employees. Get all the necessary information from those reviews to improve your practice instead. Find usable tips for your next training sessions.

In Conclusion

Bad online patient reviews aren’t the end of the world for your physiotherapy clinic. Handling them is still a crucial part of a business’s customer service. They mix in with the good reviews, lowering your overall rating online.

As an established clinic, you should have your in-house rating system in place. After your customers do their ratings, you can direct them to your online sites. When they give a bad online patient review, do check if their reasons are about your services.

If they are, acknowledge them fast. Reply to everything sincerely and concisely. Take this chance to right your clinic’s wrongs. Talk with the client privately and discuss how you can rectify their predicament. 

While doing so, encourage more good reviews from your other clients. Maybe even add a satisfaction guarantee with any or all of your services. Although, if things can’t be resolved, it shouldn’t weigh down on your business. It’s still a good opportunity to improve.

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