People who comment about you on social media are looking to engage. They are sending out a message to vent their frustration, and because they are posting in a public forum, they give you the OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND!
If someone is unhappy with your practice, and privately complain to their friends, it is beyond your control. But when the complaint becomes an online comment, you can publicly address the concern. Responding in the correct way to a customer/patient complaint is a skill that can turn things around.
There is a way to turn a negative into a positive. You can use a negative review or comment about your business to show how you work to resolve issues. It can give you an opportunity to highlight your record of good customer service. Don’t react without thinking it through. You must provide a thoughtful, well-crafted response that works to your advantage.
1. Respond in a Timely Manner: A negative comment that sits out there without a response multiplies the effect, and may create an impression that you don’t care. Monitoring your social media accounts is an important daily task.
2. Acknowledge the complaint: Sometimes people just need to be heard. By acknowledging the complaint, you let them know that their comment has reached you, and that you are paying attention. Be sincere in your reply. “We are sorry that you were frustrated by the amount of time you had to wait to be seen. We know that your time is valuable.”
4. Highlight your positives: A negative post provides an opportunity to highlight your strengths. “We have been providing quality care in ___ for over ___ years, and are proud of our reputation of excellent service to our patients.”
5. Offer a Solution: Let the patient know that you are taking their comment seriously, and are working to solve the issue. “Although we can’t predict when a delay or emergency may occur, we are taking steps to notify patients of the wait time when an emergency occurs. We have a system in place that documents wait time, and are actively working to improve our work flow without jeopardizing quality care.”
6. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep! If you want to make the patient a special offer, make sure that it is reasonable and that it is addresses their concern. Special offers should be made privately, or you will have to offer the same to everyone. “We can schedule your next appointment so that you are the first patient of the day.”
7. Take it Off-Line: Don’t let the issue escalate publicly. Let the person know that you take their concern seriously, and want to talk about the issue further. You can ask them to “please e-mail me more info” or “We want to help you, can you send me a direct message, or call our office manager on her direct line: XXX-XXX-XXXX.” Or, you can ask them what is the best way to continue the conversation. “We’d like to discuss this issue with you further, and patient privacy is important to us. May we call or email you directly?”
8. Continue Posting: Don’t let a negative review interrupt your social media plan…or keep you from being online! Continue to maintain consistent posts with articles, offerings, educational materials, and customer reviews . If your online image continues to focus on the positive, the negatives will be outweighed by your helpful & informative social media strategy.
The moral of this social media story is to be aware of your online image. Use this public forum to communicate your message, and solidify your reputation. Although this blog focussed on responding to negative comments, your online reputation can be enhanced by replying to positive comments as well. Let people know that their voices are being heard, and you will be rewarded with patient loyalty.