Doctors Reply Poorly Too

We’re back with another misadventure in “How NOT to respond to a negative review”. This time, a doctor is faced with a seriously frustrated patient and throws a fit. 

Here’s why the doctor’s response is no bueno:

The doctor doesn’t seem to know about HIPAA: The reviewer remains anonymous perhaps as a way to act rude and not be held accountable or face any retribution. It’s not fair. But any medical professional should be well versed with the confidentiality and privacy laws surrounding patient medical information (in the US it’s known as HIPAA). Although the reviewer is the one who willingly discloses some details of his or her medical information. the doctor should have acted in the patient’s best interest and attached contact information to immediately take the conversation offline rather than insult back (“childish and abhorrent”) and maybe prod the patient to reveal more information.

There’s no room for a conversation: Even though the reviewer comes off as intense, they appear to bring up some legitimate frustrations. They certainly aren’t being a “cyber bully” as the doctor puts it. Medical facilities, no matter the size or scope of practice, are often very complex and may have strict policies that can be frustrating but necessary to keep things organized. Following treatment plans can also seem needlessly tedious if left unexplained as well. The doctor closes the door on an opportunity to clearly explain the policies and treatment plan that may have been the source of frustration in the first place, both by responding unprofessionally and by failing to post contact information to further the discussion offline.

The doctor goes on an ego trip: While it’s certainly tough to hear criticism, it inevitably happens to the best in the business. Instead of responding professionally, this doctor chooses defensive and demeaning language to try to belittle the reviewer. The finishing line is a dead giveaway that this doctor is simply carrying an inflated head on his/her shoulders. In situations like these, it’s always best to stay humble, make an apology, and keep it professional.

Though the reviewer makes churlish remarks, the doctor’s poor response seems to validate the reviewer’s accusations. If this doctor had responded politely and offered to address the frustrations privately, it’s possible the reviewer would have edited or taken down this review or at least let potential patients see the doctor is in fact professional.

For more in this series of “How NOT to reply to a negative review”, check out:

Drunk, shoeless reviewers (How NOT to respond to negative reviews)

Handling negative reviews with tact and professionalism is an effective way to show that you care about customer feedback and have great customer service. But sometimes owner responses can lack… um… “thoughtfulness” and make matters worse. In this series – “How NOT to respond to negative reviews” – we look at some choice replies and walk you through how to deal with difficult reviews.

The Case of the Drunk, Shoeless Reviewer

Let’s breakdown this review and point out what the business could have done better so that you don’t make the same mistake.

What Not to Do

  • Don’t use poor grammar and misspell. “Unrealised”? Using poor grammar and misspelling words can make your company look mismanaged and careless. Taking the time to make sure your statement is free of errors is a simple thing you can do to appear professional.
  • Don’t name call or insult the reviewer. No matter how bad the situation, you should never insult a customer, i.e. call him or her a “drunk liar”. Not only could it further aggravate the reviewer and prompt him to take further action, but it makes you look bad to others reading the review.
  • Don’t accuse. Along the lines of name-calling, once you accuse you have entered a dangerous territory. You can state the facts: “You lost your shoes but then you found them”. But attacking someone’s character or intentions may provoke a reaction or raise concerns about your professionalism.

What to Do

  • Respond quickly but not haphazardly. Responding to negative feedback quickly is essential, but only if your response is well thought out and appropriate. Sometimes “haste makes waste”, so taking a few minutes to calm down will give you the time you need to craft a polite and concise response.
  • Be polite, even when you’re right. If you are not at fault, simply state the facts. You have the right to let the truth be known, but you need to be diplomatic and not give the reviewer a reason to keep the fight going, which leads to the next point…
  • Go offline. As you know, some people love to take their frustrations out online. As a business, you don’t want to fuel that fire. Taking the conversation offline by giving the reviewer a way to contact you directly allows you to end the online discussion organically.

Unfortunately, some people may not want a solution; they just want to complain and maybe get a reaction. When you have a negative review such as this, you still need to remain calm and not get into a blame game. Showing patience, insight, and sincerity is good business practice, if not to appeal to the reviewer but to demonstrate to prospective customers that you are a professional organization.

If you’d like more information, check out the comprehensive, step-by-step guide for responding negative reviews.