Clients are always right, or at least they believe so, and there’s no arguing with that.
But it’s hard to hold back when they express their dissatisfaction online for the whole world to see.
Especially when you know, by fact, that they’re not necessarily right.
In the aesthetics industry, the practitioners have more medical knowledge than the majority of their clients, and most of the time they are the ones who are in the right.
But the question is, is this the right time to say that to your angry client?
That’s why many aesthetic clinic owners are afraid of receiving negative patient feedback publicly, and rightly so.
But… negative feedback isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it actually makes your clinic look even more credible. A study has found that 68% of people, trust online reviews more when they read both positive and negative feedback.
The best way to mitigate any potential damage caused by the negative feedback is to have a documented action plan in place. This way, you’ll be able to craft a thoughtful response that shows that your clinic cares and you’ll do what you can to fix the situation.
Why is patient feedback so crucial?
Having more reviews on your website and Google will help build trust and confidence between potential clients and your business. This, in turn, will ease their decision-making process and help you expand your client base.
Look at it from your perspective.
Think back to the last time you were planning a hotel stay or dining at a new restaurant.
What did you do first?
Chances are, you began by searching for reviews to ensure it was a worthwhile choice, didn’t you?
Reviews will also have a positive impact on your business growth, as you will gain insights into the work of your aesthetic clinic and have the chance to improve your services.
A notable advantage is the positive impact on SEO, particularly for local businesses. The more positive reviews you accumulate, the greater the likelihood that search engines will prominently feature your aesthetics clinic in relevant searches.
How to encourage more patients to leave feedback?
In today’s digital age where people can instantly share their experiences with a global audience online, it’s important to actively encourage clients to leave reviews.
If you’re facing challenges in inspiring clients to pen down their thoughts on their experience, here are a few effective ways that might help you:
- Ask your clients to leave a review right after their appointment
- Automate the review request process — send them an automated email or SMS after they check out from your clinic
- Add comment boxes at your clinic’s front desk
- Highlight the significance of reviews — tell them how it will help other clients to make the right decision
- Make writing the reviews as simple as possible — provide your clients the link where they should leave the review so they don’t need a lot of time to write the feedback
- Offer an incentive such as discounts and credits
- Send follow-ups on your review requests to clients who still haven’t left a review
Check out our blog on How to get patient feedback in your aesthetics clinic to find out more details. [link to Jana’s blog]
The psychology behind bad patient feedback
According to research, 23% of clients have confessed to posting negative reviews out of anger or a desire for retaliation.
Like it or not, it’s simply a common human tendency to share negative experiences more readily than positive ones.
So, despite your dedicated efforts in managing your clinic, the hard truth is that negative reviews can and will become a part of your online presence. In fact, as your business gains more visibility, the likelihood of encountering bad patient feedback increases.
How negative feedback impacts your aesthetics clinic
Negative reviews can significantly affect your business as they can lead to:
- Loss of potential clients — Research shows that 84% of individuals trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, an abundance of negative reviews may steer potential clients toward your competitors.
- Damage the brand reputation — Clients who leave 1-star reviews online share their negative experiences with a wide audience, which can result in diminished client loyalty and a loss of trust in the brand.
- Impacts search ranking — Search engines, such as Google, consider the quality and quantity of reviews as a ranking factor. Consequently, a business with a higher number of negative reviews than positive ones may experience a drop in search engine ranking, making it more challenging for potential clients to discover them online.
Look on the bright side: bad patient feedback can also be an opportunity to improve and grow your aesthetics clinic
If you handle the situation right, sometimes even a 1-star review is not at all bad — it only shows that your business is real.
All of us make mistakes, and your staff are no exception.
But what most people care about and will pay attention to is how you respond to it.
Do you try to protect your business and staff? Or do you side with the client and try to find a solution to their problem?
Receiving bad patient feedback doesn’t mean your aesthetics clinic is set for failure, it only means that there’s more room for improvement.
Take into consideration everything the person who posted the review had to say about their experience and try to work on it so you don’t make the same mistakes in the future.
Why responding to negative feedback is important?
Responding to negative reviews offers a range of benefits:
- It shows that you care for your clients — Clients seek validation and acknowledgment of their experiences, and by addressing their negative feedback, a company conveys a commitment to taking their concerns seriously.
- Helps control the damage negative reviews can cause — By acknowledging the client’s concerns and extending an apology for any adverse experience, a business can showcase its dedication to client satisfaction. This, in turn, can minimize the impact of a negative review and potentially transform a dissatisfied client into a loyal one.
- It helps to elevate standards for staff and services — Negative reviews often pinpoint areas where improvement is needed. By attentively listening to client feedback and addressing the raised issues, you can proactively enhance the overall client experience in your aesthetics clinic.
- It helps with compliance — Taking action after you receive negative feedback can greatly contribute to the success of your business. Change an operations process, provide training to practitioners following a negative review, and ensure that patients won’t have the same negative experience.
Establishing a well-documented policy or procedure for managing bad patient feedback is invaluable in such circumstances.
Moreover, designating a dedicated individual to address negative reviews is a significant advantage. They can ensure consistent handling of complaints and demonstrate and be mindful of HIPAA regulations.
How to respond to bad patient feedback: Step-by-step guide for aesthetics clinic
If you work in a big clinic, it’s always a good thing to have one designated person who will be handling the feedback you receive from your clients, whether they are positive or negative.
Having an experienced person in this role reduces the potential for errors and increases the opportunities for enhancing client relationships.
What to do when you receive bad patient feedback?
Pause and Cool Off: Before taking any action, give yourself time to cool off. Step away from your computer and try to distance yourself from the content of the review.
Don’t forget — you should maintain privacy at all times: In accordance with HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which safeguards patients’ health information, ensure that your response to reviews doesn’t disclose specific medical details or patient identities that could be considered “patient data.”
Thoughtful Response: Approach the situation with a clear mind. This will help you make the right decision and help you craft a response that will SAVE, not PROTECT your business.
Once your emotions are in check, it’s time to get back to your computer and start thinking about what your response will look like.
Step 1: Respond promptly but not too fast
53% of clients expect businesses to write a response to negative feedback within a week. 1 in 3, though, expect to receive a response in three days or less.
That’s why you shouldn’t rush yourself to respond the second you receive the bad review.
It’s important to recognize that, when faced with a bad patient review, both you and the reviewer may be upset.
Responding too quickly could potentially escalate the situation, leading to an ‘online battle.’
So, by not responding right away, you not only have more time to craft a polite response that will sit well with the client, but you also give them time to cool off too.
Step 2: Read carefully the negative review and investigate
Research is important in every aspect of a business, and this also applies when it comes to responding to bad patient feedback.
So before you start writing a response, doing thorough research on why the negative review occurred in the first place is crucial.
You should ask yourself and find out:
- What did the client write in the review?
- What actually happened – talk to the practitioner they saw.
- Has anyone from the staff already contacted them?
- When did the client visit your clinic?
Once you figure out the root cause of the negative feedback, you are ready to jump to the next step.
Step 3: Personalize the response
Don’t just copy and paste the responses you previously wrote to others, as this will paint a picture that you don’t care about the experience your client had in your clinic.
Your clients want to be heard individually, and they expect personalized attention, so craft a unique response for every negative feedback you receive.
Also, avoid using terms like “dear patient” or “dear client” when addressing the person who left the review.
These terms come across as overly generic and impersonal, so try to use their initials or full names if they are publicly available.
Trust us — addressing them by name will make them feel valued!
❌ DON’T ❌
It’s unfortunate that you’ve had this experience. Our clinic is committed to keeping clients informed and providing the best patient experience.”
✅ DO ✅
We are sorry to hear that you weren’t satisfied with the treatment you received. We always use high-end products for all of our services, and we are disappointed that we didn’t meet your expectations on this occasion.”
Step 4: Acknowledge the client and take responsibility
Even if your clinic isn’t at fault, this is the time to lose the ego and add your empathy.
It’s important to acknowledge the experience your client had and apologize for it.
An apology won’t be meaningful only to the person who left the review, but will also show to others who read your clinic’s reviews that you care for your patients.
In fact, demonstrating sincere empathy in a business apology following a setback can lead to a substantial 74% increase in client satisfaction.
Another thing that’s important is to avoid making excuses.
Whether the unfortunate situation was uncommon for your clinic, a one-time occurrence, or just an off day, simply acknowledge the client’s experience and try to empathize with them.
Try to avoid canned responses that sound insincere — the non-apology — “I’m sorry you feel that way. It’s not you, it’s me.”
However, don’t forget to also mention something positive about your clinic in your response, and reassure them that your staff always upholds high standards when working with patients.
“What you wrote in this review doesn’t sound like something our clinic and staff will do. Until now, no patient has ever complained about a treatment or experience they had in our clinic, so please don’t share false information.”
✅ DO ✅
“We are so sorry to hear this. Our clinic is known for its exceptional attention to detail, and we deeply regret falling short of your expectations. We always strive to provide exceptional experiences, and we’re genuinely disappointed that we didn’t meet your needs.
Your feedback is invaluable to us, and we’re committed to using it to improve and prevent such issues in the future.”
Step 5: Ask for a second chance and offer a solution
Don’t close the door to people who left negative feedback about your clinic. Instead, welcome them back with open hands.
Ask them to give you another chance and encourage them to come back to your clinic to “make things right.”
Offer them a solution to their problem — suggest they come to another appointment where you could rectify the perceived error. So for example, if they had anti-wrinkle injections offer them a corrective treatment.
However, if the situation is out of your control and the issue simply can’t be resolved, don’t make false promises, and instead offer them compensation if necessary.
❌ DON’T ❌
“We worked really hard to give you the best possible treatment and you were still dissatisfied. Please never come to our clinic again.”
✅ DO ✅
“We are very sorry we failed to meet your expectations. We would appreciate it if you gave us another chance to earn your trust. Please get in touch with our team and book another complementary treatment with us and we believe we can make things right.”
Step 6: Take the issue offline and ask for more feedback
Breaking through to patients in an online setting can sometimes be challenging. They are probably upset, and even if you respond empathetically, they might still react defensively.
Instead, express your desire to address their concerns privately and suggest they contact you to give more detailed feedback on the situation and find a solution that works best for both of you.
This not only safeguards your reputation from further public scrutiny but also eliminates external interference.
❌ DON’T ❌
“Please give us more detailed feedback on your situation, otherwise, we won’t be able to help you.”
✅ DO ✅
“We would like the opportunity to investigate your feedback further. Due to privacy regulations, we can’t discuss any specifics about your experience here, but if you’d like, please contact me via email or call me so we can work with you to resolve any issues that arose during your visit?”
Step 7: Close your response with a “thank you”
You might wonder why express gratitude to a patient who might’ve potentially harmed your business with their negative review. But you must remember that other people are reading the reviews too, and you would want to show them that you appreciate honesty.
Client feedback can also help you prevent more issues from happening in the future, so the smart thing is to thank the reviewer for helping you improve the operations in your clinic.
Remember, the conclusion of your response holds as much importance as the rest of it.
❌ DON’T ❌
“Have a nice day.”
✅ DO ✅
“Thanks again for taking the time to bring this issue to our attention. Your feedback is invaluable to us as it helps us do better in the future. We truly appreciate it and look forward to hearing from you.
Yours [Clinic Name]”
How not to write a response to bad patient feedback
How to write a response to bad patient feedback that is also HIPAA compliant
How a practice management software can help you manage reviews
A robust practice management software system streamlines the review management process. It automatically builds requesting reviews into the booking process. After a client has had an appointment the system prompts them to leave a review – and it also sends reminders to those who haven’t provided feedback after some time.
You’ll receive the reviews clients leave directly into the software, which is great because you won’t miss any client reviews.
But always bear in mind that a single negative review has the power to disrupt all your clinic’s operations and, in the worst-case scenario, leave your clinic empty.
With Pabau, though, you won’t have that problem.
If you use the Pabau practice management software in your aesthetics clinic you can choose which reviews you want to publish online and which reviews you want to keep only to yourself.
Pabau’s advanced marketing features not only allow you to showcase your social proof online on your own terms, but it can also direct people to publish their reviews on Google. This will help you boost your business’ presence on Google and increase your online visibility.
Keep it professional: the key to handling bad patient feedback.
Receiving negative reviews isn’t cause for celebration, for sure. They can deter potential clients, harm your reputation, and affect search rankings.
However, they are not all that bad, as they can also help you improve your clinic’s operations.
Responding to negative reviews can ease the damage they can cause as you show that you care for your clients’ satisfaction.
But remember, always respond to reviews like everyone’s watching, because people probably do. Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want to go public, or even viral. Every communication from your business represents your business, so be mindful of that.
Also, when crafting the responses, don’t forget to ensure you are following HIPAA regulations and keep your patient data confidential at all times.
The right way to do it?
Don’t take more than 3 days to respond, personalize your replies, offer solutions, and express gratitude for their feedback.
To manage reviews efficiently, consider a practice management software like Pabau which will automate the review requests and help you selectively publish the reviews you receive.