The reality is bad reviews happen. Today’s high-tech world guarantees a seamless outlet for clients to provide their feedback and not every one is going to agree with your approach. That is life. Experts suggest the best thing you can do when faced with the dreaded one-star review is to avoid turning a blind eye, address the complaint and harness the opportunity to make improvements to your business process.

Some may slough off a poor online review and not give it much merit. However, it is a serious matter and can certainly be a risk to any business, even more so in the healthcare industry. We all rely on our peers for advice and, no matter what advertising strategy may be in place, word-of-mouth still reigns.

Take a Deep Breath

And, while the thought of one poor online review tarnishing your well-developed professional reputation may be gut-wrenching, the best thing you can do is put your best foot forward.

But what does that mean exactly? This can be a touchy subject, especially if you are not comfortable online to begin with. Here are a few tips from the experts to guide you through what may be uncharted waters:

Take a moment to digest. What has the customer really said to you? Poor reviews can often feel very personal and the last thing you want to do is rush to reply and respond with emotion. Do your best to understand the situation from the customer’s perspective.

Evaluate the validity of the complaint. Has this issue ever come up before? Could the situation have been avoided? And, is there any action the practice could take to prevent this from reoccurring?

Don’t be defensive. The last thing an unhappy client wants to here are all the reasons why they had they experience they did. Do not try to justify anything.

Be sure to follow through. Whether you pursue connecting with the author of the review privately or respond in an open forum, be sure to follow through with any action items you may suggest.

Focus on addressing the issue. In many cases the customer just wants to feel heard. So, focus on acknowledging what has been said and try to rectify the situation with fairness.

A negative review can certainly be downer but experts say it’s not all bad news. These situations can also provide an immense opportunity to demonstrate your practice’s commitment to client engagement and offer a chance to make business improvements that are directly impacting your clients.

“An important thing to remember when dealing with negative reviews is to be proactive. This is your opportunity to demonstrate that your business is properly run and deals with problems quickly and fairly,” said Matt Earle, president of, a Toronto-based digital public relations company geared towards helping people and businesses improve their online reputation. “Always respond in a highly empathetic way that addresses the substance of the complaint and shows a fair and generous response to their complaint.”

Seize the Opportunity

If you have never had to deal with a negative online review, you should still consider how to best position yourself before it happens. In this scenario, the old adage, ‘the best defense is a good offense,’ rings true.

A good starting point is to gather a few spots clients may be posting about your practice that you can monitor regularly. A simple Google search of your name or company name can pull up local discussion boards or mentions on sites such as,, or Facebook, the Yellow Pages and Google itself also provide the opportunity for user to leave a review about your business.

“We do have a couple of staff members that monitor this at our practice,” said Dr. Ian Beaumont, practicing optometrist at FYidoctors in Brandon, Manitoba. “We just want to be aware of any major deficiencies that people may be posting about us. I don’t mind the online review system. It obviously has limitations just like any system, but it can be used as a self evaluation tool to better yourself.”

Aim to hold an active presence online, whether it may be with a company website, blog or social media posts. Then take it a step further and encourage all of your customers towards providing their feedback online. More often than not, patient reviews are going to be exceedingly positive, but of course the negative ones always seem more prominent. Think about balancing that equation and painting a more accurate picture of your practice by motivating clients to comment, like or provide a review.

Don’t forget, thank everyone who takes the time to provide feedback, no matter the intention. These reviews provide valuable insight from the patients’ point-of-view about what areas of your business are working well and where improvements can be made. All feedback, including that rotten review, has the capacity of improving your practice if handled correctly.



Jennifer Paige Golletz is a freelance writer and journalist based in Toronto, Ontario. She graduated with honours from the print journalism program at Lethbridge College in Alberta and has been actively writing for a number of publications for the past five years.


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Proper online reputation management is key to protecting your practice’s image and attracting new customers. A huge part of online reputation management is not only about obtaining good reviews, but it’s also about actively monitoring and managing unsolicited reviews. Thankfully, there are effective strategies your practice can utilize in order to ensure when people go looking for information about your business online, they’re going to like what they read.

The Importance of Your Online Reputation

Reviews are an essential element of online reputation management and can have a huge influence on your bottom line. They serve as online promotions to boost your business; the flip side is enough poor reviews and your practice may suffer the consequences.

There’s plenty of data to support the notion that people not only look for online reviews before doing business with a company or brand, but also trust these reviews. In fact, Nielsen reports1 that 66 percent of people trust online opinions and reviews from other consumers. Another report by BrightLocal2 found that 80 percent of people trust online reviews just as much as they trust a recommendation from a personal contact. In other words, your reputation is always at stake online, and people’s opinions carry serious weight.

Monitoring Is Key

One of the most important areas of online reputation management is proper monitoring of your practice across channels, whether it’s Yelp reviews, Facebook posts, or Twitter comments. At the same time, it’s also important to keep your eye on the niche sites that relate to your industry or community, such as specialist websites that offer reviews on local doctors, forums where customers may be discussing a retailer’s products, or even the comments section of a local newspaper.

In short, your online reputation extends beyond the typical social media channels, and you need to understand where these potential conversations might be taking place.

A Note About  One of the most popular sites Canadian patients use for rating and reviewing is, which allows patients to leave anonymous reviews of practitioners. The site gives eye care practitioners the ability to “claim” their page, which comes with a verified check mark and benefits such as posting images and responding to the anonymous reviews. In addition, for a monthly fee of $179 US you are able to “promote” your practice, increase visibility to patients searching for practices in your area and prevent competitors’ ads from appearing on your page.


With the “Promoted Plus” fee of $359 US per month, you receive the ability to hide up to 3 suspicious reviews. Some Canadian doctors have been critical of the website’s practices1, but it continues to be one of the first Google search results patients will see when seeking information about their doctor.



Unfortunately, it’s not only difficult to find all of the conversations surrounding your business online, but it’s also extremely time consuming. That’s why it’s important to work with an online reputation management specialist. The right specialist can use software to track all conversations, analyze trends, and pinpoint or flag reviews that are unfair to your business.

How to Properly Manage Reviews

At the same time, it’s important to actively manage unsolicited reviews. While these reviews might be perfectly positive, others might really attack your business. Here are some ways to handle a negative customer review:

  • Speak with the administrators of the review website. For example, if you can provide proof a rival business actually left the review, the website will generally remove it as this practice is against the reviewing policy of many websites.
  • Address the review publicly, and build a solid argument that refutes the reviewer’s comments.
  • Try to message the reviewer privately and solve their problem. Many negative reviews are simple misunderstandings. Once those are cleared up, reviews can be updated to better describe the full interaction.
  • Use an online reputation management service which can help you develop strategies for dealing with negative reviews, promote your website through search engine optimization (SEO) to conceal bad reviews, and work with you to show your business in a positive light.

How Online Reputation Management Helps With Good Reviews

There are a number of strategies for generating good reviews. Of course, every good review starts with excellent customer service and a commitment to the customer. However, certain strategies can help build on those experiences and translate them into actual reviews.

First, don’t be afraid to ask your customers for reviews. Of course don’t tell them to be positive, but instead ask for an “honest” review. In general, try to focus on highly engaged customers. Create an e-mail list of your most loyal customers and target them.

Second, when you go above and beyond for a customer, let them know how important a review is for your practice. This is usually the moment when a customer wants to pay you back, and a good review is a great way to do it.

Third, analyze the positive reviews you already have. They can give provide you with strong insight about what kind of service delivers a positive customer experience or what features of your product appeal to your core audience.

Ultimately, when someone searches online, you want them to see positive reviews that reflect the quality of your practice. For online reputation management services that provide you with the right mix of protection and promotion, it’s time to work with professionals that can help your practice grow.

  1. Global Trust in Advertising. (2015, September). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from
  2. Local Consumer Review. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from



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