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Have you Received any Bad Reviews Lately? Here’s How to Respond to Them (Episode 6)


As a physician, when you get bad online reviews how do you respond?

For many physicians, this is a huge thorn in the side because even just one bad online review can really mess up your first page search results and your online reputation.

Therefore, knowing what to do and what not to do when it comes to bad online reviews can really make a difference to your online presence.


In This Episode of The Career Rx You’ll Learn:

  1. What not to do when dealing with bad reviews (huge mistakes many doctors make)
  2. How to respond effectively to bad online reviews
  3. How to change the way you show up in search results so that a single bad online review won’t ruin your reputation





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Hey there friends! Welcome to The Career Prescription (aka The Career Rx). I’m your host Marjorie Stiegler.

Today we’re going to be talking about what to do with bad online reviews.

For many physicians, this is a huge thorn in the side because even just one bad online review can really mess up your first page search results and your online reputation.

So I wanted to give you guys three tips on what to not do.

When you’re doing an audit of your online presence (and you really should be doing this!) – if you find a bad review there are three things to not do. I see a lot of people doing these, which is why I bring it up.

Now, first I should mention, I am not an attorney, nor do I know your specific situation or the laws in your state, so take this as the education it’s intended and if you find yourself in a sticky situation, go get individualized professional advice.


Dealing With Bad Reviews: 3 Things You Shouldn’t Do

How to deal with bad reviews. What to do and not do.


1. Take Your Frustrations and Vent Online


Even if you’re in a “private” Facebook group or private LinkedIn group, you can not just speak freely. We all know that nothing’s really private. These groups could be made up of your colleagues.

There is nothing that is truly a secret online. Anyone can take a screenshot and share it around. I don’t know why your colleagues might do that, but we know it happens. Anyone could forward an email that you sent them or even take a picture of a handwritten letter and send it around. So, you should consider everything that is public to be permanent.

Venting your frustrations online will just reflect poorly on you. Even if people understand, it’s not worth it.

A lot of times, things happen to our patients that really aren’t within our control, so it feels bad if they leave us a review about something that we couldn’t do anything about anyway. Or if the person’s confused and they’ve got the wrong doctor with a similar name, that also is troublesome, right?

There are a lot of legitimate reasons that you might feel really frustrated, but it does not help you to take it out in a public forum online, even if you think that public forum is private. So I strongly, strongly discourage you from doing this.

There’s just no way to vent that frustration and come out looking like the caring professional that you are.


2. Do Not Manufacture Reviews


I see a lot of private discussion groups where people are asking family and friends to go write favorable reviews to counterbalance a negative review.

Do not do this!

Firstly, it’s not ethical.

Secondly, it’s going to be obvious if people can see a wide variety of geographical distribution. Maybe not all of these people giving reviews actually live near your practice. They aren’t likely to be true patients. Also, the reviews will look like they’ve flooded in on the same day or a couple of days in a row.

This will be bad for your credibility as you now you have a bad review that may or may not be fair and you’ve added a layer of ethical trouble by manufacturing reviews.

So, do not ask for reviews from friends and family – even if they ask you if it’s OK! It really doesn’t help you.


3. Don’t Engage in a Back & Forth Argument Online


Depending on the review platform, sometimes you can leave comments and you could respond to the person’s review.

Do not engage in any kind of back and forth mudslinging around whatever has been said about you or your practice. You will not win. You will just end up looking unprofessional as it’s just very hard to have that kind of conversation online.

When people read your response, your response is going to show some of your frustration and you don’t want to be having that sort of a debate with someone about their experience. Their experience is their experience. That’s how it was for them.

You may also inadvertently disclose additional protected patient information if you do that. So do not respond. It will only make matters worse to go back and forth with the person who has posted.


How To Respond To Bad Reviews: What You Can Do.

woman on laptop


Here are three things you could do to help the situation.

Again, this is not individualized advice and not legal advice, so you want to make your own decision, but you can consider these things.


1. Invite the Reviewer to Connect with You Offline


One thing that I think can be very effective is to leave a comment. If you can say something along these lines:

“I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. This falls well short of what we intend to provide to our patients or our clients. Please contact our office at…”

…and then you provide a phone number or an email, something that is a legitimate way to contact the office so you can hear about it and make it right.

If you say something like this, a couple of things may happen:

One possibility is that they might call you, which is actually really super. It might sound like something you’re not looking forward to, but presuming that you are a caring and professional position, you do want your patients to have a good experience. So if something happened, even if it’s outside your direct control, you’d probably like to hear about it. That’s just good service. So it’s feedback.

  • It will be helpful even if it’s constructive feedback and maybe it reflects that your office staff or you were having a bad day and came across in a way you didn’t mean
  • Maybe there’s something that can be changed so you’re going to get great feedback and that’s going to make you better able to provide a great experience for everybody else.

The second possibility is they don’t contact you, but you have just shown the rest of the world that you are a caring professional person.

Since you left a comment this shows you do indeed care and that you have offered to rectify the problem.

The benefit of leaving a comment that is fairly vague is you do not want to get into too much detail. You have apologized and not necessarily for anything that was within your control.

So, anyone who’s reading that negative review is then going to see your response, which reflects favorably on you, whether the person bothers to call you back or not.

Now as a bonus, it’s possible (and I would never ask anyone to do this), that if they do call you and you have a conversation that is productive, they might change their mind and decide to take down that negative review.

The patient may decide their review was rash, unfair and not really correct, so now will take it down. They’re really the only person who has the power to do that. Again, never request or expect this.


2. Make It Easy For Patients To Leave You Reviews


The other thing that you want to do is make it really easy for your patients to leave you reviews.

So perhaps on the way out of the office, you set up an iPad or some other type of email followup that makes it really easy for your customers, clients or patients to leave reviews.

Just remember to never ask anyone for a favorable review. You just ask for a review and a lot of times people will give you really good information.

Not only will you get feedback, but asking for reviews shows you care about their experience. And that in and of itself will make them perhaps more inclined to leave you a favorable review, understanding that not everything always goes perfectly, but they will know that you care about them.

Making it easy for people to give you reviews will increase the chances of getting other reviews as it’s not usually top of mind for most of your patients. They’re not thinking about it.

So, make it really, really easy for people to leave reviews. Some of it might be critical and that’s fine.

The more information that you have, the better and the more it will represent how your practice truly is.


3. Take Steps to Improve Your Search Results


The final thing you can do naturally is curate your search results. Yes, you can actually have a deliberate online strategy that impacts your search results.

If you see that the first couple of pages of Google search results are physician rating websites, then you my friend are doing it wrong. There is a lot you can do to make sure that your best professional self is put front and center.

All of your major accomplishments, the things that you offer, the things that you do, all of your contributions, the best things that are sitting there on your CV or resume right now, or maybe even on your business website – but people aren’t finding this information because you aren’t deploying an effective strategy.

If this is you, sign up for my free five-day email course about the basics of building an online strategy.

Your information is out there, but no one will see it unless you help Google to show it to the people who are looking for information about you.

Before I go, I’ll mention that litigation is totally outside the scope of this content, but if there is a bad review that is totally, factually incorrect and will truly ruin your reputation, it is not impossible to work with an attorney and maybe have success in getting the review taken down.


Dealing With Bad Reviews: Recap


Now remember, there are three things you do not want to do.

  • You do not vent online
  • You do not request or accept offers of manufactured favorable reviews
  • Do not get into back and forth about facts or mudslinging with the reviewer

Instead, you can:

  • Invite the reviewer to connect with you offline by leaving a comment that shows that you are a caring professional and that you want to make it right.
  • Make it easy for other patients to leave reviews (whether favorable or not) about you in the future so that the reviews will reflect the totality of your practice.
  • Take an active role in curating what shows up on those first few pages of your search engine results.

Thanks for joining me on this episode of The Career Rx Podcast.

Please be sure to subscribe and leave me a review on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast or whatever podcast player you’re using to listen today. Also, be sure to send me your questions so that I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode.

Bye for now,



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