Henry Ford once said, “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from the person’s angle….” This from the automobile magnate who heard the cries of the American people and produced a car they could afford. It was revolutionary at the time.

Does Ford’s wisdom still apply in the digital world today? Absolutely! Listen to patient reviews, especially if they’re negative, and learn to respond appropriately.

Research shows online reviews influence patient decisions and the likelihood they’ll become a customer. The way you interact with critics online also plays a role. Follow these steps to keep negative comments on your “radar.”

Respond quickly. It will reduce the chances of additional negative comments. Reply with kindness and professionalism to promote a positive image. Never post a defensive comeback. That will only escalate the attack.

Apologize and acknowledge. Nothing disarms a disgruntled person like humility and grace. Your warm approach may even attract new patients.

Discuss the situation privately. If you know the reviewer, call her and move the conversation offline. If you don’t know her, post a comment asking the reviewer to contact a specific staff member and include a direct phone number.

Address the complaint. Tell the unhappy patient you take her complaint seriously and want to improve the way you run your practice or hospital. Then publicly share the steps you plan on taking to rectify the situation.

Reach out. Give the patient a way to stay in touch and follow up with her when you’ve made the changes you promised. Share the changes online, too. Show readers you deal positively with negative reviews.

How do you handle patients that do more than complain about long wait times or a rude receptionist – those that engage in full-on attacks, harshly criticizing your practice or your physicians and damaging your reputation?

Try handling the criticism using the “radar” steps. If that doesn’t work, talk to us. We can help with overall reputation management.

Ford also said, “You can’t build a reputation by what you’re going to do.” Do something. By monitoring, responding, and implementing change, you can create a positive online reputation for you and your team.