Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

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Business Talk: Google dares us to do better

The inherent fear of negative reviews


August 9, 2021
By Anthony Lombardi


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Photo:© Astrovector studio / Adobe Stock

In our world of patient/client services, perception can become their reality. For instance, when I write an article for this publication many of our readers can view it online and comment, question, or give their opinion to my article. This feedback is not feared because in most cases its a professional interaction about a current topic. However, when we receive a negative patient review on social media, it could be due to an oversight, a miscommunication or an overreaction to something that happened during their visit. Nonetheless – it is significant! It is important because it meant something to them. That, in and of itself is a good reason to fear negative patient reviews.

The VIP effect
Negative patient reviews are definitely undesirable but there is a huge upside to the threat of receiving them. For me, it has elevated my patient/client/customer care to another dimension. The prospect of Google reviews combined with COVID-19 has transformed my approach into treating every patient like they are a VIP customer, and why not? There is no longer a waiting room so patients no longer feel like a number at the deli counter. They come in at an appointment time especially for them and are escorted into a pre-sanitized room where every seat and surface has been attended to – even the waste paper basket has been refreshed. It’s as if they are VIP at The Four Seasons and this room is theirs. For example: Everyone receives free parking. When they enter the room we ask if they wish for the lights to be dimmed (headache, neck pain, and concussion patients appreciate it), and we make sure they are aware of the passcode to our free-wifi service. Then, I proceed to do my very best to give them the best assessment and treatment visit they have ever had. I pay special attention to be engaged. I make eye contact. I ensure the patient can experience objective differences which demonstrate measurables that even they can see and feel. The treatment involves what they need, whether it is a combination of electroacupuncture with manual soft tissue and joint release, or something more simplified. I make certain that they understand their homework: what exercises they should do and demonstrate them or watch them do it correctly before leaving. I walk them to the front, they book their next appointment and leave through their own “VIP” exit.

Since doing this, I have never been in eminent danger of receiving a negative review. One thing that has helped me execute this is – working less. Since June 2020 I reduced my hours from 42 to 30 hours per week. I take two days off per week plus Sunday. The reduction has allowed me to be well-rested and I am raring to go and brimming with excitement.

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Review, review
Review expert Khalid Saleh, says that 56% of people will read 2-6 online reviews before making a consumer choice. 90% of people consult online reviews before making a purchase and 88% trust online reviews as much as receiving a recommendation from a trusted friend. Sometimes however, negative reviews happen.

When you receive a negative review, here’s what you should do:

  • Respond promptly and be respectful.
  • Admit your mistakes
  • Correct inaccuracies
  • Highlight your strengths
  • Write in words everyone can understand
  • Provide compensation if it’s applicable.

I find it helpful to use the 4 A’s when responding to a negative review: Awareness, Acceptance, Apology, Atonement. Let the patietn know that you are Aware of what they are unhappy with; Accept and validate that their experience should have been a better one; Apologize for missing the mark; and Atoneme by making an honest peace offering to demonstrate you value them.

When are negative reviews a good thing?
Sometimes you will come across practitioners who have over 300, 400, 500 patient reviews and a 5-star rating. This can raise a red flag because objective readers who come across such perfect reviews also know that nobody is perfect and you cannot possibly please everyone. So as long as you are not complacent and are continually trying your very best – you won’t likely need to worry.

On another note, amazingly this is my 10th year writing for this publication. My first column was in July/August 2011! I wanted to take a few lines to thank the readership and the editors of this magazine for allowing me to write about my passion. I’m looking forward to many more!


Anthony LOMBARDI, DC, is a private consultant to athletes in the NFL, CFL and NHL, and founder of the Hamilton Back Clinic, a multidisciplinary clinic. He teaches his fundamental EXSTORE Assessment System and practice building workshops to various health professionals. For more information, visit www.exstore.ca.


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