What You Need to Know About Managing Positive and Negative Online Reviews

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet

A solid online reputation is vital for the success and growth of any business, small or large. In studies conducted on the effect reviews have on businesses, results show that 68% of consumers trust opinions posted online and 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (Nielsen and Search Engine Land). Sounds daunting? Not to worry. You can take control of your online presence with several free and inexpensive methods to get that presence established, such as through a website, blog, or social media. Once you’re an established business online, reviews are sure to follow. And they are important, both good and bad reviews, so be sure to manage them consistently.



1. Know where customers leave reviews.

There are several sites online that provide an outlet for customers to leave feedback. For every customer who takes time to leave feedback, several more search for reviews when making the decision on which practice to go to. Websites such as Yelp, Google Local Guides, Yahoo Local, CitySearch, and InsiderPages are just a few, including social media sites your business is active on such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Take some time to visit these sites and look for your business. When you find it, sign up for notifications or use tools such as Google Alerts and Social Mention, so you’re alerted each time your brand is mentioned. This will allow you to reply to any reviews in a timely manner. As a general rule, your business should respond to every comment you receive. Knowing where to find reviews of your practice will allow you to foster a positive online presence.

Here's an example of a good response to a positive review:

Thank you for taking the time to write a review. ABC Vision Center values all feedback and uses it to improve our services. Have a great day!

Below is an example of a good response:


2. Negative reviews aren’t always bad.

Every business will get a negative review from time to time. In fact, a business with all positive reviews doesn’t come off as completely trustworthy. The most important thing to do when responding to negative reviews is to follow a few tips. First, become familiar with each review site’s guidelines for responding to a review. Some don’t allow a response, while others are open to it. Second, don't respond immediately to a negative review. Being deeply invested in your business can make bad reviews feel like a personal assault. If necessary, step away and take a few moments before crafting an answer.

Best practices for a good response are brief and polite. They do the following:

  • Thank the reviewer and offer a sincere apology.
  • Give a polite and direct response for each of their complaints.
  • Offer the reviewer a chance to come back so you can make things right for them.
  • Does not  discuss anything related to the patient's treatment , which could put you in danger of violating HIPPA rules. 

Here's an example of a good response to a negative review:

Thank you for your feedback. Here at ABC Vision Center we want every patient to have an exceptional experience, and we take complaints very seriously. Individuals with issues or concerns can contact us at 123-456-7890 so we can work to resolve the problem.

Example of a bad response to a negative review:

During your examination you said that you were satisfied with your corrective lens. You should have said something if you were unhappy instead of posting it up on Yelp. I'm a respected optometrist with a decade of experience under my belt and shouldn't have to deal with accusations like this!

The difference between these two examples is that the good response is brief and professional, does not admit to any wrongdoing or indicate whether you had treated the patient, while demonstrating concern.

Below is a real-life example of how not to respond:

These best practices shows that you value their feedback and that they contact you. In the end, their original review could shift to a positive one. You also want to make sure you never attack a past client because of their review. It will shed a poor light on your business and you’ll see a drop in clientele.


3. Encourage clients to leave positive reviews.

People are quick to share their negative experiences, but not as likely to leave positive feedback. Customers are more likely to leave a review soon after their visit, so finding ways to get your clients to take the time to leave a brief review is key. Make it easy for them. Be proactive and set up company profiles on review sites. Then, provide links directly to the site in a follow-up email or on your website. You can also find ways to incentivize your clients. Offer a small discount or have a random monthly drawing for all reviewers, not just those who leave positive reviews.


If you don’t already have a company website or Facebook page, now is the time to get one going. It’s also good business practice to be proactive and establish those company profiles on business review sites. An online presence will help your practice grow, and remember, both negative and positive reviews are necessary for a thriving business. 


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