By Justin Bazan, OD
July 8, 2015
To say my practice is attuned to social media and online interaction with patients would be an understatement. We made our practice web site our Facebook page.
I look forward to hearing from my patients, and I use suchinteractions as a stepping stone for building the practice. Like most practices, the majority of our reviews are positive, but sometimes we have to confront an angry patient. Here are five hypothetical angry patients, and what I might say to them to assuage their anger and turn them into advocates for our practice. I once was able to turn a three-star exam into a five-star exam on Yelp simply by explaining the perspective of the practice, and how we operate.
One key to keep in mind: As you respond to online reviews, be sure to avoid mentioning (even reiterating) protected health information. The same HIPAA laws that you must adhere to in your office, and elsewhere, also apply on social media.
Five Keys for Handling Negative Online Reviews
Keep it Real: Respond as you would in person and with your true personality. Robo-responses come across as disingenuous.
Tell your story: Clear the air. People know there are two sides to every story. They want to hear yours.
Right the wrongs: If you were wrong, fix it.
Remember, the customer isn’t always right: Your life will be filled with crazies if you publicly make it known that you tolerate such behavior.
Never ignore: It makes it look like you don’t care or aren’t paying attention.
Waiting Too Long with Annoying Children
Patient: “I visited Park Slope Eye last week for my regular check-up—had to go to get more CLs—and I waited for more than 20 minutes for my appointment to begin! Add to that the annoyance of two mothers with spoiled brat children screaming in the waiting room! Things seemed really chaotic—like they were short-staffed or having a disorganized day. When it came time to check-out, the receptionist couldn’t find my insurance information, which caused even MORE waiting time. Dr. Bazan seems nice, but I would recommend you stay far away from this place!”—Posted by Cindy R.
Dr. Bazan: “Hi Cindy! Waiting sucks, as does having to deal with screaming kids. We hate chaos, too, but sometimes things happen! It’s certainly not the norm here, as you can see from the dozen of other glowing reviews. You were dead on about us being short staffed! It was just one of those days. I’m sure you have them, too. I see that you arrived at 10:08 am, for your 10 am appointment. You were immediately greeted by Aaron, who did explain we were running 15 minutes behind due to the fact that one of our staffers had a personal emergency and had to leave early. We made sure you had your choice of beverage and hooked you up with a lotto ticket just to say, ‘Hey, you had bad luck coming on a crazy day here, but hopefully you will have better luck with the lotto.’ We also let you know that if the 15-minute wait was an issue, we could reschedule you to a better time. We asked for your insurance info when you checked in, but you didn’t have it handy, so we only had the opportunity to check it at the end of the visit, so to be fair…we were actually waiting on you! Everything seemed to be cool, so we are actually kinda surprised to see this review. Bummer for sure.”
Dr. Bazan’s practice review page on Yelp has a mix of reviews, positive and negative. Dr. Bazan advises staying positive in your responses: Tellyour side of the story, and offersolutions to patient dissatisfaction whenever possible.
Felt Pressured to Buy Products
Patient: “I had my six-month check-up at Park Slope Eye last week (I have early signs of glaucoma, so my last doctor told me I have to get my eyes checked twice a year), and I don’t think I want to go back. I just moved from Seattle, where I had an eye doctor I loved, so I was disappointed by the service at Park Slope Eye. I liked the way the doctor took the time to explain everything in the exam room about my eyes and the glaucoma, but I didn’t like the way the person in the glasses shop part of the office kept trying to get me to look at new glasses. I’m not that near-sighted, so I don’t wear my glasses that often, and I definitely don’t want any contact lenses. All I wanted was a simple six-month check-up for my glaucoma, and I feel like I got pressured to buy things I didn’t need. I don’t like feeling like I’m being pushed to buy things—especially in a doctor’s office.”—Posted by Sam T.
Dr. Bazan: “Hi Sam! Thank you for those kind words! You are right. We hate pushy sales people. She was actually just a fill-in while our awesome staffer was on vacay. I agree with you, and it sucks that you had to be here on that day. Trust me, we sell with compassion, not for the commission. She will not be invited back to fill in anymore. We look forward to seeing you back for your six-month check up!”
Patient: “WAY EXPENSIVE—KEEP AWAY!!! I made the biggest mistake last week. I thought I’d give Park Slope Eye’s spectacle shop a chance since I had a friend who got glasses from them that he really liked, but it turned out to be A LOT more expensive than I expected. I can’t see up close anymore without reading glasses, so Dr. Bazan convinced me that what I needed were progressive glasses. I had never heard of them before (I just knew I didn’t want to look like my grandmother in her bifocals!), and so I thought, why not? BIG MISTAKE! They make me dizzy—it’s really hard to wear them—and they were twice as expensive as the glasses I got from Warby Parker a couple years ago. BIG RIP OFF.” –Posted by Jane L.
Dr. Bazan: “Hi Jane! You were super-thrilled when, out of the three options presented to you by our expert optician, one of them, the no-line progressive, allowed you to see clear and comfortable no matter where you were looking without having to take your glasses off and on all day. After discussing those three options, you were so excited by them it was actually more like you convinced ME that you needed them. You just picked them up literally 20 minutes ago, so, as we went over with you, things will feel like that usually for a couple of hours, sometimes up to a couple of days. Completely normal and expected. Keep in mind there are a ton of things that factor into the cost of eyewear. Unlike Warby Parker, we have close to 1,000 frames of varying designs, which means you had the opportunity in our office to try on and find something unique that you loved. That means we have a large range of prices to go with them. All of them have clearly marked prices on them and we provided an exact breakdown of fees to you. We are super-transparent and super-informative, as it’s our goal to make sure everybody gets something they love that they feel is worth it. Same with the lenses. With that said, if you don’t, just come back and we will be sure to make it right and get you into something you love.”
Too Much Testing
Patient: “Beware—Unnecessary Testing! I had heard about this before, but it had never happened to me—until now. I heard that doctors’ offices today were trying to get people to have a lot of tests so they could make more money, but I never believed it before. Well, now I believe it. I went to Park Slope Eye a couple weeks ago just for a regular exam (I wear contacts, so I don’t have a choice—I have to go to the eye doctor once a year to get my prescription renewed), and there was so much testing! I used to go to an eye doctor that never did any of this stuff, but I moved into the city last year, and I didn’t want to have to go all the way back to my hometown in New Jersey just to go to the eye doctor. If all this testing—all that stuff that was done in the exam room—was necessary, then why didn’t my last doctor do it? I feel like I was put through a lot of testing and ‘examination’ I probably didn’t need.”—Posted by Lou H.
Dr. Bazan: “Hi Lou! All of those test were included in the fee for your exam, which we helped you understand in an e-mail before your visit and upon check in at your visit. Some people are OK with risking it and sacrificing care. We, however, aren’t cool with that at all. The one optional service that you declined, was an ultra-high resolution, ultra-wide field imaging of the inside of your eyes. There are currently only three of those machines in Brooklyn, and while it certainly is not essential to a comprehensive eye exam, it has proven itself to improve and enhance our level of care. The proof that our patients love it is that in the last year that we have had it, 92.86 percent of patients have opted for it!”
Patient: “Weird Glasses Shop! I just moved to Brooklyn from Arkansas, so maybe I’m just not used to the way they do things here, but you wouldn’t believe the weird art and strange stuff I saw at an eye doctor’s office a few days ago. I needed to get my glasses fixed—they would keep slipping off my nose and I couldn’t see right in them anyway—and so I thought I’d just go into Park Slope Eye since I keep passing by it on my way to the subway. It’s really strange! There was weird art on the wall and other art (I think it was art) in other places. And some of the glasses for sale were just bizarre looking to me—and VERY expensive. I just like things very simple—nothing fancy. Unless you’re one of those artsy/weird types, I wouldn’t go there.”—Posted Susan W.
Dr. Bazan: “We love our community, and one of the ways we support and give back is by being a no-fee art gallery for local artists. Our current artist-in-residenceis Voodo Fe. Here is more about him: http://www.voodofe.com/Art_pg_1.html. Check us out on Facebook to see what other cool stuff we are up to! We hand-select every frame, and our collection is definitely different from the standard commercial brands that populate mainstream middle-America offices. I’m betting that your taste will begin to change, and you will be back in wanting a pair from us! We have some of the dopest frames in the area!”
Justin Bazan, OD, of Park Slope Eye in Brooklyn, NY, started his own practice cold. He speaks regularly on strategies for marketing your practice via social networks. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org