27 Apr 2017 RB Marketing Series

So You Received a Negative Review Online. What Now?

Ruchi Dhami
Ruchi Dhami
Director of Market Insights & Development

No one likes negative reviews. Find me a person who wants to hear or read something negative about their work. Go on, I’ll wait.

In an industry where business is deeply personal, more so than any other industry, a negative review can feel extra hurtful or even unwarranted. I work with a lot of facilities, many of whom have a hard time accepting or understanding negative reviews. One individual asked me, “how am I supposed to accept that someone is complaining about the beds being uncomfortable and the food being bland when 30 days ago, they were living on the streets, homeless and hungry?” It’s a good question, and definitely one that, on the surface, seems like a no brainer.

The reality is, residential addiction treatment isn’t just about the treatment. It’s about the full, immersive experience of being in a facility, receiving clinical care, life-skills training, and hospitality services. Each factor plays a critical role in the recovery journey, and when one aspect of the program does not meet expectations, it can negatively impact a client’s trust, comfort, and overall recovery.

Personal experiences are just that: personal. Not everyone is going to have the best experience, and it’s important to accept that negative reviews happen. Once you’ve understood this, the art of dealing with negative feedback is no big deal.

So what is the appropriate strategy to handle a negative review? We’ve broken it down for you in just a few simple tips so that you can resolve unpleasant feedback like a pro.

  1. Always respond to a negative response, and do so in a timely manner. The only thing more potentially destructive than a negative review is a negative review goes unanswered for weeks on end. Monitor your social media and listings on third party websites regularly to see who’s saying what, and leave a response quickly.
  2. Stay calm and professional. This might seem like common sense, but we have to reiterate this point. It’s easy to become defensive and point fingers when you read something unpleasant about your facility, staff, and work, but it is of the utmost importance that you resist the urge. Take the high road. It’ll be better in the long run.
  3. Apologize. Whether or not you agree that the negative review is warranted, a review reflects an individual’s experience, and is a valid representation of his or her reality. An apology goes a long way.
  4. Show a different experience. When you respond to a review, you’re not just speaking to the reviewer who left a comment, but also to every single person who reads the negative feedback and is considering your facility for treatment. If Joe indicated that the food was bad, then describe how you have or will improve your menu options.
  5. Keep it short and sweet. There’s nothing more important than brevity online. If there’s a longer conversation to be had, invite the reviewer to call, direct message, or email your facility for further resolution.

Using the above will help you manage your online reputation, and build a brand based on solid customer service. But, if you want more details, check out our full Reviews Kit for everything and anything you want to know about reviews and reputation management.

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