Managing Online Reviews

          For many years a business’s reputation was built by word of mouth.  Years of great customer service was the goal to building a reputation by gaining the respect and loyalty of customers clients, and patients.  Business owners believed that building a solid reputation was the gateway for encouraging referrals and the cornerstone of a successful business.

     Today, word of mouth is no longer limited by face to face interaction.  Websites, such as,, for most businesses, and, and, for physicians, allow anyone with an internet connection to share his or her opinion about a business with the general public.  Reputations that were built over a period of many years by supportive clients, customers, and patients are now overshadowed by opinions that gain the attention of communities.

     For the vast majority of businesses, the overwhelming number of reviews is positive.  However, positive comments are not always accompanied by a five-star rating.  Anything less than five stars are perceived by a business is suboptimal.  Ideally, positive comments with laudatory remarks that are accompanied five-star ratings are desired by all types of businesses.

     However, negative comments are taken as an insult, and are often perceived as without a basis in reality. Many businesses fear that negative comments may harm their reputation and their bottom line.   Businesses often turn to business consultants, attorneys, and their liability carriers for advice in how to respond to negative comments.

     Legal remedies allege libel and defamation are not usually the best answer, especially since some states have enacted laws to protect reviews.  Courts may view negative statements made online at review websites as opinion, not fact.  Litigation is time consuming, expensive, and unpredictable.  In some cases, the review mat file a counter claim and put the physicians on the defensive.

     Many advisors recommend that physicians consider negative reviews as the cost of doing business in the age of internet.  Physicians who do respond online to a negative comment need to exercise caution.  Responses that identify a reviewer or violate HIPAA regulations are to be avoided.  Usually the best way is to respond in a positive tone that is simple, polite, professional, and compassionate.  It is often a good idea to end your reply with a courteous “Thank you.  We appreciate all feedback.”

    If you are concerned about their online review, consider monitoring their internet feedback on a regular basis.  Simply Google yourself or go directly to review sites to see ehat comments are being posted about yourself.  If you’re too busy, have a staff member do it for you. Some experts advise that you personalize responses to online reviews with a nice professional photo.

     When in doubt about responding or the manner of response, call your professional liability carrier for advice.  Many carriers have experience with this issue and offer complimentary advice to avoid lawsuits.  Encouraging your clients, customers, and patients to submit positive reviews on your behalf is an effective means of bolstering your positive presence on the internet and countering negtive reviews.  Use your profile on DayClips to bolster a positive image.  Your DayClips profile is especially helpful since it often ranks among the first few pages of an internet search for your name or practice.

     Times of traditional reputation building that took years to develop are now being replaced by instant access to reviews posted on the internet.  By working with the system and learning to respond appropriately, your practice will be in a better position to grow and prosper.  To paraphrase Charles Darwin, the future does not necessarily belong to the strongest and most intelligent, but to those who are most adaptable to change.