How to Respond to Negative Feedback Online

It’s a cliché, but you can’t make everybody happy. For any business, such as a pharmacy, this is an unfortunate reality. No one wants to have unsatisfied patients and customers, but it is inevitable. With the rise of review sites like Yelp, now anyone can critique your pharmacy on a worldwide platform!

And it’s not just Yelp. Facebook has a review feature. Google has a review feature. Even if a patient doesn’t want to leave a review there, they can still leave a comment on Instagram, or post a tweet to Twitter. There are a LOT of avenues for unhappy consumers to express frustration.

So what’s a pharmacist to do? How do you handle an unhappy patient who posted their complaints for all the world to see? Luckily for you, we have some tips!

Tip 1: Don’t ignore it!

This cannot be stressed enough. There are few good reasons to ignore a negative review or comment. If anyone sees a bad review left with no response left from the business, it seems as though the business does not care about their consumer’s opinions or experiences. The exception is if a comment is completely vulgar or profane- it’s understandable why you wouldn’t engage! Otherwise, respond as promptly as possible, while still being thoughtful in your response. Aim to respond within 2 to 3 days of the negative feedback.

Tip 2: Be thorough!

Read the complaint. And then read it again. And maybe a third time just for good measure. If you respond to the negative feedback and misunderstand the complaint, it can aggravate the situation.

If the consumer complains on a platform like Twitter, which limits the length of response, respond and ask the user to speak elsewhere, such as through email or phone, to best understand and resolve the problem.

Tip 3: Be honest!

We’re human. That means we are not perfect and we are bound to make mistakes. Your pharmacy is not run entirely by perfect customer service pharmacy robots, and you are likely to upset a customer at some point (but if your pharmacy is run by pharmacy robots- that is so cool!).

What will set your business apart is how you deal with critical feedback. Do you shift blame, or do you own up to an honest mistake?

Now, you don’t have to be brutally honest. If your pharmacy was short-staffed because someone had a few too many birthday drinks the night before and called out- your customers don’t need to know that. But you can still be honest about any shortcomings, and turn it into something positive by informing of new practices you may implement to avoid similar situations in the future.

Tip 4: Be professional!

The internet… am I right? People can hide behind their keyboards and say mean things – and they don’t even have to be true! When people write rude or untruthful things online, it can be so tempting to call them out and defend your business from falsehoods. Please try to avoid this. Even though it is all online, it is still business, and should be conducted as such.

Responding with more aggression can make the situation worse. If a customer is saying something that you know to be untrue, you can gently point it out, and offer to discuss the matter with them further. (“I am sorry you were unhappy with your vitamin purchase. We do not sell that brand here but we would be happy to help you find a more favorable alternative!”)

To Sum it Up…

When you respond to your patient’s critical feedback, it will set you apart from other businesses, especially pharmacies. By responding to these comments you are letting your patients know that you’ve heard what they had to say and appreciate their feedback. Truly, most people are only looking to be heard. Answering to their negative feedback in a professional manner, and capitalizing on those opportunities is one more way to foster the best relationships with your patients.

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