Turning Negative Yelp Reviews Into Positive Marketing

Gretchen Kalthoff

Gretchen Kalthoff

Posted on November 16, 2015

yelp marketing Our first reaction to a negative review of our business is often panic or anger or both.

Over the last few years, the power of Yelp has dramatically increased. There are now over 50 million businesses on the site worldwide. According to a Harvard Business School study, a one-star increase in Yelp ratings leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue. 
Furthermore, in a survey commissioned by Yelp and undertaken by Nielsen, 4 out of 5 Yelp users say they visit the site when preparing to spend money.
It’s undeniable that feedback strongly influences consumer behavior, and while negative reviews cannot be prevented nor controlled, your response to them can be.

How to Benefit From Negative Reviews

What can you learn?

Keep things in perspective and try not to take the criticism personally. Read complaints objectively and consider what you can learn. Negative reviews can highlight a problem that you may not have been aware of or help you better understand patient expectations. For example, if you see negative reviews consistently posted regarding customer service at your practice, it may be time to review your staffing. Use negative reviews as a tool to drive actions for improvement.
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Search engine optimization

Medical SEO means looking beyond just your website. Search engines love online reviews because consumers love them. It is thought that online reviews make up approximately 10% of how Google and other search engines rank results. Reviews matter for SEO rankings and more reviews is better.
When someone Googles your practice, Yelp reviews will show prominently on the results page because the two are highly integrated. Therefore, you also need to make sure that your practice has an account with Yelp and all the contact details are correct (address, phone numbers, hours etc.).

Start a conversation

Respond publicly to any negative reviews and apologize for the reviewer’s dissatisfaction. Customers love personal attention, so offer to make up for their poor experience and explain how you are going to deal with the issue. Take the complaint seriously and be sure to post your reply in a timely manner.

Demonstrate customer service

By engaging with negative reviewers, you demonstrate publicly that customer service and satisfaction are important to your business. It also adds a voice to your medical practice and can help create patient connections. Behave diplomatically and politely; in the long run, a few negative reviews may actually make your business look better.

Humanize your practice

Having some negative reviews can make your business seem ‘real’ to customers – if there are only positive reviews, it can cause customers to feel a little suspicious. In fact, customers expect that there will be a few negative reviews – just ensure that you respond to each one appropriately.
Your online reputation is a key factor to consider in marketing your medical practice and negative Yelp reviews can actually prove beneficial. It’s not just what customers say about your business – it’s how you respond that really counts.


Gretchen Kalthoff

Gretchen Kalthoff

Gretchen Kalthoff is a writer and marketing specialist for MWE. She is an expert in healthcare marketing and health IT with a special interest in increasing patient engagement through social media and healthcare technologies.

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