How to Handle a Disgruntled Patient in the Digital Age

Customer service has always mattered. But, nowadays, in the world of Yelp, Google, and Social Media, a bad customer experience can be magnified like never before. The internet has become a megaphone for all customer experiences. Even if you check all your customer service boxes and do your best to keep customers happy, you are likely to still encounter some negative customer reviews.

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Negative reviews can very easily tarnish brands. When patients use Google to find their next MedSpa, they are more likely to choose the brand with the stunning reviews rather than the one with the 2.8 star rating. For better or worse, this is how our digital world works.

So, how do you handle a disgruntled patient in the digital age?

Below is our road map to make sure you maximize your review potential and keep your name in the good graces of both search engines and review sites.

1. Respond to the Client

As a med spa, your reaction to a negative experience can often be the most impactful. Empathy is an incredibly powerful tool when coping with a disgruntled patient. Regardless of who is in the right or wrong, the patient feels wronged, and that needs to be the starting point.

“The customer’s perception is your reality”

~ Kate Zabriskie, Pres. Business Training Works

Negative feedback provides insight into a patient’s perception of your business. Don’t treat a negative review as merely a patient blowing off steam. Stick to the adage: the customer is always right. If a customer writes a negative review recounting their experience, it’s likely other customers may feel the same way. Let the client know you understand where they’re coming from, and be sincere.

To respond:

  • Reply to the customer in the medium they made the complaint (Facebook/Yelp/Google, etc)
  • Let the client know you are very sorry for their negative experience
  • Offer the customer something complimentary or discounted
  • Most importantly: do not get defensive or combative. This will only cause a bigger problem.
  • In addition to your response to the review, send them a personalized email, or give them a phone call to apologize in a more personalized way.

Letting the client know you understand their experience and offering a sincere apology is a great first step.

2. Atone for Your Company’s Mistake

You empathized with the patient and let them know you understand their grievances. Now, it’s time to atone for your spa’s mistakes. When you offer something to make up for your mistake, it makes it very difficult for the patient to remain angry or disappointed with your business. Sometimes, people just want to feel heard and important.  

As the saying goes, the punishment should fit the crime. Depending on the severity of the negative experience, your spa needs to decide how to make it up to the customer.  For example, if your patient waited 10 minutes for their service, a complimentary service is not necessary. Use your best judgement and provide either a discount, a refund, or a gift card for a new service.

After all, a gift card or voucher for a new service, could open up the door for another review.

3. Reform the Process

Depending on the nature of the complaint, the client may have been justified in their complaint. Don’t let a patient’s poor experience happen again. Ignoring the issue and allowing it to continue again could cost your business its reputation.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

~ Bill Gates

When prioritizing patient service:

  • evaluate all of the negative comments on a case by case basis,
  • look for any underlying patterns with your service model,
  • ask yourself: is there any specific point in the patient experience where improvements could be made?

If the patient is issued a voucher for a free service and they return only to receive the same negative service, you’re in big trouble. Analyze the problem, and reflect on how your med spa can improve their experience. Evaluate every possible friction point and iron out the kinks.

Be proactive, and work to prevent bad reviews before they happen.

Custom service isn’t always easy, and there isn’t always a proven method. Clients and processes can fall through the cracks. But, remember: one bad review won’t ruin your brand. Make sure to use every review as a learning experience and continue to put your client’s satisfaction at a precedent. Good luck!