WHAT CAN YOU DO?
First, don’t panic. If you put yourself on the internet then this is something you’re going to have to learn how to deal with. You are not alone and it’s a fairly safe bet to say that this has happened to many of your peers. If it hasn’t happened to your peers it’s only a matter of time before it does (tell them not to panic when it happens to them!).
Pause. Take a deep breath and consider what you’re going to do. Ringing your lawyer should not be the first step you make.
If it’s a private review site or specialist forum
Most review sites have a non-vexatious policy. If it looks to be malicious or without foundation they will remove it.
If the review is genuine then most sites won’t just remove it without question but what they do provide is space (usually underneath the review) where you can reply to the review. You can explain what happened and if you don’t think it’s your fault then politely explain why.
Remember to always be courteous (even if inside you’re fuming) because what you’re trying to do is resolve the issue. Invite the client to contact you to see what can be done to make them happy.
Also, remember to ask your clients for a good review. Most people understand that there are off days if the good reviews significantly outweigh the bad ones.
If it’s a Google Review
In their quest for global domination, Google has spent a lot of time encouraging people to review products and services. The good news is that you do need to have a registered Google account to review so you’re not going to get anonymous people doing a hatchet job on you out of spite. The bad news is that because people are registered then Google don’t like to remove bad listings. Further bad news for those afflicted with a less than flattering review is that they can pop up in the Google search terms for your name.
As with the private review sites you can ask Google to remove it. The process is fairly straightforward and you can do this through your Google My Places control panel. This page is helpful. However, in all instances when we’ve tried to get a review removed the request has been declined. Google don’t like to remove reviews.
Also, Google give a right to reply and you can post a response to any reviews that you don’t think warrants a negative viewpoint.
As with the other review sites, the best way to counter a bad review is lots of good reviews. Ask satisfied clients to review you. Do this soon after their procedure and send them a link, by email, of the page they need to complete.
A newspaper website
Sometimes negative feedback can come from a news outlet. Journalists love drama, and healthcare is a favourite topic as it always has the human element. They will often dig up stories when things go wrong and a practitioner may find themselves part of it. Google does give a lot of attention to newspaper websites and these articles can often turn up in the search rankings at the top of the page for your name. Trying to get this removed is difficult. The newspaper is the place to start with requesting your name be removed. If they decline then you have a second option which is to try to force the story onto page two of Google – a place where nobody goes.
I warn you that this is not an easy option but it is something that we have had lots of success with. What you need to do is get your name out there. Make sure your LinkedIn account is up to date. Set up a Twitter account. Check all your hospital listings are up to date and full of as much content as they will let you put up there. Check out the listing sites and make sure you have full profiles and pictures. Create small one-page microsites that have your name in the URL. You have to obsessively start to get your name on as many sites as you can and what will happen in time is that these sites will rise above the offending news site and eventually push it down the page. Eventually, after a herculean effort, the article will flop into page two and most people don’t get that far!