Responding to Google Reviews
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Encore: Originally published December 2018 - and it's more relevant now than ever!

We’ve had lots to say about the importance of reviews, as well as the need to focus our energy on the reviews that count the most. Yep, I’m still talking about Google reviews. But did you know that it’s equally important to respond to reviews? Yes, even good reviews. What’s hard for many practices to manage is how to respond in a way that’s effective AND fully adheres to HIPAA, or PIPEDA for our Canadian doctors.

The Good

Wait, I Should be Responding to Positive Reviews?

YES! Some practices do this as a matter of course. Some seem to think that it takes too much time or that it’s just plain old “too much” to respond to every nice review. But there are two big reasons you SHOULD be responding to positive reviews:

  1. Responding to reviews is good for your SEO
  2. People like the feedback to THEIR feedback
  3. If you ONLY respond to negative reviews, Google may give that one more relevance

Reviews count as engagement on your GoogleMyBusiness (GMB) listing. Responses further that engagement. Although it’s only a small part of your overall Local Search rankings, a GMB listing that is active with current engagement is more likely to show up more prominently for relevant local searches. That’s a big reason to reply. More online search exposure means more patients through the door. It’s as simple as that.

It also leaves people with a nice feeling. When someone leaves a review, whoever is listed as an owner on your GMB gets pinged with an email message with the review. Likewise, the poster of the review gets pinged when you respond. If someone says something nice, they like to be thanked for it. It extends their patient experience into an out-of-office rapport of good feelings that will now last longer in the mind of your patient. That kind of public branding is priceless and sends the message to new potential patients that you monitor your GMB because you care about delivering a great patient experience and take feedback seriously.


So How Should I Respond to a Nice Review?

The same way you respond to a compliment, personally and with gratitude. Just don’t get into any patient specifics — see what we say about HIPAA compliance further down—and don’t go overboard. Never say “I’m so glad we could help you out with that glass in your eye!”

The Bad: Responding to a Negative Review

Bad reviews happen to everyone. No matter how fantastic your care is, no matter how warm and friendly your staff are—there will always be bitter and angry reviews even when you are at the top of your game (and especially when you aren’t at the top of your game). In fact, a few negative reviews amongst lots of great ones makes your great reviews seem more believable.

It’s very important that you reply to negative reviews promptly. If you think your chances are slim that the poster of the negative review will retract, or at least engage you in a reconciliatory conversation, you might be right. But it doesn’t matter.

The main point of responses to negative reviews is to show other people that you care about and respond to patient concerns!

If you can get the person to follow up with a phone call, that’s fantastic. But some people cannot be appeased. You should try to see if the issue can be resolved and they retract or change the review, but ultimately your response is there for the many other prospective new patients who are checking you to see.


Hungry, Hungry HIPAA’s:
Responding to Reviews While Respecting Privacy

It can be very tempting to respond to a review, particularly a negative one, by directly countering the patient’s claims. Even positive reviews can tempt you to dive into the specifics in your response. After all, you might think, they brought it up! But we strongly suggest against it. At EyeCarePro, we take a very conservative approach to HIPAA compliance. An audit, fine, or worse—a retaliatory or exploitative lawsuit by a less-than-scrupulous bottom-feeder is simply never worth the risk. Don’t walk the line. Give patient privacy protection a wide berth. Never explicitly refer to or acknowledge that the poster is a patient, or that he or she received a specific treatment or service. Keep your replies general.

It’s All Averages, So...
Be Proactive About Getting More Reviews

The best way to counter negative reviews is to bury them—drown them in a deluge of sunshine and positivity! If you can overwhelm the negative reviews with positive ones, you can protect your average and disprove the negative nancies with the sheer weight of positivity you generate. As we’ve mentioned earlier and will say again and again, always be asking for a nice review from happy patients!

The Ugly

Sometimes, reviews go beyond simply negative, they get downright ugly. For  tips for dealing with the over-the-top and outright unfair reviews, go here. In the meantime, download our Best of the Best Practice Responses to Google Reviews by filling out the form.


Want More 5-Star Reviews?
EyeCarePro Has an App For That!

At EyeCarePro, we designed a convenient app for our clients, which sends a text to your patients and asks them to follow the link to your practice’s Google listing, leading them right to the place to leave a review. Having them do that on the spot, while still in the office, vastly improves the follow through, helping our practices quickly get more reviews and more new patients.

Fill out the form on the right and schedule a demo of our Google Review App at the same time!


Download our Best of the Best Googe Review Responses!