Hospitals: How to Respond to Negative Comments in Social Media

Visit our What We Think page to download your free e-book on Negative Comments.

When you open up listening channels, such as social platforms or blog comments, there will come a time when you receive negative comments. It’s inevitable. But you can take steps to minimize the impact — and even turn a negative comment into a positive impression for your hospital.

But some hospitals are avoiding conversations in social media out of fear of negative comments. If that’s keeping you from engaging in social media, take a moment to remember the rewards.

Nearly a thousand U.S. hospitals are hosting blogs and Facebook pages that allow negative comments. According to a survey of U.S. hospital Facebook pages, only about 2% of comments on hospital pages are negative.

Those negative comments, however, are valuable. A decade ago, when your patients had a negative experience they would tell 10 or 15 of their friends or family members. Today, they’re blogging, posting and tweeting to hundreds and thousands. Wouldn’t you rather provide an opportunity for them to tell you so that you can do something about it?

Don’t let the fear of negative comments keep you from enjoying the rich rewards available to hospitals participating in social media. A few important steps will help you handle negative comments successfully.

#1 Adjust your listening attitude.

If you can view negative comments as a way to gain insight into a segment of your community population, then you will grow to value them instead of dread them.

Granted, some of the expressions may not be in the tone or language that you would like to see associated with your hospital, but it’s key to remember how valuable this information is and approach it as an opportunity for correcting misinformation or to gain insight on ways to improve service.

It’s important to communicate this approach to your staff. Having a thick skin helps, along with reminders not to take the comments personally or respond personally – but view them for what they are – customer perceptions. Think of it as an opportunity to clear things up with a lot of people at once.

#2 Monitor the conversation – and respond quickly.

Before you are able to fashion a response, you need to be aware that the comments exist. If an unhappy patient blogs about the extreme wait times in the ER on Friday night…and several other community members join in the flame throwing…you don’t want to wait until Monday morning to respond.

By responding quickly, you have the ability to stop much of the firestorm.

There are several options for monitoring that range in price and sophistication. Some tools are free; others are fee-based. Whichever you choose, just be sure to monitor the conversation.

#3 Don’t jump the gun. Follow these guidelines.

When you receive a critical comment, don’t react. Take a deep breath and keep these important guidelines in mind.

Respond on the same channel first. In your quest to communicate about the problem, it is important that you do it in the same venue where the comment originated. If it’s a tweet, respond first on Twitter. If it’s a post on Facebook, respond on Facebook. If the problem is YouTube, your response belongs there, as well.

Be honest. Don’t promise more than you can deliver and make sure that you don’t appear to be covering up a problem.

Take the high road. Don’t adopt the tone of your attacker. When you respond in a relaxed, calm way you’ll build sympathy with your followers. You’re not going to win anyone over by belittling or being sarcastic or dismissive.

Don’t get defensive. There have been times when our clients have read anonymous negative comments and the staff knew who wrote them. They knew the comment was misinformed, and wanted to defend themselves. Wisely, they took a deep breath.

Tread with caution. If you get into a “fact correction” mode, you will lose. You can’t disclose patient details, and they can, whether true or not. Instead, highlight the hospital’s concern and emphasize positive steps you are taking. This can go a long way, especially for those readers who are not directly involved with the situation.

Have conversations, not arguments. An angry patient is an invested patient. He wouldn’t have taken the time to comment if he didn’t care.  Try asking questions about his complaint, rather than telling him he’s wrong.  Show a little empathy. If you can show that you take concerns seriously and find ways to prove it, then you’ve rewarded his concern for your hospital. Do it right and he’ll feel better about you than ever.

Say what you can. Even if you can’t access the facts immediately, a response like: “I am sorry you experienced such a long wait at the ER tonight. I know Dr. Sue Jones would like to hear from you. She’s been working to try and alleviate wait times, but obviously the steps they’ve put in place failed you on Friday night. You can contact her directly by calling 555.1212 or emailing her at Sue_Jones@yourhospital.com.” Even though very little information was given out, knowing that there is someone listening and responding can make a big difference.

#4 Avoid the urge to purge.

Don’t delete negative comments. That will just anger the person who made the comments more and give the impression that the hospital is uncaring. There is also the likelihood that she will take her negative comments about you elsewhere.

In rare cases, however, some comments should be deleted. For example, Swedish Medical Center in Seattle “reserves the sole right to review, edit and/or delete any comments it deems are inappropriate” and lists the following options:

  • Edit comments for content
  • Remove off-topic contributions
  • Delete offensive comments and attacks
  • Block offensive contributors
  • Delete spam and suspected spam
  • Remove comments that violate the privacy of patients and their families

You’ll notice that a whole range of negative comments is not listed above. Simply because you are embarrassed or unhappy about negative comments is not reason enough to delete them. Doing so will only hurt your hospital’s credibility.

#5 Invite a private meeting.

Always invite the person to call or meet personally with the person who can help her fix her problem. This demonstrates that the hospital is willing to give “face-time” to people who have concerns. Taking the conversation private makes most people more reasonable, since they’re no longer playing to the crowd.

Handling disagreements well is a visible way to show that you really care about your patients.

#6 Require commenters to register to comment using their own names.

Studies indicate that people act more civil online if they must register before commenting, so build a simple “we want to hear you” registration mechanism into your site. This gives an opportunity for those who really want to engage in conversation to do so and dissuades the trolls and flame throwers from participating unless they have a legitimate concern.

Summary

When your hospital adopts social media tools, plan to use them as “conversations.” You’ll have the opportunity to be both speaker and listener. And, just as in face-to-face conversations, most exchanges are pleasant. But don’t expect that every one will be.

Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to building stronger, more meaningful relationships with your patients, their families and your community.

___________________________________________________________

For a more detailed explanation on this subject, visit our What We Think page to download the free e-book titled “Responding to Negative Comments in Social Media.” We have also created a useful infographic titled “Negative Comments in Social Media – How to Take Action” that you can download here.

3 replies
  1. 2010年7月8日、スイス布拉苏糸村――スイスタブ業の伝統的な休日で、多芸多才の音楽巨擘クインシージョーンズ(Quincyジョーンズ)オーデマピゲ表グループCEOの莫菲利(フィリップ・Merk)
    2010年7月8日、スイス布拉苏糸村――スイスタブ業の伝統的な休日で、多芸多才の音楽巨擘クインシージョーンズ(Quincyジョーンズ)オーデマピゲ表グループCEOの莫菲利(フィリップ・Merk) says:

    2010年7月8日、スイス布拉苏糸村――スイスタブ業の伝統的な休日で、多芸多才の音楽巨擘クインシージョーンズ(Quincyジョーンズ)オーデマピゲ表グループCEOの莫菲利(フィリップ・Merk)さんの案内でオーデマピゲタブ工場を見学しました。ウブロスーパーコピーこのオーデマピゲ表と縁の深い伝奇音楽人、この度の旅行の経験を発掘したオーデマピゲ表表壇の先駆けとしての深遠なタブの文化、特に見た自分の名前のMILLENARYミレニアムクインシージョーンズ(Quincyジョーンズ)限定腕時計の制作蘊奥。「オーデマピゲ工場、タブ職人たちに見せる好プレー印象が殘って。彼らは偉大な創造者、激情あふれるアーティスト、ちょうど私が音楽プロデューサーとしてサービスのあれらの才能豊かな人。」クインシージョーンズ(Quincyジョーンズ)は音楽史の上で影響力の裕福な伝説の人物は依然としてを提唱し、ポップスの普及発展に力を入れる。元トランペットのクインシージョーンズ、後に従事し、指揮、続々とアレンジ音楽レコード制作などの仕事。カルティエ時計コピープロデューサーの間で出版された数十枚ジャズミュージシャンのアルバムを務めるレコード、フランク・辛納屈(Frank Sinatra)、バーバラ・史翠珊(Barbara Streisand)、汤尼•クラスナイト(Tony Bennett)などの国際スターのプロデューサー。1978年、クインシージョーンズとマイケル・ジャクソン(MichaelJackson)と出会い、彼のために制作した『塀の外」や「戦慄」、「速い」など3枚のアルバムにレコード。こちらの達人生花の天才編曲家と慧眼識英雄の音楽伯楽は、常にその鋭い嗅覚の音楽を生み出し空前絶後の経典金曲。ファンの愛称をQのクインシージョーンズも気前情熱の化身。クインシージョーンズ人道的精神に基づいて救済、かつて人気歌手アメリカ召集46位を行いの「Weアレthe World四海一家》専輯レコードは美しい。オメガコピー彼は一人で創設のクインシージョーンズ基金会は保護児童権益を守るために努力することを目的とし、全世界の子どもの福祉、健康と尊厳。オーデマピゲ時計工場とこちらは平凡な音楽巨擘協力推進するQ計画。この計画を訴えの政界と社会大衆配慮靑少年の創作表現現し、必要の賛助と協力し、彼らの潜在力を発揮する。 http://www.bagkakaku.com/vuitton_bag/2/N41542.html

    Reply
  2. Dan Hinmon, Principal
    Dan Hinmon, Principal says:

    Thank you Stacy. I’m glad you found this useful. And I’m glad you’re not letting the fear of negative comments keep you from enjoying the wonderful rewards of social media.

    Reply
  3. Stacy Mowery
    Stacy Mowery says:

    Great advice! I am currently working on social media standards for our team. It will include tips and even procedures for handling complaints. While there is never a “one size fits all” solution, these are helpful tips.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *