Reputation Management for Plastic Surgeons and Jeffrey Segal MD

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Reputation Management for Plastic Surgeons

Reputation management for plastic surgeons is a critical aspect of their practice success, more so than other businesses because their patients are seeking cosmetic enhancements that are altering their physical appearance permanently …. That’s a big deal!

Importance of Reputation Management for Plastic Surgeons

But online reviews are such a double-edged sword. You want the good ones and dread or fight the bad ones. The bad ones can range from “I waited too long” or “the staff was rude”, but can escalate to “I was butchered”. 

It really is unfair that consumer patients can say anything they want online for the world to hear, but it is a reality for you to deal with in this industry.

Prospective cosmetic patients need proof that you are a good choice, and they will NOT regret their decision. They want to see lots of great reviews and before/after photos of other patients who have gone before them. 

However, a negative online reputation can have significant consequences for your practice.

While you should consult with lawyers who specialize in this subject, here are strategies to help you take back control of your online reputation, so it stays positive.

Identify Problem Patients Early

Reputation Management for Plastic Surgeons

So often, you or your staff had a funny feeling about a patient but ignored it because you thought you could handle it, or you were having a slow month. Listen to your gut and be aware of a potential problem patient who is:

  • Badmouthing other surgeons
  • Loves you but is rude to your staff
  • Doesn’t listen
  • Won’t follow protocol
  • Drama driven
  • On meds for anxiety or depression

If they are a hassle before surgery, how are they going to be after surgery, especially if they get an infection or aren’t thrilled with their result?

Money is such a heated discussion for you and the patient. You want your fair share, and the patient wants what they paid for so common money discrepancies can include:

Money Issues

Money is such a heated discussion for you and the patient. You want your fair share, and the patient wants what they paid for so common money discrepancies can include:

  • Patient put down $1K deposit, changed their mind and wants their money back
  • Patients had to cancel surgery one week before because of unforeseen personal issues
  • You charged the patient extra OR added anesthesia fees because you went over the time you estimated (The patient is wondering why that is THEIR problem?)

My advice is to be flexible. Most of the time, it’s just easier and cheaper to refund them than to deal with their bad review online that keeps popping up. Chalk it up to the cost of doing business and move on.

Respond to All Reviews

Since online reviews and feedback can significantly impact a plastic surgeon’s reputation, monitor your online reviews regularly.  Responding to complaints shows that the surgeon cares about their patients and is willing to resolve any issues. Ignoring negative feedback can lead to a poor online reputation and potential loss of revenues.

Thank the patients who said nice things and encourage them to spread the word about your practice. When responding to negative reviews, address the issue professionally and offer to resolve the problem. Just be sure you are NOT revealing any private health information about the patient.

Here are examples of responses to a negative review about results and money:

“Most of our patients are delighted with their outcome. We wish all were. Still, for those who are dissatisfied, we will offer to perform a revision within a reasonable time frame where we waive our professional fee.”

“While 99% of our patients are happy with their results, 1% are dissatisfied, so we do all we can to correct the situation since we want happy patients. We have not been able to reach you, so please call us so we can address the issue.”

“Our office discusses financial matters with patients upfront to make sure there are no surprises. Our process: We document in writing what we plan to do and when. We then provide a quote that the patient signs before we proceed. Still any patient with a question should contact us. We want satisfied patients.”

Listen and Learn from the Feedback

Not all negative feedback is from crazy patients. Some of their criticism is legitimate and could have been avoided. Oftentimes, they tried to tell you, but you ignored them or didn’t listen, so they went online to complain instead. 

reputation Management for Plastic surgeons

Here’s what I suggest doing … When you do get a bad review, get together as a team and read it out loud. Now brainstorm ideas for how that could have been avoided, how you could improve your processes and what, if anything, you can do now to rectify the situation. Sometimes, a personal call from the surgeon apologizing and fixing it, compels the patient to take it down. Just saying…

Establish a Referral/Loyalty Program

Your best defense is an awesome offense. Drown out the few negative comments with an abundance of positive so your overall rating is high in spite of it. For example:

If you only have only (3) reviews and 2 are 5-star and 1 is 1 star, your rating is 3.7

But if you have (20) 5-star reviews and 1 is 1 star, your rating is 4.8 so its diluted.

Happy and satisfied patients who like you, are your best source of new patients. They give you the best reviews, refer their friends, talk you up on social media to their followers and return for more. You escalate all of that good mojo with a referral/loyalty program that compels your patients to grow your practice and reputation organically and ethically.

Conclusion

Reputation management is a critical aspect of a plastic surgeon’s practice and not to be taken lightly.  Identifying problem patients, handling money discrepancies, responding to all reviews, learning from feedback, and establishing a referral/loyalty program are all essential elements to manage a plastic surgeon’s reputation effectively. Please make this a priority. Your livelihood depends on it.

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