Social Media in Healthcare: How to Deal with Negative Comments

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social-media-healthcareAre you a UK private hospital?

Are you worried about using social media because of negative comments?

This is a very common fear, many private hospitals I speak to know they should be active on social media but they are afraid of negative comments.

Believe it or not when it comes to social media in healthcare negative comments are not all that common, however many healthcare providers think that they will be bombarded with negative comments as soon as they create a Twitter page.

In all the time I have been managing Stargazer’s social media I can only recall one negative comment.

According to a recent study by the BMJ Quality and Safety Journal that examined over 200,000 tweets sent to NHS hospitals over a year, 70% that were positive.

How to deal with negative comments

You will always receive some negative comments no matter what. However if you create a service people love then  this means you may well get a lot less negative comments.

If someone does make a comment you think is negative do not ignore it as people want to know that their problems are being listen to and valued. Even if it is just to inform them you are looking into it and are very sorry that they have had that experience.

This is also true of email communication don’t let a patient wait until you have looked into the problem, let them know straight away that you are dealing with it and give them a timeframe when you will get back to them.

If it is on Twitter ask them to follow you if they haven’t done so already. This is so you can send them a private message to get more information.

You need to deal with negative comments quickly.

Move people off the social network as quickly as possible and continue the conversation privately. Get their email address or phone number.

This puts you in control of the conversation, what they say about you on social media is public so move them to an area that you can control.

If you don’t people may create their own space, perhaps a Facebook page or a forum.  You have no control over what they say about you in their posts.

Always make them feel valued, even though you may think you haven’t done anything wrong, the opinion of your patients are vitally important and their happiness should be your primary goal.

Don’t make them jump through hoops to make a complaint, make it as easy for them as possible. Once the issue is resolved ask them if they would like to go back onto the social network and comment about the experience.

People understand that mistakes happen, it is only human and your private hospital is no different –  it is how you deal with these mistakes that people care about.

How to find negative commenters

If you are a large hospital and have a lot of social activity then sometimes it can be difficult to sort out the noise and focus in on negativity.

There are many software solutions out there that can help, one that I love is HubSpot’s social inbox. For example, you can create a stream that contains only patients that you can monitor, that way you can listen out for negative comments.

You can also set up Google alerts to send you an email every time your brand is mentioned around the web. This free tool can be a very effective way to listen to what people are saying.

The downside of Google alerts is that it is limited to the web and won’t monitor social media. Still a great tool never the less.

Twitter and HubSpot’s social inbox allows you to save searches so you can do a search for your brand and then monitor mentions of your brand over time instantly as they appear.

How to avoid negative comments

The best way to eliminate or at least reduce negative comments is to create great experiences for your patients. It all starts with this so delight them.

This is not only limited to the services you offer it is also in how you deal with after care and complaints.

Spend time listening to your patients and understand what they like and dislike about your hospital and improve where you can.

Key takeaways

Believe it or not patients who complain are your best customers. They care enough to tell you what is wrong and without their feedback you can’t improve.

Set up a way to monitor social activity and react quickly and move the conversation to an area that you control and make sure you ask them to Tweet about their experience.

Sometimes an unhappy patient who has been turned into a happy one can become your best brand advocate.

So don’t have nightmares about social media, join in the conversation because being silent is the worst thing you can do.

If you would like to learn more about customer satisfaction read my post “Why You Should Measure Customer Satisfaction and Ways to improve it”.

Now it’s your turn

How does your hospital deal with negative comments?

What’s worked for you? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below

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