Like it or loathe it, consumers have become programmed to check reviews before they go, buy, or choose when it comes to products and services. Negative reviews posted about businesses can have a major affect on their success, as more consumers rely on ratings and reviews to select everything from restaurants to doctors. In the digital world, consumers are inclined to speak their minds and share their opinions about your practice, whether they are fair or not. Unfortunately, unhappy customers tend to be the most vocal.

Truthfully, it’s almost impossible to have 100% happy customers. Ratings sites and social media platforms have become the logical place for customers to vent and air their grievances. They are the first place unsatisfied customers turn to to express themselves and occasionally use these platforms as a weapon.

No matter how good your business, you are bound to get some snide remarks about your pricing, or complaints about your approach or attitude at some point. It’s almost impossible not to, especially if you have a busy business. The more customers you have, the more likely it is to leave someone unsatisfied.

You should be keeping tabs of online critiques leveled against your reputation. Setting a Google alert and monitoring review sites occasionally can help you monitor what is said about you. It can be difficult to stay calm when you read what people are writing about you online. The worst possible thing you can do is to react in a defensively or aggressively manner. You need to maintain a calm, rational, and reasonable approach at all times, even when the customer writes something unreasonable.Keeping emotions out of it will help you react logically and appropriately. If you are going to respond, it should be something straightforward like this, “Thank you for expressing your concerns. If you would be so kind as to contact us directly, we would be happy to discuss this with you further. Customer satisfaction is our number one goal.” Don’t be defensive, which can be misconstrued by readers as arrogance.

If you are the victim of negative comments, read the Terms of Service on the site with a fine-toothed comb. If the poster has violated the terms even slightly, you may have recourse to get the post removed.

The best way to avoid negativity is to not create any reason for having it in the first place. But this is nearly impossible anymore. The second best way to counter negative ratings is to make sure they are buried under a slew of positive ratings from real satisfied patients who are your advocates. There is no shame in that. Ask your satisfied customers to express how they feel about your business in a review. Getting enough positive reviews by real customers will outweigh a few negative ones, so be vigilant about garnering good will with customers.