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Turning Negative Pharmacy Reviews into Five-Star Opportunities

By Marian Adams

Responding promptly and personably to a negative review gives you the chance to show your community just how much you care about your customers.
A woman giving a business a star rating on her phone

Gone are the days when negative feedback for a business was confined to a private customer service line. Now, if someone has a bad experience in a store, restaurant, hotel or doggy daycare, the whole world knows about it thanks to Yelp, Facebook and Google.

As local business owners with close ties to their community, independent pharmacists can be deeply affected by negative reviews. Not only is it bad for your pharmacy team’s morale, but it can be devastating to a pharmacy’s online reputation, especially if they only have a limited number of reviews.

This type of social proof is often the first thing people seek out when they’re looking for more information about a business. In fact, 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses, and it jumps up to 95 percent for people who are 18-34 years old. Moreover, consumers need to read an average of 10 online reviews before they feel like they can trust a local business.1

There’s no denying that the number of gold stars sitting next to your pharmacy’s name in search results will leave a lasting impression. So what should you do when your pharmacy receives a negative review?

Respond promptly and personably

It can be very tempting to fight bad reviews when they appear, whether that’s by denying any wrongdoing, jumping on the offensive or trying to get the review deleted. But don’t be defensive; all these reactions will only have negative consequences. The best thing you can do is stay calm and face it head on as quickly as possible so it doesn’t go viral.

First, you’ll want to address the reviewer by name, reiterate the issue and show genuine compassion for their negative experience, as if they were a good friend of yours. This will show you’re really listening and not just pasting in a canned response. The more human you can be, the better.

Next, take responsibility, offer transparency around the issue and provide clarity as to how you’re going to make it right. This is your chance to be a problem solver and flex your relationship-building skills. If it was a customer service issue, you can explain how you’re going to address it with your staff and ensure the reviewer will have a better patient experience the next time they return to your store. If the issue was around pricing, encourage them to either call or visit the pharmacy so you can speak with them privately about the issue. Whatever the resolution is, make sure it’s clearly on display so everyone who reads your response can see the level of personalized service they can expect from your pharmacy.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, a negative pharmacy review sets the stage for you to prove how much you value your patients—even the grumpy ones. Your response carries more weight than the review itself, so it’s important to view this as an opportunity rather than a threat to your pharmacy. The reviewer and every person who reads their criticism and your reply will feel better about your business when they see you putting in the effort to resolve their issue. And, in many cases, the reviewer will update or remove their negative review if their issue is successfully resolved.

Be proactive

It’s easy to get bogged down in damage control, but keep in mind that managing your online reputation is more than just reacting to harmful feedback. Responding to positive reviews is just as important as responding to negative reviews. While the latter helps you put your personalized service on display as you actively resolve customer issues, showing heartfelt appreciation for your biggest fans will increase your trustworthiness and likability within your community.

Responding to reviews—both positive and negative—also has a powerful impact on your ranking in Google search results. Google ranks businesses based in part on the nature and volume of reviews they receive, as well as the consistency of replies from the business. That means responding to patients on review platforms can increase your visibility in search engines and improve your pharmacy ratings at the same time.

Naturally, the more reviews that are available for you to respond to, the more opportunities you’ll have to develop your online reputation, so don’t be afraid to ask your patients to submit a review for your pharmacy. Post it on Facebook, put up signs in your store and offer polite reminders at checkout. This might feel like an uncomfortable request to make, but most satisfied customers are happy to give your local business a good review. Positive experiences can be a powerful thing!

You’re creating meaningful connections with your patients every day, and you deserve to have that positivity shining in the spotlight online. Once you start converting a higher percentage of those outstanding interactions to online reviews, any low-star ratings you’ve received will sink down to the bottom of the feed where they belong.

Can’t keep track of all the reviews being written about your pharmacy?

All Good Neighbor Pharmacy Premier members get access to our online reputation management platform, which shows you all your pharmacy’s reviews from Yelp, Facebook and Google on one simple dashboard. You can see your average star ratings on each website, track review sentiment at a glance and, most importantly, respond to every review without ever leaving the platform!
People browsing the internet on their phones
1. BrightLocal. Local Consumer Review Survey.

About The Author

Marian Adams
Director of Field Advertising
Good Neighbor Pharmacy
View Bio