Take a positive approach to negative reviews

pharmacist and tech at computer

Enhance your pharmacy’s reputation by how you respond on social media

In brief:

  • Online reviews matter, as more than 90% of customers read them.
  • The star ratings associated with those reviews may be more important than the quality measures Star Ratings healthcare payers monitor.1
  • While a negative review online can harm your business, responding quickly and professionally can enhance your reputation.
  • Encourage your delighted customers to leave online reviews.

Before a new customer walks into your pharmacy, that person has probably already checked out your business reputation online.

Importance of online reviews

Even one negative review can dramatically affect your business, turning away 22% of potential customers.2 If a business has four or more bad reviews, up to 70% of consumers will choose to avoid the business.

What can you do?

Guard your pharmacy’s reputation with these actions:

  1. Monitor your business’s online reputation. Set up social sites you use, such as Facebook, to alert you to new reviews or posts that mention your pharmacy. Also create a Google alert to notify you any time your business is mentioned online.

    In addition to well-known review sites such as Yelp, tune in to online conversations for your community, such as a Facebook page where residents often seek recommendations for businesses.

  2. Respond promptly. More than half of people who leave a negative review online expect a response within a week, and 21% expect a response within 24 hours.3

    A fast response by you shows that customer and others who see the comment online that you care. While responding promptly is important, it is also important to respond thoughtfully; don’t rush to write your response. Take time to review the comment carefully and write a calm and professional reply.

  3. Apologize, thank and explain. Even if you don’t agree with everything the person wrote, you can say something like, “I am sorry you had this experience at our pharmacy. I appreciate your letting us know so we can take steps to correct this.”

    If you understand the details you may be able to offer a quick explanation that also highlights what your business does well. For example, “Most of the time we fill walk-in prescriptions within 10 minutes, and we encourage customers to use our refill app and free delivery for even more convenient service. Unfortunately that morning power had been out at our downtown location for 90 minutes, and you arrived while we were still catching up.”

  4. Take the conversation offline. Respond to the person on the channel where the original post was made, so that others see that you are taking action. However, don’t engage in a dialogue with an unhappy customer in a public forum. Thank the person for making you aware of the situation, apologize and ask that person to contact you directly so you can communicate with them directly to resolve the issue. If the review leads you to act, however, make sure you make that public.
  5. Encourage a follow-up. A third of the time when a business responds to a complaint on social media or through an online ratings site, the person either deletes the original post or replaces it with a positive review. When you satisfy someone who previously posted a negative review, ask whether they will update their public impression of your pharmacy.

Encourage positive comments

One or two negative comments won’t matter much if you have dozens of positive reviews. So, be proactive by encouraging delighted customers to post their compliments and positive experiences online.

One survey found 70% of customers will leave a positive review when asked to do so, but nearly a third had never been asked.4 Because consumers also consider how recent reviews are, make it a regular practice for your staff to ask satisfied customers to post positive comments online.

In today’s social media world, if you are merely a spectator, your reputation could be at risk. Manage your pharmacy’s reputation by monitoring comments about your pharmacy, responding quickly and professionally, and encouraging positive posts.

This article is part of our series covering social media. Read our previous article “Social media success in 5 minutes a day” to learn how to boost your pharmacy’s online profile.



1 “50 Stats You Need to Know About Online Reviews,” Khusbu Shrestha, Vendasta, Aug. 29, 2016. LINK
2 “Why Small Businesses Need Positive Online Reviews,” Jennifer Hanford, DashBurst, March 4, 2017. LINK
3 “8 Amazing Examples of Business Owners Responding to Reviews,” Migs Bassig, ReviewTrackers, July 7, 2016. LINK
4 “Local Consumer Review Survey,” BrightLocal, 2016. LINK


Note: The information provided here is for reference use only and does not constitute the rendering of legal or other professional advice by McKesson. Readers should consult appropriate professionals for advice and assistance prior to making important decisions regarding their business. McKesson is not advocating any particular program or approach herein. McKesson is not responsible for, nor will it bear any liability for, the content provided herein.