Why Osteopaths Shouldn’t Want a Perfect 5-star Review Score

Osteopaths and bad reviews. Osteopaths will get a negative online review. It sucks. But don't worry, here's what you need to do.

Please know that while you’re of course welcome to read this blog, the advice goes against AHPRA guidelines. If you’d like AHPRA-safe advice, please contact us for free.


Osteopaths and bad reviews: not if, but when

Collecting online reviews is one of the most powerful things you can do as an osteopath to boost your online credibility. Testimonials provide social proof. A social psychology concept that triggers what’s known as the bandwagon effect. The bandwagon effect states that people are more likely to engage in something if they’ve seen others participating.

Osteopaths and bad reviews are luckily an uncommon pairing. However, osteopaths often worry about getting a negative review. So what should an osteopath do if they check Facebook or Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), only to experience a sudden spike in heart rate while discovering a dreaded 1-star review?

Let’s explain a few factors to consider about getting negative reviews and why it’s not all that bad when you do.

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Don’t stress over maintaining a perfect score

BrightLocal, GatherUp, UberAll, and others have all conducted studies about whether maintaining a 5-star overall impacts customer behaviour. Interestingly, all of these studies found that businesses with a perfect 5.0 rating ended up with fewer conversions or, in our case, patients. They found that a business with many reviews (over 30) with a 4.2-4.6 overall score reflects a trustworthy business and excellent experience.

It makes sense to think that a business with loads of excellent 5-star reviews is a little suspect. Think about it: who do you trust more? A mechanic with 51 reviews with a 5.0 perfect score, or a mechanic with 29 reviews with a 4.8 overall score?

How osteopaths can deal with bad reviews

As a business and clinic owner, I understand. Even the feeling of getting a low score on a negative review is not nice. But that review isn’t going to destroy your business, and it won’t stop patients from booking in with you. In actuality, as long as you’re not getting loads of bad reviews, one negative testimonial now and again isn’t going to influence you or your potential patients. We’d suggest it would help you.

Most people understand that a business will have a few negative reviews. You can’t control when someone is having a bad day and becomes a keyboard warrior or when one of your associates or staff make an honest mistake.

When I spend my money anywhere, I often look at the Google Business Profile reviews, especially when it comes to restaurants. I don’t know about you, but I don’t pay much attention to the 5-star reviews. Instead, I scroll straight to the negative reviews. When reading them, I look for two things. Was the bad review justified? How did the business respond?

On that note, you should be responding to all reviews, positive and negative. I can tell you that people can know whether you genuinely care about the person’s review or not with the language you use and how you approach to rectify the issue. Also, please don’t copy/paste the same response to both positive and negative reviews as it makes it look like you don’t care, and that’s not good.

More often than not, that bad review has turned into a positive billboard for your clinic. Obviously, you’re looking for the vast majority of your reviews to be 4-5 stars, but now you don’t have to check your blood pressure when you get a bad review.

5 ways osteopaths can respond to a negative review

Remember, the response isn’t actually for the person who left the bad review. It’s for everyone who looks at the testimonial, waiting to see how you respond.

  1. Read the review and leave it alone for at least a few hours
  2. Return with a clear mind and positive mental attitude
  3. Thank the person for their review, and apologise
  4. Continue to write a thoughtful response that addresses what happened and offer them to reach out by providing your email or phone number. Getting someone off a keyboard and on the phone is essential. People are a lot more rational on the phone.
  5. Finish your response with something along the lines of ‘we’d be thankful for the opportunity to help in any way we can, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.’

How many reviews do osteopaths need?

92% of people will hesitate to buy something that has no reviews. It makes sense if you think about it: when is the last time you made a purchase or worked with a business without first reading reviews?

But what number of reviews does an osteopath need on their Google Business Profile or Facebook to make a significant impact?

According to MarketWatch, the tipping point is between 20-25 reviews. However, it’s essential not to stop there. You should be getting reviews as often as possible because if you go a few years or even months without one, people may wonder what’s changed. That’s why we recommend not worrying whether someone leaves a fully descriptive review or a simple 4-star well done. Of course, the quality of reviews does feel nice and important to those who read the reviews, but it turns out that people leaving a 4-5 star review with no additional comments are valuable too.

Reviews are essential for all osteopaths

Overall, osteopaths should be striving to get at least 25 high-quality reviews on platforms like Google Business Profile and Facebook as possible. Plenty of high-quality reviews will not only give you a competitive edge over local osteopaths and other manual therapists but a permanent version of word-of-mouth that always works in your favour. However, for osteopaths who are worried about getting bad reviews, don’t. The pros far outweigh the cons, and can in fact, work out in your favour if you approach them correctly.

Written by Alan Zaia M.Ost

Founder & CEO of Osteohustle. You’ll find Alan coaching osteopaths, travelling in a van or writing our weekly newsletter, The Hustle.

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