Sorry Works!

Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

On-Line Empathy: Sorry For Bad Review?

MARCH 14, 2012 NEWSLETTERDoug Wojcieszak, Founder Contact phone/e-mail address: 618-559-8168;

Sorry Works! Idea: On-Line Empathy Social media is out of control: Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, YouTube, etc, etc. Patients and families have so many ways to talk about your hospital or practice -- and usually when they hit the keyboard it is done out of anger. It's a rare day when someone goes out of their way to say or write something, most people need anger to get their creative juices flowing.

In the old days, people might write a letter to the editor, or tell people on the bus that your practice they can establish a Facebook page dedicated solely to making your life a living hell.

What are you going to do?

Get defensive and go toe-to-toe with them, trading on-line barbs? An ol' Mark Twain saying comes to mind: "Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference."

Have your attorney send a nasty "cease and desist letter?" It will only egg them on.

Try this, instead: On-line empathy. Respond on-line by saying you are sorry the patient/family had a bad experience, you want to hear their side of the story, and welcome a phone call from them to schedule a meeting. Look at the Yelp below after a hospital tried on-line empathy:

"I want to start by saying that I originally gave this hospital a horrible review, this is a re-write. Now please take a moment to read why I am re-writing. Our original experience was less than pleasant and I yelped a review. Well this hospital actually reads and CARES! We were contacted by hospital staff to come in and discuss our experience and our concerns were heard and handled in a very professional and upstanding manner. The hospital is looking to improve the ways that the public will be able to communicate with them and improve the quality of care that people are receiving. I give them complete kudos for not only reading but taking an active stand to make necessary improvements!

The bottom line is sometimes we aren't going to get the service or treatment we expect or things get over looked, but when a company comes back and apologizes and makes every effort to make things right with you, that shows character. So take it for what it's worth, this hospital is worth giving a shot especially if you want to be treated like a patient not a paycheck. They get five stars from me for integrity."

Completely defused the situation, and turned a negative into a positive with incredibly valuable PR.

Now, to be fair, this strategy won't work with every patient or family. Yes, there are some truly crazy people out there with an ax to grind, and some names/faces are probably coming to mind as you read this e-newsletter. This won't work for them...probably best to ignore these folks (remember the Mark Twain quote above!) and focus instead on finding ways to generate positive PR.

But for legitimate folks with real complaints, a simple "sorry" and "can we talk?" may defuse a lot of bad on-line publicity and turn a negative situation into a big positive.

To learn more about empathy,, get a copy of the Little Book of Empathy: https://secureserv Individual copies of the booklet sell for $9.99, and can also be purchased in packets of five ($29.99), 10 ($49.99), 25 ($99.99) or 100 copies ($339.99). For larger orders or additional pricing information, call 618-559-8168 or e-mail


- Doug

Doug Wojcieszak, Founder Sorry Works! PO Box 531 Glen Carbon, IL 62034 618-559-8168