How to Respond to Negative Reviews
No dentist likes to get a negative online review from a disgruntled patient. Adverse comments and low ratings can steer prospective patients away from your dental office, no matter how good your services are. That’s why managing your online reputation is crucial to showcase your practice in the best light.
When you come across a bad review about your practice, your initial reaction may be to take the remarks as a personal insult. However, getting upset or angry won’t solve the problem. Here are some ideas on how to respond to negative reviews. They should help you to minimize the effect of potentially damaging criticism and turn the situation into a positive experience for your practice.
1. Don’t Ignore a Negative Review
Ignoring an unfavorable review is a bad idea. It tells people you don’t care about your patients. There’s also another good reason why you should reply to a bad review: the unhappy patient wants to have their say, and if you show them you’re willing to try to resolve their problem, that may be enough to appease them.
Responding to a negative review will set you apart from competitors who don’t pay attention to reviews. It reinforces the message that you have the best interests of your patients at heart.
2. Stay Calm
When you come across a bad review of your practice, you should take a deep breath and stay calm. Don’t rush in like a bull in a china shop. Think things through carefully.
In dealing with a patient who’s reporting they had a bad experience at your dental office, it helps if you have a set of standard responses. These can assist in giving you a starting point for your reply, but you also need to address the specific concerns of the individual by customizing your response.
3. Fix Any Problems
While it’s important to respond to a negative review, you also need to fix any genuine problems raised by the reviewer. This may entail asking the patient to call you or drop by your office so you can discuss the issue. This will show the individual – and prospective new patients – that you’re willing to go the extra mile to resolve any concerns your patients may have.
Bear in mind that when you reply to a review online, your response is available for all to see. So don’t get involved in a fight with the patient. Instead, when getting down to the nitty-gritty of the issue, take the conversation offline. Even if the patient doesn’t get in touch with you, you’ve shown people who saw the review discussion that you were willing to make an effort to rectify the situation. This can go a long way in establishing trust with potential patients.
A negative review can give you the opportunity to gain insight into ways to improve how your practice operates. If you carefully evaluate what the dissatisfied patient is saying, you may find there are bigger issues you need to work on.
4. Get More Good Reviews
One way to minimize the effect of adverse reviews is to get more positive comments from your patients. When it comes to patient reviews, the best defense really is a good offense!
To diminish the impact of negative reviews, encourage your happy patients to post reviews and make it easy for them (Ask us about how we can help with this). Point them toward review sites like those run by Google, Yelp and Facebook.
(Avoid services such as Lighthouse 360, Revenue Well, Demand Force, etc. that have their own proprietary review platform as these reviews are worth much less to your practice than a Google, Facebook, or Yelp review)
Studies have shown that almost 70 per cent of consumers will leave a review when asked to do so, and more than 80 per cent of people trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation.
Urge your team to ask patients for reviews of your practice, and, if your practice uses an after-appointment follow-up message service, make sure you request their feedback.
A further advantage of encouraging ongoing reviews is that prospective patients put more trust in recent postings. Over 70 per cent of consumers ignore reviews more than 90 days old.
We All Make Mistakes!
Even the best dental practices can make the odd mistake, and the occasional negative review is inevitable. If you believe a reviewer has a valid point – as opposed to simply venting their frustrations because they’re having a bad day in general – it’s OK to apologize and explain how you’ll avoid similar issues arising in the future.
Once you’ve fixed a problem to the patient’s satisfaction, ask them to amend their review or remove it. If you get a bad review on your Google My Business (GMB) profile, you may be able to get it removed if it violates Google’s policies by being off topic or containing offensive language or a personal attack.
Monitor Your Reviews
Patients who feel they’re not being heard can use a negative review as retribution. You can minimize bad reviews by listening carefully to your patients in the first place and having open lines of communication with them.
You won’t be able to respond to a negative review if you don’t see it. This is why it’s imperative to monitor the reviews you get. Having an effective online review strategy also gives you an overview of how patients perceive your practice.
Don’t panic when you see a negative online review. Respond by posting a professional reply acknowledging the patient’s concerns and indicating that you will be contacting them personally to discuss their concerns one-to-one. If the ensuing conversation goes well, the reviewer may agree to edit or remove the negative review. If not, at least potential patients will have seen that you take your patients’ concerns seriously.
When responding to a bad review, consider getting a second opinion on your reply, preferably from someone neutral. Ask them to check your response to ensure it will get the right message across in the right tone.
Responding to reviews is more important than ever for local businesses like dental offices. A 2017 survey found that nearly all consumers looked online for local businesses, with 30 per cent regarding review responses as crucial when evaluating a local business.
Having a team of reputation management experts on your side is also highly recommended and that is where we come in! Give us a call today to see how we can help your practice improve your online presence.