Research shows 94% of patients evaluate providers using online reviews, and 72% use it to find a new provider. Even if most of your reviews are positive, just a few negative comments can sow seeds of doubt among prospective patients, and, let’s face it, they personally sting. How you deal with bad reviews on reputation and social media can impact your business as much as the reviews themselves.
Is the Bad Review Real?
The first type of poor review can be totally illegitimate. How do you recognize it? There is usually outsized anger in its tone; it may be nonsensical or feature personal attacks; it aims to hurt instead of offering anything constructive. In working with many dental clients over the years, I have learned this type of bad review may not even come from an actual patient. It may be a disgruntled ex-employee behind the keyboard, a competitor, or a former patient who is dealing with underlying issues.
What should you do? First, don’t let it ruin your day, as hard as that may be. Evaluate where it came from. Decide whether you can contest the review and have it removed from the site. That, of course, will depend on the site; some are more difficult than others. If the review contains hate speech or is blatantly false, it may be worth contacting the site.
Should You Respond to Illegitimate Reviews?
That depends on your tolerance for confrontation and what is said. There is nothing wrong with trying to correct a false statement – of course you sanitize your equipment! – but drawing a sword against irrational comments and ad hominem attacks is probably futile and may further encourage the reviewer.
When Good Patients Leave Bad Reviews
What if an actual patient puts a legitimate complaint on blast? A real patient may be shy about telling you something in person but finds courage behind the keyboard. Acknowledge the complaint and decide whether it has merit. If you know who the reviewer is, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Inquire with genuine concern, promise to address the issue (and follow through), and then politely request that they remove the review or amend it with a follow-up. You would be surprised how many reviewers will comply; often, they just want to be heard.
Remember You Are Not Alone
You can be the kindest provider in the world with the most helpful and accommodating staff and hundreds of loyal patients – and still get a few bad reviews. It seems unfair but it happens to just about everyone at some point. If you are the target, take a few deep breaths and remember this is a moment in time. If you are the office manager, just be there and provide support for the provider.
Solicit Positive Reviews
Make sure the good outweighs the bad. Get into the habit of asking satisfied patients to provide reviews and be proactive in gathering them yourself. Solicit kudos via text, social media, or postcards. With written permission, post short reviews with photos or create video testimonials during follow-up appointments. These are enormously powerful reputation management tools that will overwhelm and “push down” negative reviews you can’t remove. Give your satisfied patients a list of review sites on which to share their positive experiences. Above all, lean back on your good reputation and ramp up a program that keeps positive patient experiences in the spotlight.
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