Online reviews are becoming extremely important for consumers when choosing a dental office. How you manage these reviews can make the difference between someone choosing you and your competitor.
Once you start encouraging patients to give you reviews, you are going to find out that occasionally you might get a review that is not so great. This is completely normal and can even be a good thing if there are not too many depending on how you handle the response.
Let’s start with how to handle your positive reviews.
What?! You mean you need to respond to positive reviews too? Yes, it is just as important to respond to a positive review as a negative one. Here is what to do:
- Thank your patient for the review. Respond in a way that shows you truly care about them as a patient. Reply publicly so not only does your patient see the review but so do future patients. This shows you are engaged with your patients even after a visit.
- In your response make sure to mention your practice name. Search engines use reviews in their rankings so getting your name out there more often can help. Every once in a while, sneak a keyword or two in there for added search engine juice. “We really appreciate you choosing ABC Dental Care as your Mytown Dentist. We look forward to seeing you again soon!”
- If your local association allows, give them a reason to come back. “We look forward to seeing you again soon!” is great but if you can offer them additional services or limited time offers this is a good place to do it.
What if the review is not so good?
We all know that mistakes are going to happen and a patient that has a bad experience is more likely to want to tell the world about it than a positive one. The first thing to do is have a system in place that patients feel they can communicate that experience back to you before they go public with it. This can ward off at least some of the bad reviews. When the bad reviews do show up here is what you do:
- Admit you messed up. Even if you feel it wasn’t your fault accepting responsibility goes a long way with diffusing the situation and making the patient feel validated. This also helps prospective patients get to know your “practice’s personality” or character.
- Emphasize that this isn’t normal for your practice. It is important to let them know (and other potential patents) this is not how things usually work.
- Offer to fix the problem. Then take the conversation offline. Let the customer (and everyone else) know you will be taking care of them without hashing out the details for all to see. “I am truly sorry for your bad experience and we would like to make it up to you. Please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can resolve this together?”
- Do not delete a bad review. Even thought it might be tempting to just delete any bad reviews or discredit the patient by denying it is true, this isn’t a good idea. First, negative reviews are important for your brand. They show you are real and are not just filtering out bad reviews. Second, denying what a patient is saying will likely backfire and blow up in your face. This usually causes more damage than the bad review in the first place.
How to handle False or Fake Reviews
What if a review is a disgruntled ex-employee just trying to hurt your business or someone who was never your patient that is just plain telling lies about you and your practice? Sometimes it is even a competitor without scruples just trying to bring you down. Whatever the source it is important to proceed with caution.
- Don’t ignore false reviews. If this is someone trying to give your reputation a black mark, the longer you wait the more likely you will have many more of these reviews to deal with. Start gathering any evidence you can that these reviews are not legitimate immediately.
- Do your research. It is normal for you to make the assumption that a scathing review is false but know for sure before you respond. Take the time research thoroughly to ensure you are dealing with a fake review.
You can often identify a fake review by the profile of the reviewer. Is it weak? Has the same profile left a glowing review for your competition? Other questions to ask about the review: Is the review overtly vicious? Do they use a lot of terms that would be common for a person in the dental industry but not the general public?
- Respond appropriately. When you see a review that makes you angry the immediate reaction is to respond in a way that is not professional. Show restraint in the tone of your response. Help other prospective patients side with you as a result of your high level of patient commitment and professionalism. Do not use profanity or threats in your response.
- Flag the review. Once you are sure the review is false you should flag it. Most review sites use some kind of system to allow businesses to escalate this type of review. If you do this be prepared to present your case. A well-presented argument may result in the removal of the false review.
- Don’t try to get revenge. Yes, you are probably very angry but taking revenge can get you in a lot of trouble. Don’t do it! Realize that if you have a strong patient base that a consistent flow of positive reviews will push any negative reviews that might be making you look bad. Don’t stoop to the level of the perpetrator.
The best way to ensure your online brand remains strong is to keep the positive reviews flowing. Educate your staff to ask for reviews, send emails and texts to your patients asking for reviews and as always provide exceptional service that people can’t help but tell everyone about!