Reputation is important for all businesses including your dental practice. Prospective patients will likely check online reviews about your practice before making a decision to try you out, and call or schedule an appointment. In fact, research shows that 94% of patients evaluate providers through online reviews, and 72% find a new provider based on them.
Regardless of how professional, experienced, and accommodating you are, at some point you will likely get some bad reviews. Unfortunately, people are more likely to leave a review when they have a complaint. A few bad reviews can have a significant effect on a local business like a dental practice, casting doubts among prospective patients and negatively influencing public perception. Nobody likes bad reviews but they are a fact of the digital age we live in. Don’t let a few critical or even unreasonable reviews stress you out. Instead, respond as calmly as possible, listen to constructive criticism, and do everything you can to accumulate more positive reviews.
How you deal with bad reviews can impact your dental practice as much as the reviews themselves since both are public. Therefore, it is vital that you always respond professionally. Read on to find out the do’s and don’ts of dealing with bad reviews:
What To Do About Bad Reviews:
• Always respond to reviews (even the negative ones)! Keep your response short, professional, calm and polite. Don’t react emotionally or defensively to someone whose review seems irrational. No matter how upsetting a review is, remember that every business makes mistakes and nobody is perfect. Apologize if appropriate, offer to make things right, and ask if you can reach out to them through a different channel.
• Reach out. If you recognize the patient that made a legitimate complaint online, don’t be scared to reach out to them and genuinely inquire how your practice could be improved. Some patients are too shy to complain to your face but will do so behind the veil of anonymity online. When you acknowledge the complaint and show that you are going to address the issue, people are oftentimes willing to remove the bad review when you politely request it. Make sure they feel heard and cared about.
• Report fake reviews. Not every review is legitimate. When you feel that a review is unfair and unfounded, report it as fake to the review site. Internet trolls are a dime a dozen, and you don’t have to accept the unjust attack of a disgruntled person or unethical competitor. Your chance of getting a fake review removed is higher if you can document that the reviewer was never an actual patient. You can also respond to the review by politely writing that you have no record of the alleged exchange.
• Deal with complex issues privately to protect your patient’s privacy. Ask them to contact you by email or phone so that you can resolve the issue. This way you also avoid writing long complicated paragraphs that review site visitors don’t want to read anyways. Or worse yet, creating an online exchange for everyone to see.
What NOT To Do About Bad Reviews:
• Do not deny legitimate criticism. Assess whether your patient has a valid point before you respond. Be professional enough to acknowledge any mistakes. Negative feedback stings but it’s better to admit you’re at fault (if you are) than to argue something untrue.
• Do not get angry or defensive. It’s ok to try and correct a false statement, but don’t get into an online word war with an angry patient. Regardless of how unfair or unfriendly you find a review, reacting aggressively only makes you appear unprofessional and can potentially alienate other prospective patients. Always stay calm and polite, no matter how out of line a reviewer is.
• Do not ignore bad reviews. Disregarding negative reviews suggests that you don’t care about your reputation and no response can make readers conclude that the negative comments are accurate.
Attracting Positive Reviews
To gain prospective patients’ trust, it’s important that you have positive reviews. Having lots of positive reviews can outweigh bad ones and help solidify your good reputation.
Perhaps this is a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning: offering exceptional customer service is vital to attracting positive reviews and can offset any complaints patients might have. When your whole team is committed to serving your patients the best way possible, they are more likely to overlook mistakes.
Encourage patients to provide feedback and reviews, and be proactive about gathering them yourself. You can provide patient surveys and give them a list of review sites. Be sure not to request positive reviews and don’t offer anything in exchange for their reviews. Make sure to highlight any positive reviews you get. You can ask your patients for permission to post their reviews with photos on your social media or physically in your practice. Listen to your patients, gather feedback, and apply improvement suggestions. If you realize that several people complain about the same issue, it’s worth paying attention.
Reviews are incredibly powerful in managing your reputation. The bottom line is, you can’t control what people say about you. No matter what you do, you will probably have to deal with bad reviews at some point. However, if you consistently attract positive reviews, these will eventually outshine the negative ones that you can’t remove.