Handling Negative Online Reviews

A negative online review. It could happen to anyone, anywhere.

Maybe it was a staff member’s stiff, impersonal remarks. Maybe it was that patient who had to wait 2 hours before being seen. Maybe it was that time you did everything right for a patient who was always going to complain, regardless of how well you treated them.

Whatever the cause, a negative review can be death for your practice’s reputation. According to a study released by Cone, 89 percent of consumers say they find online channels trustworthy sources for service reviews. Additionally, 4 out of 5 consumers say they have changed their minds about a purchase based solely on negative information they found online.

The fact of the matter is: when you get a negative review…well, you get a negative review.

You can’t change it. So, what do you do now?

Do you leave it alone and play the “if I ignore it, it will go away” game? Do you fake a few positive reviews to bury it? Do you blame the reviewer in hopes of gaining credibility?

No, no, and…heck no

Getting a negative review is a part of being a business and while it can be extremely destructive for your reputation and overall success, how your dental practice responds to a negative review can quickly turn the situation around.

As a dental marketing firm, we are old pros in reputation management for dentists and will offer you 4 tips to remember when you get a negative online review.

Reputation Management for Dentists: 4 To-Do’s

 1. Respond Quickly

When you find a negative review, now is the time to buckle down and think about how to handle this.

But don’t think too long. And for the love of your business, DO NOT ignore it.

Responding quickly to a negative review can show the reviewer and others watching that their experience is your priority; that you care about the issue at hand. It is also the best way to stop the negativity dead in its tracks. Squash the issue before it gets out of hand with a quick response.

With that being said, have a plan. Don’t rush in without knowing how you will turn the situation around. Actually listen to the complaint and offer an apology, service, or discount accordingly. Make your response sincere in its length, apology, and solution.

 2. Don’t play the blame game.

Yeah, you got a negative review. And maybe it hurts a little. Reviewers can be downright mean. However, pointing fingers, getting defensive, and blaming the reviewer is possibly the worst thing you can do when responding. It shows poor character, zero credibility, and will most likely end up validating the negative review.

This blog post shows you an example of both good and bad reactions to negative reviews. Note how you feel about each business after reading their responses to bad customer reviews. Remember, don’t lose your cool when faced with a nasty review. In fact, the more sincere and calm you are, the better and more credible you look to others and the more likely they will pick your practice.

 3. DON’T fake it ‘til you make it.

A lot of businesses are guilty of creating fake, positive reviews of their products or services. This is not only unethical; it can become a huge embarrassment if you are caught. For example, if a review looks phony, Yelp won’t hesitate to slap a “consumer alert” on your page to warn consumers that you were caught “red-handed” faking reviews. Often, this can be just as detrimental as sporting a negative review. So, don’t bother.

Instead, actively pursue positive reviews by offering satisfied patients a card directing them to review sites to allow them to share their experience. You can even elicit “reviews” in the form of simple satisfaction surveys and offer a discounted service in return for their time. This is what we call being proactive, which brings us to our last point…

4. Be Proactive.

If you’ve ever read a really nasty review, it’s usually obvious that the reviewer is venting and possibly just wants attention. By giving your patients the opportunity to share thoughts and feedback immediately after an appointment or service, you control the amount of negative “verbal vomit” that may end up online somewhere otherwise.

An even better approach is to give your patients an anonymous outlet to express dissatisfaction. Set up an automated patient satisfaction survey to be emailed to the patient immediately after their visit. You’ll be surprised at how much damage control this provides. Additionally, when you find positive, glowing reviews of your practice, you can post those to your website or to online review sites.

As a dental practice, your name within your community means everything. Preserving, monitoring, and building your reputation can affect your bottom line. That’s why handling negative online reviews is crucial. If you need help responding to negative reviews, Dentist Identity is experienced in reputation management for dentists! In fact, we can set up alerts to help you monitor reviews of your practice. As a part of our new 2014 packages, we not only monitor but also build your online reputation for you. We help you respond to negative reviews and we do the work to gather positive ones. For more information on how we can monitor, save, and develop your social reputation, call us at 1-800-303-6029!

Photo Credit: Flickr by andeecollard, cropped

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