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Bad Press Part IV – How to Deal with Negative Online Reviews

  • Date: December 21, 2012
  • Author: eDentalImage
  • Comments: 0

Like it or not, you’re probably going to get a bad online review at some point. This is understandable, just by sheer statistics. Potential dental patients reading will understand- every practice with enough reviews features a few complaints, but it’s how you deal with the bad review that will determine whether the potential patients decide to come in for an appointment or keep looking.

What’s the most important thing to do when you receive a bad review?

 Improve Your Patient Experience

As a professional in the field of dentistry, you know that people aren’t exactly lining up outside your office to schedule a dental appointment. What you can do is make sure that patients are well taken care of and very comfortable- even if it’s only every 6 months, dental work is no fun.

Make your patients’ appointments as comfortable as possible. One way to do this is to make sure the office isn’t too cold- this is one of the most common complaints, and being cold can prime them for further negative reactions. Some dental practices even go so far as to give patients MP3 players to listen to while they get their cleanings and procedures done. Go out of your way to make them feel comfortable and your efforts definitely won’t go unnoticed.

The same applies to children, especially the high number of teens getting orthodontics. This generation of kids is more wired than ever before- and they can write a bad review just as easily (or easier!) than many of your adult patients. Empathize with your younger patients as well, and try to do what you can to minimize the pain and discomfort of routine orthodontic procedures.

 Cultivate 5 Star Customer Service

Many reviews tend to be customer service related, and this is an area that anyone can improve on.

Friendly, courteous and accommodating service is key- especially with new patients. You can never be sure of how each individual patient will think about the specific products and services you provide- but everyone expects fast, friendly patient service. If new patients don’t have a good experience in this area, they will likely not want to come back- and they may even decide to write a review about it online.

You may have a specific employee in the office that’s not really rude or unfriendly, but can come off that way to patients who don’t know him or her. If there’s someone like this in your office, it won’t be long before you hear about it in a review- if you haven’t already. It’s important to show employees like this know that you appreciate them, and know that they are genuinely kind, but can come off unfriendly sometimes. Work with them to help improve how they deal with patients- new and existing.

 Stay calm!

It can be really difficult not to react when a reviewer posts negative comments about your practice that you believe to be false. Especially if you don’t remember such a negative experience with that particular patient ever happening. If you  have to wait a little while before you can respond politely- that’s fine too. But it’s important to respond maturely and professionally.

Go out of your way to contact the patient. Make sure the dentist- not the receptionist- puts in a phone call and tries to courteously figure out what happened, apologizes, and finds a way to make it up to them. If the patient can’t be reached, then respond to the review online publicly, but a phone call is always better- it shows you really care!

 So again, in order to work through a bad review situation:

  1. Contact the disgruntled patient by phone if possible
  2. Talk to them about the bad experience they had at your office
  3. Apologize! Even if it’s not something you did, a sincere apology goes a long way.
  4. Tell them that their feedback means a lot to you, and that you’re working on improving those issues.
  5. Make it up to them! Offer them a special discount, or something similar, to keep them coming back.

People usually change their reviews after a sincere attempt by business-owners to right any wrongs. Don’t be afraid to ask people to update their reviews after you’ve reached out to them. The same applies to existing patients- ask for them to provide their feedback on Yelp or another review site.

For more information on online reviews sites and maintaining your practice’s reputation on the web, contact eDentalImage for a free consultation today!

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