They said what about my practice?

2015 02 15 23 17 12 996 Madow Brothers 200

It's a day you have been dreading.

You do everything you can to provide the highest-quality dentistry, best customer service, and most fantastic patient experience ever. You answer everyone's questions, are empathetic, and even work through lunch to squeeze in that emergency. And then one day, an email arrives from your spouse.

Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS.Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS.

"Honey, you won't believe this. That nice patient who got those beautiful crowns yesterday, just trashed you on the Internet."

Sure enough, you click on a link and go onto some site you never heard of, and there it is in plain sight for millions (or at least a few people) to see.

"I was not impressed with the service at [your practice]. Dr. Hack was not very nice to me and everything he did hurt. I will not be returning. Additionally, my caps look like horse teeth."

OK -- maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but, the fact is, eventually something negative will be written about you on the Web. Maybe it's already happened. So what do you do?

Keep your blood pressure low

First of all, don't worry. It's no different than in the past when, no matter how great of a job you did, someone would say something negative to a friend. Only this time, instead of a whisper at a cocktail party, it is electronic in nature.

“Your best response is a brief, polite reply letting the disgruntled patient know that you will be glad to see him or her to rectify any issues.”

Remember the key thing -- don't panic. Bad reviews on the Web are a normal thing in today's hyperconnected world. Second, ignore your first impulse to write a rambling diatribe letting everyone in the cyber world know what a jerk the author of that review is. The last thing you want to do is engage in a back and forth e-battle with everyone trying to get in the last word.

Now take a deep breath and give yourself some time to relax. If you must write a response, take a day or two to calm down. (Don't worry -- your practice won't fold in the meantime.) Your best response is a brief, polite reply letting the disgruntled patient (and anyone else reading this comment) know that you will be glad to see him or her to rectify any issues. You also may want to throw in that you have been serving the community for 30 years and that your excellent reputation with thousands of satisfied patients speaks for itself. But whatever you do, don't be nasty or get involved in a fight.

The best offense

As with many things in life, the best offense is a great defense. In this case, a great defense means having so many positive things about your practice on the Web that this review appears to be exactly what it is -- the ramblings of a disgruntled patient.

According to best-selling author Susan Wilson Solovic, the more presence you have on the Internet the less relevant one isolated bad review will look. Solovic writes:

"In addition to your website, create pages for your business on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. You should also consider starting a blog for your business and posting it. The more relevant and positive information about your business there is on the Web, the less visible a negative review will be."

Solovic also states that only a small percentage of people say they are unlikely to do business with a company based on a negative review. And if a review contains information that is just downright false, many times the site will work with you to have it removed. She recommends asking your current customers (or patients in our case) to post positive things about your practice.

So when the inevitable happens, don't panic, don't worry, and, most important, don't get engaged in a battle. Start now to build a positive presence on the Web, and the occasional negative review will look like the inconsequential blip that it is.

In 1989, Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS, founded The Madow Brothers with the goal of helping their fellow dentists achieve success and happiness in their practices. For more information about their e-letters, audio series, New Patient Mail marketing program, Dental Powerhouse group, their live presentations (including "How To Love Dentistry, Have Fun, and Prosper," "The Ultimate Dental Boot Camp," and especially "TBSE"), and more, check them out at

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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