4 ways to respond to negative reviews

2016 05 24 15 03 12 170 Review Button 200

Levin Group has developed the leading comprehensive dental marketing program incorporating internal marketing, customer service, and online marketing. We have partnered with the online specialists at Wpromote to implement effective online practice-building strategies for our clients.
— Roger P. Levin, DDS

Bekkah Vidal is an online marketing specialist at Wpromote. Image courtesy of Wpromote.Bekkah Vidal is an online marketing specialist at Wpromote. Image courtesy of Wpromote.

In the dental world, a negative review can often seem like a death sentence. While many fear the mere thought of a negative review, contrary to popular belief, a negative review isn't the end of the world for your practice. It just proves what we already know: that we're all human.

It's nearly impossible to please everyone, and your potential new patients will always take that into consideration when reading your latest reviews. As removing a negative review is nearly impossible these days, here are four recommendations on how to deal with them properly when they appear.

1. Don't be afraid to respond publicly

Responding publicly to negative reviews shows that you read and acknowledge all reviews, you aren't afraid of criticism, and you value customer service. Although some review websites such as Yelp give you the option to send a private message, we recommend sending one publicly so other potential new patients see that you acknowledged the person leaving the negative review and that you are trying to remedy the situation.

Because of constraints with HIPAA policies, it has become increasingly difficult to give a specific, personalized response to a negative review. We recommend responding in a manner that does not confirm that the person is an actual patient, but still shows you are acknowledging that there is an issue that needs to be dealt with. Feel free to consult with your lawyer first, but this is the response we recommend:

Due to HIPAA policies and confidentiality, we cannot confirm or deny that you are a patient of ours. We do our best to provide the best customer service and respond to all reviews in a timely manner. If you could please call us directly at xxx-xxx-xxxx to address your concerns, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your feedback, and we look forward to hearing from you!

2. Send a private message

If responding publicly leads to a back and forth battle between the practice and the patient, we recommend moving the messages to a more private area. The best way to deal with negative reviews is speaking to patients over the phone, but if they prefer continuing an online dialogue, we recommend sending them a private message so potential new patients don't view you as argumentative. Be careful about how you acknowledge the situation and respond privately in a way that adheres to HIPAA policies. If the issue is resolved, oftentimes patients will remove or edit their review to reflect their new view of the practice.

3. If slanderous, report the review

There's a problem with reporting a review, because you don't have a patient with that name, or you believe the review was meant for another practice. Yelp and Google understand that some reviewers want to remain anonymous, so they'll often leave a review under a false name (to avoid revealing the reviewer's true identity). They are, however, more likely to remove reviews if they are slanderous or contain profanity. Feel free to report a review you believe to be slanderous, stating your reason for flagging it, and you'll probably receive a response letting you know whether the review was removed.

4. Continue to ask for more patient reviews

At the end of the day, one of the best ways to handle a negative review is to get more positive ones on your profile. Continue asking happy patients to leave reviews on sites such as Google, Yelp, and Facebook. The more positive comments will outweigh any negatives on the page, and they can also push unfavorable reviews farther down the page if the viewers are sorting by date.

Negative reviews are unfortunate, but they are one of the many aspects of being a local business owner. If you manage them correctly, your business will continue to grow and flourish as though the review never appeared in the first place.

Bekkah Vidal is an online marketing specialist at Wpromote and is responsible for assisting dental practices with their online marketing needs.

For more information about online presence and other components of the Levin Group Marketing Consulting Program, please speak with a Levin Group dental practice specialist at 888-973-0000.

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

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