Hi everyone! This topic was discussed in our student center forum and I felt the information and tips were so great I wanted to share it with the public. I am sure many of you are or will be dealing with this at one time or another.
One of our All-Star offices received an online Google review that was negative, and they were very hurt and upset by this (as would be expected). We won’t share the actual review since they wish to remain private. However, essentially, the patient was complaining online about her dental treatment and the associated fees.
We asked our VP of Coaching, Dana Russell, and our Head Instructor, Larry Guzzardo, for feedback on how a practice can reply to a negative review.
Words of Wisdom
It can be tricky to respond as the dentist or person handling the social media may feel personally offended and hurt by the review. Positive reviews will help offset the bad review (so ask all your patients for reviews)!
We suggest that you address all negative reviews, as a lack of response may lead others to believe you don’t care about patient issues.
Your response needs to be positive, such as:
The goal of our office is to meet and exceed our patients’ expectations at each visit. Our office manager (or dentist) would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about your recent visits and discuss a resolution that will work for you. Please reach out to our office at your earliest convenience.
This approach shows you are willing to discuss the problem with the patient and interested in resolving the issue. Your response also goes a long way to de-escalating emotions and can reassure potential new patients (who may come across the review) that you care about these types of issues.
Another challenge to managing negative experiences is that patient expectations often are not set appropriately ahead of the patient visit. Having clear, well-defined protocols ensure steps are taken so each patient visit results in a fantastic experience. Following the GREAT call process not only on the phone but working it into chair-side discussions helps set appropriate expectations.
Even though negative reviews generally can’t be removed by a business owner, it doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do. First, I would try to contact the patient to see if you can remedy the situation. One approach is to ask for a second chance to prove that the patient’s experience was not up to your standards.
Let the patient know that you are sorry that she was displeased and if there’s anything you can do, you’re glad to do it. It may be as simple as that.
If you’re able to resolve the problem, ask the patient to please remove the negative review. I have heard that most patients would consider returning to a practice they negatively reviewed if they received an apology.
Secondly, even if you can’t get the patient to take the review down and fix the situation yourself, I would recommend that you reply to the negative review.
There are two things to remember:
Always respond to negative reviews, but never be defensive or sound upset.
Your response can be used to demonstrate how reasonable you are and even promote your practice. I know your initial impulse may be to go on the defensive and insist the patient was wrong or misunderstood. But responding this way always makes you look bad, and you get nothing out of it. Going on the defensive only starts a war of words. Unfortunately, you’ll never win an online review war.
Instead, you can say something like this:
I was very disappointed to hear about your experience in our practice. It’s our policy to offer a very high standard of care and to do everything possible to provide each patient with outstanding service. We believe every patient should be happy with their appointment. We’d welcome the opportunity to try to resolve this issue in person and invite you to please contact our office directly so that we can address your concerns.
Notice I’m not making any excuses, just apologizing and attempting to correct the situation.
Some sites provide the option to respond privately to a review, but a public response can be powerfully positive.
I find responding publicly gives you an opportunity to say that you offer high-quality dentistry. A reasoned, neutral response makes you appear as a calm, rational professional and helps attract the right patients to your practice. A private message is like sending a personal email directly to the reviewer. A public comment will post directly under the user’s review and is visible to any other user on the site. I recommend responding publicly because it allows you to shed more light on the situation or demonstrate that action has been taken to address the reviewer’s feedback.
After you have responded, don’t address it again with this person. If the patient responds back, let it be. Remember, you’ll never win a war of words online.
I know getting reviews like this is frustrating and it’s all a part of marketing in today’s world. If you respond calmly and professionally, you’ll get more positive reviews in the future, and it’ll make the one negative review seem unimportant.
Managing Positive Reviews
Responding to positive reviews is just as important as responding to negative reviews. However, many practices wonder, “Why respond to a good review?”
If a good patient leaves a glowing five-star review, it can’t get any better than that, right? It can! Responding to a positive review is an easy way to engage with happy customers in a way that benefits both your practice identity and your one-to-one relationship with that patient. Remember, online reviews and review sites are public, so the positive conversations that happen about your practice here can do wonders for attracting new patients!
Here’s why you should always respond to a positive review:
- It’s the polite thing to do. If a patient gave you a compliment in real life, you would say thank you. It’s only polite. And with an online review, the praise in public. So be extra nice!
- Everyone is looking. 92% of consumers now read online reviews. The public, including potential future patients, may read this review. Replying to the review is a chance to speak to these people too, and do some subtle marketing
- Actively engaging with positive online conversations about your practice can encourage others to participate in that conversation and generate more buzz and visibility for your practice.
- Responses to reviews can affect search rankings. By replying properly, you can improve the SEO ranking of the review, and help the review show up in search results for a business
How to respond to a positive review
Thank the customer for the positive review and be specific. Ensure the reviewer knows a real person is behind your reply by referencing something specific they said.
“Thanks for leaving a review and mentioning our hygienist [Name]. You’re right, she is always smiling!”
Use the business name and keywords in your review response to the good review. This will help the positive review appear in search results.
“The team here at [Practice Name] is thrilled to hear such good feedback, and we’re proud to be known as one of the friendliest dental offices in [City Name].”
Add a little marketing to your review response. Your reply is public and will be read by others, including future patients, so throw in some sizzle about your practice! Mention a behind-the-scenes reason they had a great experience, or a new feature or promotion.
“Did you know we just started our own in-office membership (or discount) plan for patients without dental insurance?”
Invite the patient to do something in your response. Ask the patient to return, use another service or spread the word.
“Next time you’re here, you should consider taking us up on our teeth whitening special!” Or, “We look forward to seeing during your next visit, and don’t forget you’re always welcome to tell friends about us!”
Dana and Larry were spot on with their recommendations!
The best way to avoid these situations in your practice is for the entire team to have solid verbal customer service skills (yes, that means you too, dentists). You must also be sure that appropriate systems are in place, so everyone can do their jobs efficiently and be on the same page.
Start with basic verbiage and communication skills. Nothing will get your practice better reviews than by having superb verbal skills and knowing how to effectively build rapport and trust with your patients. From there, you will learn ways to create the perfect patient experience that is consistent from start to finish and results in raving fans for your practice!
Get more details on how All-Star Dental Academy’s Dental Phone Skills training program can supercharge your patient experience by visiting our Services page. Alternatively, you can learn about how front office performance on the phones can lead to success: register for our free educational webinar Dental Practice Excellence: 3 Steps to an All-Star Practice. Finally, you can call our office at (844) 631.7575 to speak with an All-Star representative about our Training Program.
Heather is also an accomplished writer in the world of dentistry, having her articles, press releases, and blogs featured in various publications including Dental Practice Management, Dentistry Today, The Progressive Dentist Magazine, Dentistry IQ, and more.