Online reviews are essential to the success of almost every type of business. Reviews are a tool that most consumers use to determine who they’ll do business with, and they take into consideration both the good and bad reviews.
It’s hard to hear that a patient is unhappy with you or that they had a bad experience at your dental practice. Receiving a bad review online from a patient may initially feel like a punch to your gut, but before your emotions take control, take a deep breath and pause to consider how you may be able to turn this situation around.
Your first response might be to ignore the bad review or to clap back with reasons why your reviewer is wrong; however, let’s take a minute to think about how you can turn your lemons into lemonade.
Remember, your negative reviewer is also a human who just wants to be heard. Ignoring a negative review may indicate to other readers and potential new patients that you don’t care about their experiences at your dental practice, and this is exactly what you don’t want them to think.
Instead, when you take a minute to gather your thoughts and emotions and carefully craft a response to a negative review, you are showing everyone who reads those reviews that you’re committed to their positive experience at your dental office.
A negative review actually presents you with several opportunities:
Once you’ve taken some time to reign in any emotions you might have about the negative review, here are some things to keep in mind when you’re crafting your response.
Pro Tip: Keep the four A’s in mind – Address, Acknowledge, Apologize, and take Action.
Responding to the negative review as quickly as possible shows that you care about what happened and are willing to do your best to make amends. This reads well for other potential patients who are considering your office for their dental care.
Responding within 24 hours or as soon as you can is best. A patient who feels heard can become your biggest fan in the long run.
Even if you don’t feel that their negative review is justified, keep your focus on what you can do to make amends when you’re addressing your patient’s concerns. Empathizing with their concerns will help you diffuse the situation and ensure that your reviewer is heard.
Demonstrate that you care about your reviewer’s feelings by acknowledging their issue or frustration without having to make your own case in defense. Instead, acknowledging their frustration shows that you are listening and that you’re committed to making it right.
Thank your patient for their review because even a negative review can help you and your team learn to do better for future patients.
Be sure that you apologize to your reviewer for their negative experience. You might also invite them to call or email your dental office so you can personally make amends offline.
Invite them to give you another chance, and ask them what you can do to improve their experience next time. Most importantly, be open to their suggestions. An open mind will help you and your team examine where you might be able to improve.
If you have an incredibly aggressive review you’re dealing with that could be considered sexist, racist, defamatory, or if it contains foul language, you may be able to petition the platform to remove that negative review. These parameters are true for Google, and you can ask them to remove the review.
Start by checking the platform’s rules for removal and move forward if your negative review fits the parameters.
If your reviewer offers some suggestions for improvement, be sure to let them know how you might implement those. Remember, not everyone will acknowledge your response, but other people reading your reviews will see that you responded, and they can see how you handle negative patient experiences.
Keep your audience in mind. While you are trying to make amends with your unhappy reviewer, you also communicate to your larger audience of current and potential patients that you’re invested in their experience at your dental practice. Many people will consider this when they see a thoughtful response to a negative review.
Even when you feel your negative review is unjustified, it’s important to remember that this is an excellent opportunity to communicate what your dental practice is about to your negative reviewer and everyone who will look at your reviews, including potential new patients.
Here is a template to give you some ideas about how you might want to respond to a negative online review:
Hi (insert first name),
Thank you for spending some time and leaving our dental practice a review. We strive to make every patient experience at our dental office exceptional, and we’re genuinely sorry to hear that wasn’t the case for you.
We want you to know that we’d like to make this situation right for you, and we’ve emailed you directly, or we’d invite you to call us to discuss it further. We hope that you’ll consider giving us a chance to improve your experience.
Thanks again for taking the time to share a review with our team.
When you’re crafting your response, keep in mind to respect HIPAA privacy laws and never discuss a specific condition or situation online. Instead, keep it general.
If you have questions about online reviews, or you need help managing them or other aspects of your dental practice marketing, our team at Great Dental Websites would love to chat with you.