Review sites have become the new way for consumers to communicate with each other. As much as we may not like to think of health care as a consumer-driven commodity, Pandora’s box has been opened and we need to be realistic and meet patients where they are at.
Many of your potential patients are probably checking out sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, and Rate a Dentist to find out more about your practice. Do you know what your reviews look like? It might be worth using a reputation management tool or just taking a moment to check out what people are saying about you on these and similar sites.
If your reviews are all positive, congratulations!
But what if they aren’t? Negative reviews can happen for a number of reasons. Whether you were genuinely having an off day or a patient was provided with options they didn’t like, you now have an ugly review on the record.
You are not completely powerless in this situation, however. In fact, negative reviews should be seen as an opportunity to both win over a previously unhappy patient and show potential new patients that you care and you are open to feedback and improvement.
Why You Should Respond to Reviews
Responding to reviews is one of the best ways a dentist can interact with his or her patients online. When a patient leaves a review, they are taking time out of their day to give you honest feedback about your practice. It only makes sense to acknowledge this effort and show your gratitude in kind. Google has even begun to notify users by email when a business responds to their review, which allows for more communication on their platform.
Along with expressing thanks, responding to reviews enables you to do a few other important things, including:
- Staying in control: You are in charge of how viewers perceive both positive and negative reviews. Responding to your reviews allows you to give a little bit more information about yourself, which can completely change how a review is perceived by another viewer. This is especially useful when dealing with negative reviews.
- Building loyalty: When you engage with current patients by responding to positive reviews, you are fortifying their loyalty toward you and your practice. Responding to reviews makes it looks like you care. and, as you know, that is a big part of what makes a great dentist.
- Garnering more reviews: You can create a snowball effect that will lead to more and more reviews over time. If patients see you regularly responding to reviews, they are more likely to post new reviews because they assume you will see (and care about) theirs.
- Mitigating negative reviews: If negative reviews do pop up, your responses look less out of place if you are already responding to all your positive reviews as well.
Your Response to Reviews
When responding to reviews, you do want to keep in mind HIPAA’s guidelines. Whether the review is good or bad, you should not be giving away any patient information.
- Hopefully positive reviews are going to be the most common types of reviews you get. When responding, write a quick “thank you” that is both brief and sincere.
- Keep your responses short and simple. You don’t want to say anything that could feel like a betrayal of privacy nor do you want to say anything that could possibly embarrass your patient.
- Negative reviews can, and oftentimes do, pop up even when you don’t deserve them. Plenty of dentists get the occasional patient who goes on a random rant and says things that aren’t even true. A negative review from someone who is being deceptive is no different to an unknowing reader than someone who is being truthful. When handling a negative review always keep in mind the following things:
- Make your response about the practice, not about the review. Sharing something along the lines about how your staff cares and that they would like to remedy the situation keeps the response short and sweet, and still respecting the patient's privacy.
- Always keep all information confidential. Never say anything that could be a breach of privacy, especially with specific health information.
- Be the bigger person. Even if the review is unjust take it in stride and treat it just like any other bad review.
- Potential patients are more than likely going to believe what your reviewers have to say. When handling a bad review, remember that your job is to look like you care about your patient’s concerns, not necessarily to defend yourself in a public forum.
- It sounds obvious, but never insult the reviewer. I assure you it happens, and all it does is shed an unattractive light on the dentist.