Review sites have become the new way for consumers to co
Reading reviews about your dental practice can be both fulfilling and frustrating, depending on the review. However, if you know how to handle and respond to patient reviews, they can actually be a powerful tool for building patient trust and brand recognition. Better yet, this tool is totally free!
Many of your potential patients are probably checking out sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, or Facebook 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 say 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 several reasons. Whether you were genuinely having an off day, you gave a patient options they didn’t like, or there was a miscommunication between a patient and staff, you now have an ugly review on the record.
You are not entirely powerless in this situation, however. In fact, negative reviews can 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 Dental Reviews
Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, is one of the best ways a dentist can interact with his or her patients online.
When patients leave a review, they take 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, or turning negative situations around, responding to reviews enables you to do a few other essential 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 another viewer perceives a review. This is especially powerful when dealing with negative reviews.
- Building loyalty: When you engage with current patients by responding to positive reviews, you encourage their loyalty toward you and your practice. Responding to reviews lets them know that 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 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 guidelines. Whether the review is good or bad, you should not be giving away any private patient information.
Here are some other essential tips to keep in mind when responding to reviews.
Responding to Positive Dental Reviews:
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. Consider personalizing it, for example, “Hi Susan, thank you for your kind response. We love taking care of you and your family.”
Positive reviews can also boost team morale. When a patient takes the time to compliment someone on your team, be sure to acknowledge it to both the patient and your staff. Respond to the positive review with something like, “Hi Sylvia, I appreciate your kind words and passed your compliment on to Jane. She was so happy that you had a positive experience, and we all look forward to seeing you next time.”
You might even include a bit of marketing when responding to a positive review with something like, “Hi Tom, thanks for sharing your positive experience with us. Our entire team works hard to make sure you’re comfortable each time you visit us, and we’re glad to see that you experienced that when you were here.”
Don’t forget to acknowledge team members who go above and beyond during your morning huddle or team meetings.
Responding to positive reviews is fun and can be an excellent team-building tool while also introducing your dental practice to new patients.
Responding to Negative Dental Reviews:
Did you know that consumer surveys have shown that 85 percent of patients trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?
Negative reviews can, and frequently do, pop up even when you don’t deserve them. This can feel hurtful and unwarranted, but remember, you can turn this into an opportunity to shine.
When you handle a negative review, these things can help you keep things in perspective:
- 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 provide contact information so the patient can reach you.
- 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. Acknowledge the complaint and apologize. “Hi, Sarah. I’m so sorry to hear that you had problems with our billing department. We work hard to help our patients get the treatment they need in an affordable manner. Please contact us by email or phone, so we can remedy the situation. We look forward to hearing from you.”
- 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 show how much you care about your patient’s concerns, not necessarily to defend yourself in a public forum.
Keep in mind that a negative review from someone who is being deceptive is no different to an unknowing reader than someone who is being truthful. So be sure that you handle all negative reviews in a positive manner, whether you feel it was unwarranted or not.
Don’t Be Afraid to Respond to Online Reviews
Remember, responding to a review doesn’t have to be painful. You can turn lemons into lemonade and even win over some potential new patients just by taking a few minutes each week to look at and respond to your online reviews.