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How To Handle Negative Online Reviews

by | Apr 2, 2021 | Articles, Tips and Tricks

How To Handle Negative Online ReviewsHow To Handle Negative Online Reviews 

We all want 5 star reviews all around. But the reality is, there’s very few dental practices that get a perfect review – especially online. It’s how you handle negative reviews that will reflect on your dental practice. So how do you handle negative online reviews from patients?


How To Handle Negative Online ReviewsWhy are negative reviews important?

Before we dive into how you should handle negative reviews, let’s start by saying that negative reviews aren’t all negative. In fact, having some negative reviews online is actually important. Why? 

Firstly, negative reviews generate authenticity. Imagine you were checking out reviews for a doctor’s office online. Now imagine there were 100 positive reviews, and not a single negative one. You might be a little suspicious that these reviews were paid for or unauthentic. Because let’s be real, no one is perfect. So having a few negative reviews can establish your ratings as trustworthy.

Secondly, negative reviews are a gold mine for opportunity. Not only can negative reviews help you gain more insight into how you can improve your practice, but they also give you the opportunity to build relationships and rapport with customers. How you respond to dissatisfied clients can turn a negative review into a positive.


So how do you respond to negative reviews?

Step 1: Acknowledgement

The first step to righting any wrongs with a dissatisfied customer is to acknowledge their complaint. This stands true even if you don’t agree with what they are saying. It’s okay to disagree in your mind, but if you create an argument, you’re going to upset them even more.

So when dealing with customer complaints that you don’t necessarily agree with, remember that this is their thoughts and feelings. Something about your practice made them feel that way, so take what they are saying and use it as constructive criticism. 

When responding to their complaint, be understanding and sympathetic. Acknowledge the situation by saying something to the effect of, “we’re sorry you feel this way” or “we apologize for..”

Public acknowledgement will show both the patient and other readers that you are open to criticism and willing to accept feedback to make your practice better. 


Step 2: Address the concern at hand and how you will handle it

Let’s say a patient was not pleased with the customer service that they received in your office. Address this complaint directly and let them know how you intend to correct it in the future. 

“I’m sorry that our customer service did not live up to your expectations. We are addressing the problem directly with our staff members and are offering additional customer service training courses to ensure that your expectations are better met in the future.”


Step 3: Make the conversation less public

There are some iisues that you can (and should) address online, and there are other things that should remain confidential. So give the dissatisfied client an opportunity to address their concern with you offline. 

“I would like to address your concerns with you further offline. Please feel free to contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX and ask to speak with Heather so that we can make things right”.

This will also be your opportunity to gain more insight into their complaint. Now is your time to ask any follow up questions (which should never be asked online) to learn more about why they were so dissatisfied in the first place.


Step 4: Make it right

Once you’ve acknowledged and addressed any concerns, now is your time to make it right. The goal is to a) change the negative review and b) regain them as clients. So how do you intend to do that? Will you offer them a discount on their next service? Or maybe you’ll offer them a free cleaning service? It’s up to you what you offer to right your wrong, but doing so will be an important part in regaining their trust and business.

Finally, always remember to keep things short and sweet. As a general rule of thumb, all follow-ups to negative reviews should be 4 sentences or less. Acknowledge the problem, address the concern and how you will fix it, and give them an opportunity to contact you – leave the rest for offline. 

B. Vo, DDS
Author: B. Vo, DDS