How To Handle Bad Reviews On Google (and elsewhere)

Even the best dental practices are bound to receive a less-than-stellar review occasionally. Don’t let the fear of negative feedback deter you from creating your Google My Business page! The reality is that most people understand businesses will receive bad reviews from time to time. The key is how you manage these reviews. Let’s explore practical strategies for handling bad reviews on Google and other platforms to maintain a positive online reputation.

The Reality of Bad Reviews

Negative reviews are an inevitable part of running any business. They can stem from various issues, including misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations, or genuine service lapses. While it might feel disheartening to see a bad review, it’s important to remember that these reviews are manageable. By addressing them appropriately, you can mitigate their impact and demonstrate your commitment to patient satisfaction.

Tip #1: Get More Positive Reviews

One of the most effective ways to counteract negative reviews is to accumulate more positive ones. This is often easier said than done, but the presence of positive reviews can significantly outweigh the negatives. Here are some strategies to encourage more positive reviews:

  • Provide Exceptional Service: Consistently delivering excellent patient care and creating a positive experience encourages satisfied patients to leave good reviews.
  • Ask for Reviews: Don’t be shy about asking your happy patients to leave a review. A simple request at the end of an appointment can make a big difference.
  • Follow-up: Send follow-up emails or text messages thanking patients for their visit and gently reminding them to leave a review if they are satisfied with their experience.

By actively seeking positive reviews, you can create a buffer that diminishes the impact of any negative feedback you receive.

Tip #2: Respond to Negative Reviews

Responding to negative reviews is crucial. It shows that you care about patient feedback and are committed to improving your services. There are two types of negative reviews: those you deserve and those you do not. Here’s how to handle both:

Deserved Negative Reviews

If a negative review highlights a legitimate issue, it’s essential to address it head-on. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Be Appreciative: Start your response with gratitude. For example, “We appreciate your feedback and are very sorry you did not enjoy your experience at our practice. We strive to improve our services continuously.”
  • Be Professional: Ensure the response comes from the practice rather than a specific individual. This maintains a professional tone.
  • Be Polite: Avoid engaging in a verbal spat no matter the accusations. Politeness goes a long way in showing your professionalism.
  • Be Positive: Focus on what your practice does well. Avoid negative language like “we didn’t” or “never.” Instead, use positive phrases such as “We always strive to deliver exceptional service.”
  • Be Firm: If a review contains false accusations, you can refute them while maintaining a positive tone. For instance, if someone isn’t a patient of record, you can point that out.
  • Be Sorry (When Appropriate): Apologize only if there is a mistake. For example, if a patient had to wait an excessive amount of time, acknowledge the issue and invite them to contact you to discuss it further.

Undeserved Negative Reviews

Sometimes, negative reviews are based on misunderstandings or false information. These reviews also deserve a response:

  • Clarify the Misunderstanding: If the negative feedback is due to a misunderstanding, politely explain the situation to provide clarity.
  • Maintain Positivity: Keep your language positive and professional when refuting false claims.

By responding appropriately to all types of negative reviews, you demonstrate that you value patient feedback and are committed to high standards of care.

Tip #3: Reach Out Directly

Ignoring negative reviews won’t make them disappear. If you can identify the patient who left the review, consider contacting them directly. This personal touch can often turn a negative experience into a positive one:

  • Have a Conversation: If you believe there was no fault on your part, try to converse with the patient to clear up any misunderstandings.
  • Apologize if necessary: If your practice was wrong, apologize sincerely. This can go a long way in mending the relationship.
  • Offer a “Make-Good”: In the marketing industry, a “make-good” is a special offer to compensate for a bad experience. For example, you might offer a discount on future services. A simple gesture like this can turn a detractor into a promoter.

Maintaining a Positive Online Presence

While avoiding negative reviews entirely is impossible, you can manage them effectively to minimize their impact. Here are some additional strategies to maintain a positive online presence:

  • Regular Monitoring: Monitor your reviews across various platforms and respond promptly to positive and negative feedback.
  • Encourage Honest Reviews: Always encourage honest reviews from your patients. Authentic feedback builds trust with potential patients, even if it’s not always glowing.
  • Learn and Improve: Use negative reviews as learning opportunities. Assess the feedback and identify areas for improvement to enhance the overall patient experience.