Online Reviews: A Guide to Avoid Negative Ones

dentists negative online reviewsIn customer service it used to be said that an unhappy customer would tell nine to fifteen other people about their negative opinions.

Today an unhappy dental patient can influence hundreds of people by leaving a negative review on an online review website, in their Facebook stream or on Google Places.

Negative online reviews can be painful, but is there a way to avoid a dental marketing disaster?

A Guide to Handle Negative online reviews

Mike Blumenthal of the Rapid Web Division of Blumenthals.com advises the following to avoid negative reviews (I’ve adapted them for dentistry.).

1. Do your follow-up.

Follow-up with patients immediately after appointments with a call and an email to make sure that all went well. Identify problems early on in the cycle so that you can correct them before they turn into complaints.

2. Make complaining easy.

Build a culture that is truly ready to receive complaints at every level of your practice from the front desk to the doctor. Train your staff to not be defensive, and to solve most problems immediately.

3. Respond quickly to complaints.

When you do receive a complaint, follow up quickly and try to resolve it. Nothing rankles a dental patient stewing over bad service than waiting for a return phone call.

4. Respond to negative reviews online.

Once the issue is resolved, circle back with the patient about the review. A recent survey has shown that an appropriate response to a negative can get the negative review removed in a third of the cases. A roughly equal number of consumers posted a positive review after receiving a response to their bad review. Having a plan, and responding appropriately to negative online reviews is critical to this process.

5. Never fake reviews or enter them on behalf of your patients.

It is imperative that you not provide reviewers with any trace that you are abusing your review corpus. Getting slammed by a patient review that questions your ethics calls into question your trustworthiness and integrity. It is the most difficult type of negative review to deal with, even if it is not true. Responding online to the question, “Do you beat your wife with a stick or a club?” creates a no-win situation.

6. Communicate with your local competitors.

Spam online reviews from competitors are becoming more common than ever. If you are on speaking terms with them, you are much less likely to fall victim to a puerile spam review attack. In reality, your competition is not the long-term determinant of your success.

Just remember that when you are dealing with a negative review, it’s important to avoid appearing sarcastic and placing blame on the patient.   Try to find out what may have upset the dental patient, because you want to can prevent this from happening again in the future.

There may be a hidden opportunity in a negative review

If you handle it right,it can become a dental marketing opportunity

There is a story about an Italian restaurant that received a negative online review about their spaghetti. This lead to another negative review, and another, until the owner sat down one night and ate a plate of his spaghetti. He had to agree that his spaghetti was awful, and here he was running an Italian restaurant.

He decided to run a contest for people to taste different spaghetti recipes, and vote for the best one. The promotion ended up being a big success, and his restaurant ended up with a new and improved spaghetti recipe that the customers loved.

He then went on to promote his restaurant as one that actively listens to what the customer wants. He turned a negative into a money-making positive, and past customers are coming back to his restaurant too.

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