In Focus: Dental Reputation Management

Although online reviews can help a dental practice reach new patients, much like word-of-mouth recommendations, online comments can be a double edge sword. Put simply, negative reviews and unfavorable comments can damage your professional reputation. Although an occasional negative review is inevitable, there are steps you can take to manage and protect your online reputation.

Online Reputation Defense 101

Potential patients give online reviews serious consideration because reviewers are perceived as trustworthy. Regardless of how well your practice does in terms of patient referrals, however, negative reviews can drive potential patients away. There are a number of ways to respond to poor online reviews, however, such as:

  • Monitor your reviews — obviously, managing your online reputation starts with monitoring your reviews. This will enable you to (1) see how patients perceive your practice, (2) minimize the effect of negative comments, (3) and promote positive reviews.
    Respond to negative comments — failing to respond to negative reviews may give patients and potential patients the impression you don’t care what they think. Responding to a bad review, on the other hand, will let a dissatisfied patient know that you are interested in resolving his or her problem. This will also signal others that you put the best interest of patients first.
  • Resolve the problem — If actual issues are raised in an online review, it is crucial to address them. This might require asking the patient to contact the office to discuss discussing the matter directly and a willingness to resolve the problem. If you are able to address the patient’s issue, you can then ask them to remove or change the negative review. If not, your attempt to do so will show that you are committed to providing quality dental care.
  • Get more good reviews — The surest way to minimize the impact of negative online reviews is by encouraging satisfied patients to post positive comments about your practice on review sites such as Yelp or Google My Business.  A positive online review can be just as beneficial as a personal recommendation.

The Takeaway

While patient referrals are still the gold standard for many dental practices, more and more people — in particular millenials — are relying on the internet to explore health care options. As such, negative reviews can be harmful to your reputation — at home and in cyberspace.

By monitoring online reviews, responding to negative reviews, resolving a patient’s problem, and encouraging patients to post positive comments, you can effectively defend your online reputation. In the event you are faced with an online review by a particularly disgruntled patient or worse, a fake review, you should speak with an attorney who provides legal services to dental professionals.