How Can a Dentist Deal with a Negative Online Review - Revisited

Published:  October 20, 2013

I was involved in a discussion on LinkedIn where the owner of a dental "review" company said implied that dentists could respond to negative reviews in order to try to "balance" the situation.  I could not disagree more strongly with that approach, so I thought I'd revisit my advice on "How to Handle a Negative Review":

1) If you respond to a review (good or bad) the conversation thread will likely be moved to the top of the list because it's newer, and will thus become more apparent to prospective patients. In addition, "conversations" look busier to people, and people may thus gravitate to conversations because one can generally learn more from a conversation as opposed to a one-way comment.
Bottom line:  you do not want to draw attention to negative reviews.
2) If you respond to a negative review it can make you appear petty. As a dentist myself, I totally understand the patient who you bent over backward for, adjusted their denture 20 times and didn't' charge them because you felt bad, and then they still gave you a negative review.  For some reason it's your fault that they came into the office with no bone on the lower arch, and even though you told them they have no bone and that there are significant  limitations of electing to not elect to with the implant treatment plan, you are still the bad guy.  You do not want other potential patients reading your argument with a senior citizen about how they are unreasonable (even though they may very well be).
3) If you respond you a negative review you could be opening up yourself to liability.  If you inadvertently hint of any details of their treatment ("that denture", "the molar", etc) you may be violating privacy rules for which you can be disciplined (do a Google search for dentist sues patient for online review and vice versa).
4) If you feel as though you must reply to a comment, then write something very generic, and use the same text every time, "Here at ABC dental, we strive to make every patient experience an exceptional one.  If you have a concern, please contact us immediately so we can work with you personally to resolve  it".
So as much as reviews can be a nuisance to manage (and secure), working with reviews is the wave of the future (and the "now"), and it's a necessary part of promoting your dental office's presence online in 2013.

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