How to Deal with Negative Reviews of your Office on the Internet

Published:  February 5, 2013

Negative Reviews for your Office?  It's Inevitable.

Although we all try to grow and improve from negative feedback, nobody likes to hear it.  And we especially don’t like to hear negative feedback about our skills, our offices, and our staff – when the whole world can see.  So in this short article, I’m going to go over some options that you have for managing negative Google reviews (and other negative reviews on the Internet).

Everyone gets negative reviews, and we all have patients that no matter how hard we try to please, are simply not satisfied.  That being said, the first thing you need to do when you do get the inevitable negative review is NOT TO RESPOND – at least not yet.  Your first sentiments will be anger, frustration, and often genuine sadness because you have a patient who wasn’t happy with you or what you’ve done.  All of these emotions are normal – but you must not act on them.  We need to cool-off before any action is taken.

The best thing to do in the face of a negative review is to nothing.  Yes, nothing.  The reasons are as follows. If you reply online: 

1. You will bring more attention to the negative review, as you go back and forth with the patient. Because it is a “discussion”,  the most recent interactions you have with this patient will often be at the top of your review list, making the negative review even more visible.
2. You may inadvertently violate privacy or HIPPA rules.  Even if you mention something minor – you may be publically exposing the patients private health information and setting yourself up for disciplinary action or a lawsuit.
3. You risk looking petty.  I know you want to explain yourself – we all do – but doing so often winds up complicating the issue and making you look unprofessional.

So what Can you Do about Negative Reviews:

1. If you MUST respond (again a course of action I do not recommend), state something generic and simple, that’s humble and respectful.  Something along the lines of, “At XYZ dental we strive to make every patient experiences a positive one.  Please contact us so we can work together to address your concerns”.  That’s it.
2. Get more positive reviews.  It’s easier said than done, but the only way to really get that negative review out of the spotlight, it to have it overshadowed by more and more positive reviews.  Along those lines, a few negative reviews here and there are not necessarily a problem – as I personally am skeptical of ANY business that has 100% positive reviews.  All of us who run businesses (and treat patients) know that 100% satisfaction is what we strive for – yet know is impossible to achieve.
3. Consider working with a reputation management company.  You need to do your own research to find a company that fits your specific needs and your budget, but companies such as Smile Reminder and Demand Force (neither of which I have used, and neither of which I am endorsing) can help you work on getting positive reviews.  One of the biggest problems with getting more reviews is the barriers that are often put up by Google.  For example, if you use a single iPad in your office for patients to use to write reviews, these reviews may be rejected by Google because Google may see all of the reviews coming from one device, and think that it’s you simply adding more and more fake reviews.  Similarly, because patients need to register for a Google account to write Google reviews, this step can often be a barrier to getting your reviews online.   So these companies can help streamline the review process, along with other features that they offer.


The take-home message from this article therefore, is simple:  accept that we all will get negative reviews, and push these negative reviews to the bottom of the pile with more and more positive reviews.

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