How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

What do you do when a dental patient posts a negative online review of your practice?  A lot of dentists reach for the panic button just after they hit a punching bag.  And it’s understandable.  Prior to online reviews, an upset patient could inflict limited damage to a practice, but now a critic has a much larger audience.

Since no one wants their name associated with a negative review, our initial instinct is to dispute the review and argue our perspective.  But is that such a good idea?

Consider times when you have researched a business, reading review after review.  Typically you look for patterns, and if you see ten solid reviews you are apt to discount the lone negative one.  However, how does it look when a business answers angrily to a bad review?  The business may appear unprofessional or rude or close-minded based on their response, and the negative review now has more influence than it deserves.

Therefore, we can utilize some wisdom from the 1800’s, from Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini who said, “Answer critics with silence and indifference.  It works better, I assure you, than anger and argument.”

If someone posts a negative review, encourage others to post positive reviews and soon the critic’s input will sink to the bottom.  And if you feel compelled to answer the bad review, reply with kindness and professionalism.  Tell the critic you are sorry for whatever prompted the review and invite that person to contact you so you can address his/her concerns directly.

Sooner or later most dentists will get a negative review.  It’s unfortunately part of doing business.  If you receive a negative review, I encourage you to take out your anger in the gym instead of posting it online for everyone to see.

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