Dental Marketing: A Guide for Avoiding Negative Online Reviews

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

Mike Blumenthal of the Rapid Web Division of Blumenthals.com advises the following for avoiding negative reviews — I’ve adapted them for dentistry.

1- Do your follow-up.
Follow up with patients immediately after the completion of treatment with a call and/or an email to be sure that all went as planned. Identify problems early on in the cycle so that you can correct them before they become complaints.

2- Make complaining easy.
Build a culture that is truly ready to receive the complaint at every level of your practice, from the front desk to the doctor. Train your staff and train them well 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 like a dental patient stewing about your bad service like 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 an equal number of consumers posted a positive review after receiving a response to their bad review. Having a plan and responding appropriately to a negative review 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.
Competitor spam reviews 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. The reality is that other similar local practices are not the long-term determinant of your success, nor really your major competition.

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 and find out what may have set this dental patient off and see if you 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 an online negative 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 inviting people to taste different spaghetti recipes at his restaurant and vote on the one they liked best. The promotion ended up being a big success, and his restaurant ended up with a new, improved spaghetti recipe that 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.

How would you handle a negative online review?

About Jim Du Molin

+Jim Du Molin is a leading Internet marketing expert for dentists in North America. He has helped hundreds of doctors make more money in their practices using his proven Internet marketing techniques.

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