Online reviews are important for dental and orthodontic practices, because they help to establish trust with potential patients. Reviews do the same as word-of-mouth recommendations, but they reach a far broader audience. This is what makes dental reputation management a powerful marketing tool in attracting new patients.

Online reviews often give prospective patients their first impression of your practice, and they carry almost as much importance as personal endorsements. They can also improve your dental or orthodontic practice’s visibility in search engines. Reviews can have a larger influence than advertising in increasing your leverage in localized search engine optimization (SEO).

Potential patients see reviews as being unbiased and trustworthy, because they’re written by people just like themselves. What your patients say about is more important than what you say about yourself.

No dental or orthodontic practice likes to see unfavorable comments from unhappy patients. No matter how good your dental or orthodontic services are, negative reviews and poor ratings can deter potential clients. This is why managing your online reputation is essential in presenting your practice in its best light. It is natural to get upset, or even angry, when you receive a bad review, but this will not resolve the issue. There are a few ideas below on how to respond to negative reviews in order to minimize their effects. This also helps turn the experience into a positive situation for your dental and orthodontic practices.

Don’t ignore a negative review

If you fail to respond to a negative review, it may appear that you don’t care about what your patients think. You should also reply to a negative review because it may appease the disgruntled patient by demonstrating that you’re willing to try to resolve their problem. Responding to a bad review will also make you stand out from competitors who ignore views. This reinforces the message that you have the best interests of your patients at heart.

Stay calm

If you come across an unfavorable review of your practice, take a deep breath, remain calm, and think things through in a careful manner. When dealing with a patient who says that they’ve had a bad experience at your dental or orthodontic practice, it will help if you have a set of standard responses to fall back on. These can be a starting point for your response, but you need to personalize your reply to address the specific concerns the individual has. Keep in mind that your reply is out there for everyone to see when you respond to a review online. Since everyone can see what you say, don’t get involved in a fight with the patient.

Fix the problem

It is important to be seen when responding to a negative review, but you also need to address any genuine issues raised. This might mean that you need to invite the patient to call you or visit your office to discuss the matter in detail. By doing this, you’re showing the individual – and prospective new patients – that you’re willing to resolve any concerns your patients may have. Even if the patient doesn’t have a one-to-one conversation with you, you’ve shown people who saw the review discussion that you were willing to make an effort to remedy the situation. This can go a long way when trying to establish trust with prospective patients. Once you’ve fixed a problem to the patient’s satisfaction, ask them to modify their review or remove it.

A bad review can also help you to get an insight into how you can possibly improve the way your practice operates. If you carefully assess what the unhappy patient is saying, you may find that there are bigger issues you need to work on.

Get more good reviews

One of the best ways to minimize the effect of bad reviews is to get more good ones. Diminish the impact of unfavorable reviews by encouraging all your patients to post evaluations of your practice. Steer patients toward review sites such as those run by Yelp, Facebook, and Google. Research indicates that nearly 70% of customers will leave a review when asked to do so. More than 80% of people trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. Another benefit of encouraging online reviews is that potential client tends to put more trust in recent postings.

Monitor your reviews

You won’t be able to reply to an adverse reverse review if you don’t see it, so it’s essential to monitor the reviews you get. When patients talk about you and your practice online, you need to know what they are saying. By knowing what they are saying, you can promote the positive reviews and repair the potential damage of negative reviews. An effective online review strategy also gives you an overview of how patients perceive your practice. Responding to reviews is more important than ever for local businesses like dental and orthodontic offices. A 2017 survey by the BrightLocal SEO platform determined that nearly all consumers looked online for local businesses. Thirty percent of individuals regarded review responses as being highly important when evaluating a local business.

How to deal with fake negative reviews

Fake negative reviews can be a nightmare for small businesses like dental and orthodontic practices. They can potentially result in prospective patients taking their business elsewhere. A false defamatory review can be frustrating, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get it removed. However, you may be able to ask for it to be assessed depending on the site.

Take the time to do some research to make sure the review is fake. If you decide to publicly respond to a fake review, write a polite reply. Replying to a fake negative review gives you an opportunity to highlight the core values of your practice in providing excellent care for your patients. Being aggressive and insisting on having the last word is likely to do more harm than good.

Since the review is fake, you can’t address the problem for this individual. However, you can make it clear to your real patients and prospective clients that you’re aware of the negative assessment and that you take reviews seriously.

If you get a negative review on your Google My Business (GMB) profile, you may be able to get it taken down if it violates Google’s policies by being off topic, containing a personal attack, or offensive language. Facebook may take reviews down if they don’t comply with their community standards. Their community standards prohibit bullying and sexual harassment.

Difficulties of taking legal action

Legal action could be considered if a fake review appears to be libelous. Taking legal action can be extremely time-consuming, costly, and frustrating. Since there is a guarantee of freedom of speech in the First Amendment, defamation law in the United States tends to give more protection to defendants than libel legislation in many other countries. Another problem is that the definition of libel varies in different states, and a defendant may use the libel defense that the review was a fair comment.

Don’t let negative reviews get you down

The occasional negative review is inevitable, and the potential of fake, harmful reviews will always be present. Once there is a strategy in place to deal with them effectively, you shouldn’t be deterred from encouraging honest reviews from your patients. Reviews are a marketing tool that can play a major role in attracting new patients.