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Negative Reviews: 6 Suggestions from an Office Manager on How to Handle Them

Let me begin by saying I am not an online or marketing guru. I know many amazing marketing professionals in our industry that I would happily recommend when it comes to the latest and the greatest about managing your online reputation and how to handle negative reviews.

However, I can tell you that I am an active dental office manager and every dental office, including my own gets negative reviews from time to time.

As an office manager, who has a multitude of other things to manage outside of what people are saying about us on the internet, this is my advice.

1) Watch Your Online Reputation Daily.

As an office manager or a front office employee how will you have time to do this?

Use a service or software to help you do it. You do not have time each day to search all around the internet to see what people are saying about your office or their experience while there. Instead, use technology to do it for you.

For a minimal fee, you can utilize a system to monitor and report to you what has been added online pertaining to your office or doctors. This service is priceless because you get it within minutes or hours of items being posted, which allows you to address it accordingly.

The last thing you want is something written negatively about your office on the internet without your knowledge.

2) Take the Review with a Grain of Salt.

As I’ve said, there are just some people that you cannot make happy. Don’t give too much attention or focus to this person because your attention gives them the results they are after, to bring you or your team down. And, your focus shift will then diminish the attention or energy you give the patients that are in your office and really enjoy their experience with your staff, practice and doctors.

Do take a moment to consider what the bad review says because there may be a grain of truth to it that your office can learn from and potentially make needed improvements.

3) Don’t Wait to Talk the Patient Off the Ledge.

When someone is upset with your office, it is very easy for them to go onto the internet and complain, and for many, it is easier than calling your office to discuss it directly.

When you find yourself with an upset patient, it is best to reach out to them and attempt to handle it with them directly.

You are not necessarily looking to turn that upset client into a happy patient again, but you are looking to reach a point where the patient feels like they were heard and understood. You may need to compromise with them on something and/or take the high road and let them know that they were heard and your office will address this issue to attempt to avoid it in the future.

The goal is to try to turn a mad patient into one who feels like their issue was addressed. Many times, by doing that, they will even take the bad review down, if you ask.

4) Respond to All or Respond to None.

This suggestion differs from the opinion of marketing experts. They will tell you to respond to your reviews and honestly, I am not great at that task considering how many other things I must manage daily.

I do agree in a perfect world, I would respond to reviews, so do that if you can make the time to do it. However, I highly recommend you don’t only respond to the bad reviews. Responding only to the negative reflects poorly on your reputation by appearing to make excuses for the office or focusing on the bad. If you are going to respond, make sure you respond to both good and bad reviews.

It is important to make sure you are careful not to get into specific details in your response which may violate your patient’s privacy in any way. As a rule of thumb, your response to both good and bad reviews should always maintain professionalism and respect for the individual.

5) Bury Bad Reviews with Good Reviews.

You now know that you can’t everyone happy all the time and when you add that to the occasional human error, your office will get an occasional bad review online. For any business, this happens and potential customers expect to see them. However, if you have 20 great reviews for that single bad review, the reader will take that into account while making their decision about your office.

Make sure your great reviews significantly out number your bad reviews. When you get a bad review, follow the suggestions provided here, then ask your happy patients, family and friends to post some fresh, new, positive content about your office and their experiences there so the negative content gets buried.

6) Be Good Enough Not to Worry.

If you ensure that your office is offering the ultimate customer service experience, don’t fret. If you know that you care about your patients fully and they are getting the best dental care available, don’t stress about a negative review here or there.

There are going to be people that no matter what you do or how many times you bend over backward to take care of them, they are still going to complain. Be sure that you are not focusing all your attention on these people; instead focus your attention on making sure you are operating the best office that you possibly can.

Ensure your patients feel they have received amazing care and customer service and don’t worry about those few you cannot make happy.

Laura Nelson

Laura Nelson, BS, MS, FAADOM is the founder and driving force behind Front Office Rocks, and the leading provider of on-demand virtual training and resources for dental practices.