Step-By-Step Guide: Responding To Negative Reviews For Dentists


Taylor Reaume

Taylor Reaume
Founder of Search Engine Pros

From: Taylor Reaume, “The Life-Like Web Guy”

Yes, positive online reviews do matter to customers. This report from Vendasta shows that 92% of people read online reviews and 88% take them into account when making purchasing decisions, while 80% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. Even so, it’s not the end of the world if you receive a negative review. In fact, if you respond in the right way, you can use the opportunity to show customers how much you care about their satisfaction.

Ultimately, what matters when you receive negative reviews is how you respond to them. If a business resolves its issues quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers return, concludes Vendasta. Look at it this way: receiving a negative review gives you the chance to rectify problems with your service and if you respond correctly, you can resolve the situation and win prospective customers over by showing them that you take notice of your customers’ opinions.

Monitoring Reviews

Before you learn how to respond to negative reviews, you have to spot them by monitoring your business’ online presence across all review and social media platforms. Here are some key ways you can do this:

  • Set up Google alerts about your business so you’re notified when someone mentions your company online.
  • Claim your business on big review sites so that you’re in control of your online profile and can respond to reviews.
  • Set up Google My Business to respond to Google reviews and also help your business show up in Search Engine Results Pages.

In the Dentistry world, the most popular review sites, according to Dentistry IQ, are HealthGrades followed by Yelp, Vitals and ZocDoc but don’t forget Google and Facebook too. Regularly monitor your business profile on these pages and always reply to reviews, whether they’re good or bad.


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So, What’s The Best Way To Respond To Negative Reviews?

  • Take a step back. Don’t ever respond to a review in anger as you’ll most likely come across as defensive, unprofessional and petty. Step away, calm down and try to look at the review objectively.
  • Don’t ignore the review. Taking the time to respond to negative reviews shows customers that you care and want to make things right. Make sure that you respond to a review publically, as well as privately, to let potential customers see that you’re attempting to fix the problem.
  • Understand the issue. Read through a negative review multiple times to make sure you understand the problem. Look at their patient notes and talk to any staff mentioned in the review to find out what went wrong.
  • If you believe the review isn’t genuine because, for instance, you’ve never had a patient with that name or you believe that the reviewer has confused your business with someone else’s, alert the review site. They will have a process to deal with this. If someone is making a serious accusation about your business, such as malpractice, consult a legal professional.
  • Remember not to include private information. Before you start formulating a response, remember to adhere to HIPPA privacy rules which prevent you from divulging anything about the patient’s health, including the fact that you’ve treated them.
  • Always apologize. After reviewing the issue objectively, you might decide that the review is an overreaction, or realize that it highlights a legitimate problem with your business. Regardless, start your response by apologizing for the fact that the customer has had a negative experience. This doesn’t necessarily mean admitting that you did something wrong, it’s about acknowledging that the customer feels they didn’t receive a good service. You could say something like:
  • If the customer has highlighted a legitimate problem with your service, thank them for bringing it to your attention and let them know that you’re taking steps to fix the issue with a statement like:
  • Offer a resolution. Try to fix things with your customer, this can mean inviting them back to the surgery for further treatment or follow-up care, or offering a partial or full refund. Either way, this should be discussed privately offline. Make it easy for the customer to contact you in your review response with a statement like:
  • Follow up privately. After you’ve responded publically, follow up with the patient privately too. Call or email them to discuss the problem and work towards a solution. This is especially important because the customer may not realize you’ve left them a reply on a review site.

Combating Negative Reviews

Obviously, the best way to combat negative reviews is to provide a good service in the first place. This doesn’t just mean in the treatment room but throughout all stages of the patient journey, from making a booking to arriving at reception, making payments or organizing follow-up care. Make sure that all of your staff members are fully trained to provide excellent customer service and deal with complaints.

Most review sites won’t allow you to delete negative reviews but aside from resolving the problem, the best way to deal with poor reviews is to dilute them with plenty of positive ones. So, don’t be afraid to ask loyal, satisfied customers to leave a review of your practice. According to this BrightLocal survey, seven out of 10 customers are happy to leave a review of a company if they’re asked to.

With that in mind, make it easy for your customers to review you. Send them a link in an email or provide easy-to-follow steps for leaving a review. Go ahead and share those great reviews on your website and social media pages and don’t forget to thank your patients online and in person for the feedback.


Taylor Reaume

Taylor Reaume

“The Life-Like Web Guy”

Taylor Reaume is the Life-Like Webmaster and founder of Search Engine Pros, a multi-touch online marketing agency offering full service web strategy, including search engine optimization, pay per click and social media consulting.

Taylor started designing websites in 1998, and has built over 600 sites, and published 30,000+ pages of content on the web. As his web business grew, he started to offer SEO services, and became a local authority on SEO because word got around that one of the sites was getting over 200,000 unique visitors per month… which led to the sale of the site for six figures in 2007.

He resides in sunny Santa Barbara, CA and spends most of his days solving the world’s web related problems, dancing salsa and whitening his teeth.