Potential customers regularly use the internet to find information about prospective dental practices and will often incorporate reviews into their decision-making process. Using management tools from Dental Intelligence can help build up your portfolio of online reviews, but you will still have to implement strategies for dealing with the occasional negative review.
While bad customer reviews can feel like a potential landmine, they can be a great marketing opportunity if handled correctly. Showing your customers that you can handle negative feedback and take their complaints seriously can foster trust. Properly addressed online reviews will also reassure new patients that they won’t have the same unpleasant experience at your practice as you’ve implemented methods to address the problem.
Best Practices for Handling Bad Customer Reviews
Correctly responding to negative reviews can be tricky, so it’s vital to have several best practices in place. These ensure your staff has the tools necessary to deal with unhappy customers appropriately and that your response to the poor review cements your reputation as a dental practice that cares about its patients’ experience and wellbeing.
Remember HIPAA Compliance and Consent Regulations
HIPAA regulations can present a barrier to how you respond to unhappy patients. By law, you cannot respond in any way that reveals any patient health information, including the fact that the patient was at your practice, without their consent. So while patients can discuss anything about their experience at your practice, if you respond with any patient-specific information, you could face steep HIPAA fines.
Similarly, some states have restrictions on how you can communicate with patients. For example, you may need to obtain written consent before responding to any complaints via email. A smart alternative to email is to simply phone patients — phone calls often provide a more meaningful communication channel where it’s easier to resolve complex concerns without worrying about HIPAA and state regulations.
Take Time to Cool Down and Plan Your Response
While you need to respond to bad customer reviews, it’s also a good idea to wait a few hours before responding. This break is the perfect time to plan your response while giving you time to cool down and look at the situation from the patient’s perspective. Planned responses have a better chance of sounding genuine and turning a bad situation into a positive opportunity.
Own Any Mistakes Your Practice Made
Even the best-run practice will make mistakes; the best way forward is to own the mistake and learn from it. As long as the concern is legitimate, you can respond appropriately by:
- Admitting you made a mistake, without any deflections or defending arguments
- Offering to fix the mistake, either through compensation or additional treatment
- Outlining the steps you’ve taken so that other customers won’t have the same bad experiences
Avoid Prolonged Discussions
It’s incredibly easy to get into arguments online, which can be extremely damaging to your online reputation. Not only do extensive discussions improve the visibility of the negative review, but they also legitimatize it and make your practice seem defensive. Instead, craft a one-time response, and if the discussion continues, ask the customer to contact the practice directly.
Understand How Review Sites Work and Remove Potentially Libelous Reviews
Not all bad customer experiences are legitimate, and some bad actors may use review sites to defame your practice. It’s important to understand your options, including knowing what tools you have available to respond to and resolve conflicts.
Most review sites have policies to prevent libel, including removing the offending review and banning the poster. Following the site’s terms and conditions is often sufficient to prevent actively defamatory reviews from impacting your practice.
Reach Out to Unhappy Customers
Proactively reaching out to unhappy patients can do a lot to repair the situation. Simply contacting the patient by phone and discussing further options or offering compensation for their bad experience can often lead to patients updating their bad customer reviews and ratings.
Stay On Top of Your Reviews
Your online reputation is essential to your success as a dental practice, and review management is a key component to developing and maintaining your reputation. Whether you want to learn how to get more online reviews or discover how to respond to reviews appropriately, Dental Intelligence is here to help. Schedule a free demo today!