Welcome to the Marketing Chairside Podcast by Pro Impressions Marketing, where the team covers a variety of dental marketing ideas to help you attract more new patients in the quantity and quality you need to grow your practice.
It’s a great feeling when you get a good review, but it’s an equally horrible feeling when your dental office gets a negative review. Unfortunately according to The Mirror and data posted by Trustpilot, in the last year, online reviews that are positive had slumped by 5%, and actually that means that that negative reviews kind of pound for pound are up. For dentists, that doesn’t feel good.
Dentists ask me all the time, how can I get this review taken down? Usually, it’s in a panic because you get this negative review. That happens. I’m going to help you with some tips on what you can do, but the first thing I want to get out there is you can’t take it down, and really neither can we, your marketing people. There are limitations that these online profiles, Google, Facebook, Yelp, all of them put in place to protect the freedom of users to express themselves.
So when they’re expressing themselves about how terrible you are, we want to scramble for ways to just nuke that thing. But unfortunately you can’t do that. What you can do is flag it as inappropriate. There are terms of service that Google has that prevent things like abusive language and conflict of interest that give us the ability to flag that and then their reviewers will check things out and say, “Aha, yep, this is no good,” and take it down.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t really include things that they might say that make you look bad, even if they’re false because Google is not interested in ‘he-said, she-said’ argument. In point of fact, prospective patients that see these reviews aren’t interested in that either. So assuming that you’ve flagged it as inappropriate, and if it is and it doesn’t get taken down, then you have to just move down this list of what you can do.
I would actually recommend that you contact the patient. Now, this depends on the situation. It depends on the dentist who should reach out to that patient. But I have seen it so many times, when the dentist actually reaches out and says, “Ooh, I saw this review. I thought we had dealt with this situation,” or, “I had no idea that you were feeling this way. It hurts me to read these words.” Use emotional words.
The patient can’t disagree with you if you say, “I am just shocked and hurt to see what you wrote about my practice. We offered you these things to try to make this situation right,” or “You didn’t even tell us that you were unhappy. I was so shocked to read what you said. We can do these things and deal with this. Would you please take down that review? Because it hurts our business. It’s not what our patients experience when they come to our office.”
Be polite, but don’t be afraid of that confrontation there to just say, “This is how I’m feeling having read that, and this is what we do in these situations. Is that not going to make it right for you?” You may not come to agreement, but often just by having made that phone call, and make it a phone call, don’t just email because then you really haven’t had that emotional confrontation, but if you make that phone call, there is a good chance that that patient after the fact having heard how you’re feeling and cooled down themselves will take down the review.
If they don’t, then you’re going to have to respond. You want to, again, do that after having cooled off. You don’t want to hop online and just blast things out there because you will end up sounding as unhinged as the patient’s claiming you are or may have made the situation sound so dire. Then if you jump in with a hot-headed response, you’re going to make a bad situation worse. It’s often a good idea to respond using the help of an intermediary.
We offer our clients online reputation management services where we’ll get the information from the dental office, what happened, and look at the review and formulate a response that makes the practice sound amazing. We do that by not, again, putting in, ‘he-said, she-said’ type information. In fact, that could be a HIPAA violation. So you want to respond using what typical patients experience at your office and what you typically do in these situations. If an apology is owed, offer it because that’s a important situation.
You can also use some of these feeling words to say, “We were shocked and dismayed to see this review.” You can call it out if there’s a patient what you feel like is a fake name and you can’t find any patient in your database by that name, I would go ahead and feel free to say that, “We’re shocked and dismayed to read this review. We don’t have a patient by this record. Our patients in these situations usually experience this. We’re known for our professionalism or we’re known for our timely service and that’s why most of our reviews are five star reviews. Please contact our office. We’d certainly like to make this situation right.”
That type of response when the review is over the top emotional and using multiple exclamation points and capital letters and just is the ugliness of the internet right there in your Google profile. A level head to response can take that negative and turn it into a positive. In the right circumstances, you can also leverage legal action. You probably have an attorney on retainer. You have some sort of relationship where you could have your attorney write up a letter and send it to the patient and ask them to take it down.
I would not use this on every negative review you have that comes in. That will harm your reputation in your market ultimately. But if this is a patient that is just gone bananas, blasted every single profile you have with something that’s defamatory and really could constitute a reason for a lawsuit, then by all means get an attorney involved. It works. I have not yet personally experienced a situation where there was a negative review and a practice got a lawyer involved and the reviews weren’t taken down. So that is an option in extreme circumstances that you can use.
But the fifth thing I want you to keep in mind is that just leaving it alone is okay after you respond. Just knowing that everyone gets negative reviews and it can actually be a positive because Google expects that a thriving business will get reviews on a regular basis, not necessarily all five star reviews. That’s just natural that a business is occasionally going to have someone who has a bad day at your office. So it’s not the end of the world, even though those words sting, just know that you’re in good company. It happens and you’ll be all right.
I hope that helps. If you have questions, reach out to us at or you can call us absolutely and we’ll chat with you about what you’ve got going on. Like, subscribe, follow us and we’ll get you more tips like this about how you can improve your dental marketing and find more ideal patients on the internet. Thanks.