By Glenn Lombardi
It’s never a proud moment for dentists when they search for their practice online and stumble upon a handful — or even just one for that matter — disgruntled patient’s review. It happens to the best of us, and unfortunately, those negative reviews can’t always be avoided ... even with the best customer service.
So, how can dentists proactively monitor and limit the number of damaging reviews left by peeved patients on popular online directories and review sites?
1. Build your online presence. If you want to be in control of the information being shared about your practice on the Web, then you need to start contributing. The best way to take responsibility for your online image is with a website. A professional site built with attractive design elements, easy navigation, and helpful, search-optimized content will be appealing to your patients and the search engines while helping you claim your own online presence in your local marketplace. From there, build upon your site by claiming your local listings and adding a Facebook page and blog to create additional vehicles patients can use to learn about you online.
2. Focus on your loyal patient base. You can probably name numerous patients off the top of your head who have been coming to you for years. These patients undoubtedly enjoy your standard of care and are pleased with the services you provide. Leverage their loyalty and satisfaction by personally asking them at their next visit whether or not they would mind reviewing you. Most will be happy to review you, especially those who are savvy Internet users. When they say yes, guide them through the quick review process. You can do this by giving them an instruction card with the URL to your review sites, or by simply walking them through the review process right in your office from their smartphone.
3. Respond directly to your patients. Just because you receive a bad review doesn’t mean you need to address the angry patient online. In many cases, it’s better to let the situation fade away on its own without any type of formal response. If you can decipher who the patient is by his or her remarks, then you may choose to reply personally to the patient by phone, letter, or email. Make sure you are always sincere, briefly apologize for the situation, and let the patient know that you value his or her service and that you would like to rectify the bad experience.
However you decide to respond to a negative review, remember that not all is lost when you find a few floating around on the Internet. Just make sure you have a plan to continually monitor what’s being said about you online as well as a strategy to build upon your online presence and garner positive reviews from your already-satisfied patients.
Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, the No. 1 provider of websites and Internet presence management strategies for the dental community. Officite has built more than 6,000 websites that have generated hundreds of thousands of appointment requests since 2002. To learn more, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.
By Glenn Lombardi