Good afternoon Dr. 

I'm sorry to hear that you've received a negative review. We see this a lot and often times the review is unfair, untrue or related to financials. Most of the time it's largely overshadowed by positive reviews and holds almost no impact on the true reputation of the practice. 

Below is a guide on how to handle the situation. 

Is the Bad Review Real?

The first type of poor review can be totally illegitimate. How do you recognize it? There is usually outsized anger in its tone; it may be nonsensical or feature personal attacks; it aims to hurt instead of offering anything constructive. In working with many dental clients over the years, we have learned this type of bad review may not even come from an actual patient. It may be a disgruntled ex-employee behind the keyboard, a competitor, or a former patient who is dealing with underlying issues.

What should you do? First, don’t let it ruin your day, as hard as that may be. Evaluate where it came from. Decide whether you can contest the review and have it removed from the site. That, of course, will depend on the site; some are more difficult than others. If the review contains hate speech or is blatantly false, it may be worth contacting the site. Here's a link to how to refute a Google review:

Should You Respond to Illegitimate Reviews?

If you plan to report the review for removal, you should NOT respond to it. It has been our experience that after you comment, Google is even less likely to remove it. 

If you do respond to the review, you must do so in a way that does not confirm a patient's identity or respond to their treatment or experience in the practice. Instead of saying, "You didn't pay your bill." You should instead say, "It is our policy that payment is received prior to treatment." Instead of saying, "Your relationship with the insurance company is not our responsibility." You may say, "It is our policy to aid in the utilization of insurance, however cannot be held liable for the insurance's decision regarding a patient's insurance coverage." As a rule of thumb, avoid the words "you" "your" and patient's names. Be sure not to imply anything while defending your policies. 

When Good Patients Leave Bad Reviews

What if an actual patient puts a legitimate complaint on blast? A real patient may be shy about telling you something in person but finds courage behind the keyboard. Acknowledge the complaint and decide whether it has merit. If you know who the reviewer is, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Inquire with genuine concern, promise to address the issue (and follow through), and then politely request that they remove the review or amend it with a follow-up. You would be surprised how many reviewers will comply; often, they just want to be heard.

Remember You Are Not Alone

You can be the kindest provider in the world with the most helpful and accommodating staff and hundreds of loyal patients – and still get a few bad reviews. It seems unfair but it happens to just about everyone at some point. If you are the target, take a few deep breaths and remember this is a moment in time. If you are the office manager, just be there and provide support for the provider.

Solicit Positive Reviews

Make sure the good outweighs the bad. Get into the habit of asking satisfied patients to provide reviews and be proactive in gathering them yourself. Solicit kudos via text, social media, or postcards. With written permission, post short reviews with photos or create video testimonials during follow-up appointments. These are enormously powerful reputation management tools that will overwhelm and “push down” negative reviews you can’t remove. Give your satisfied patients a list of review sites on which to share their positive experiences. Above all, lean back on your good reputation and ramp up a program that keeps positive patient experiences in the spotlight.

We hope you found this guidance helpful. Our team will also report the review for removal in the hopes that it helps. 

Additional video resource: