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Negative reviews are never pleasant, especially when your online brand is an essential part of growing your practice. Research shows that almost 80 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. When your services are challenged, it’s important to react quickly and effectively. 

People leave negative reviews for various reasons: poor customer service, disappointing outcomes, price, poor communication or misaligned expectations, etc. It’s important to understand not just what’s being said but why they are saying it. 

“The first thing we do is make the customer feel heard. Jump too quickly to trying to solve the problem and some will think you didn’t take the time to fully understand the problem – and how it made the customer feel,” explains Craig Bloem, founder and CEO of LogoMix. “Listen, ask questions, and then validate the customer’s feelings.”

The truth is that not all bad reviews are bad for business. The key is to treat a negative online review as an opportunity to reinforce your practice with a caring, trusting, and professional message. When a negative review appears, you need to respond quickly, offer solutions, and be open to customer feedback. 

Respond Quickly

In some cases, online consumers post comments to see if someone actually responds. At this stage, it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe the reviewer is right. Instead, it’s important to quickly acknowledge the reviewer, apologize, and offer a solution. 

If your practice doesn’t have a review management process, now is the time to establish one or consider outsourcing the task. Not only will the review management agency stay on top of your online reviews, but they can handle negative feedback objectively and formulate responses as an effective marketing tool to promote your practice. 

Keep Your Response Solution-Focused

A negative review is an opportunity to build trust in your practice. “People who post negative reviews of your business are doing you a favor,” explains Scott Greggory of the Forbes Advisory Council. “They’re telling you about a weakness that may be costing you customers.”

Scott adds that we should resist the temptation to snap back. Rather we should consider the reviewer’s points with as much emotional distance as possible, thank them, and fix the problem. “Yes, it can be hard to respond politely to attacks—unless you view them as opportunities,” he says. 

Be Honest

If there was a breakdown in the customer’s experience, own up to it and respond with honesty and a commitment to remedy the situation. Now isn’t the time to post a bunch of excuses for poor customer service. Instead, thank the reviewer for sharing their concerns, then reach out to contact you privately to discuss a solution.

But what if you encounter a negative review with no merit? For example, your dental office gets a one-star review because traffic was bad on the day of the patient’s appointment. Experts agree that you don’t have to respond to baseless reviews. 

“This type of review without credibility should be flagged and hopefully removed,” says T. Maxwell of the Forbes Agency Council. “But, if there is credibility, then own it, apologize and ask the reviewer to contact you offline. This is an opportunity to gain loyalty.”

Your online audience offers exciting opportunities to promote new services, show appreciation for loyal customers, and share wellness information on oral care. But when reviewers don’t share your enthusiasm, it’s more important than ever to make an extra effort to show that you do your best to provide the best care possible. Respond quickly, offer solutions, and be open to customer feedback, and you’ll reap positive outcomes from your negative reviews.