​Have you had this scenario happen to you? Many dentists have. Let’s say your practice gets a bad Google Review containing outright lies or misrepresentations.

You’re accused of malpractice, or that your staff were incompetent or mistreated them in some way. Or, that you overcharged them by over diagnosing their case. Perhaps you discover that the complaining “patient” was never a patient in your practice at all!

This last one happens more often than you would think. You would certainly be justified in being upset about this.

Online Reputation Management Tips for Dentists

By now you are itching to write a scathing response you think will expose this person as a liar or worse. Please don’t do that. As difficult as it is, you should refrain from posting an angry denial. Responses like; “The x-rays we did clearly showed that you were in need of a root canal. Any competent dentist would see the obvious.”

If you posted this you would be in violation of HIPAA regulations. By divulging anything about the patient’s case, or their name or address or anything about their diagnosis, you will run afoul of HIPAA rules. Basically, if you say anything at all about the patient’s treatment you would be in big trouble. So please, don’t go there.

You want to respond (and you should) but your response shouldn’t land you in more trouble! It will only make things worse for you, including penalties you don’t want to incur.

So, what do you do?

This is where Reputation Management becomes a necessity. What is Reputation Management?

Online Reputation Management consists of monitoring the Internet and social media for mentions of your name or your practice, to ensure sure you always know what others are saying about you. This way you can respond to and attempt to resolve any negative mentions or criticisms or references.

Here are three tips for dental reputation management that will help you navigate this difficult situation.

Dental reputation management tips:

#1. Always respond to reviews (good, bad and in between).For good reviews, offer your thanks and appreciation and mention how glad you are to have them as a patient. For not so good reviews, your response should be tempered with empathy. Any other response will start an argument (that you will never win). Instead, show that you take their comments seriously and you want to make things right. Say that you are available for a consultation to fully explore their complaint. Invite them to call you directly. Above all, never get defensive. It will only cause the author of the bad review to respond, repeat and amplify their accusations.

#2.You should monitor any mentions of your practice online in order to address any negatives. This goes for social media as well. Probably the easiest way to do this is Google Alerts. You enter your practice name, or the doctor’s name, and you will receive notifications whenever you or your practice gets mentioned in the media. These alerts let you know what’s being said about you so you can be aware you are being talked about. Then you can craft an empathetic response.

#3. Drown any bad reviews with a flood of good reviews. By now most people understand any business will occasionally get a bad review. In fact, some people may be suspicious of a business having ONLY 5-star reviews without any negative comments. People know that zero bad reviews is almost an impossibility. They also know there are always a few cranks that seem to have nothing else to do other than to rant about some dental practice or other business.

The takeaway: Always ask for reviews from your patients. This process can be automated. There are several “review getting” software programs that will contact the patient by text or email and politely ask about their experience in your practice and request they post a Google Review.

Other automated programs will not only monitor news stories but can also check social media for any mentions of your business.

Negative or positive online reviews WILL have an impact your business.

Research has shown that online reviews affect 90% of buying decisions. And 86% of users will hesitate to choose your practice if you have multiple negative reviews. Also, 49% of consumers expect a 4-Star rating before they will consider calling your practice.

Reviews are THAT important!

About the Author: Sachin Bathla

Sachin manages content & SEO clients at New Patients INC, a dental marketing company that helps dentists and dental clinics to find new patients and enhance their online reputation. You can follow his company on Facebook and Linkedin.

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