The Dreaded Negative Review: What to Do if You Get One
As much as a dental practice may strive to keep patients happy, providing excellent care and service, sometimes negative reviews happen. We asked Dr. David Pearce, retired owner of a lucrative practice and current dental coach and MDA CAB member, to share some advice about how to deal with negative reviews. Watch the video for some excellent tips on preventing negative reviews and what to do if your practice gets one despite your best efforts.
The first thing Dr. Pearce wants everyone to know is that a negative review is not the end of the world. Sometimes, there was nothing you could have done to prevent it from happening. In any case, getting a negative review is an opportunity to learn and improve.
Just Like in Dental Care, Prevention is Key
You don’t have to wait until you get a negative review to address the patient experience at your practice. In fact, working on any possible shortcomings while you are receiving great reviews can help keep things fresh and customer service top of mind. When things are going well, make a point to praise your team for their exceptional customer service skills and brainstorm ways to keep the positive feedback coming. This will keep your team members from becoming complacent and can go a long way towards preventing a negative review from spoiling your perfect record.
What to Do When You Get a Negative Review
Sometimes, a negative review is inevitable. It may just be that the patient was having a bad day. It could be that something happened beyond your control. There are cases, though, in which the negative review was truly deserved because someone was not giving it their best that day. Regardless of the cause, it is important not to panic or get offended when a negative review comes your way. Instead, Dr. Pearce recommends taking stock and responding accordingly.
Step 1: Read and Reflect
As Dr. Pearce explains, a negative review is a chance to reflect on what your team is (or is not) doing daily to create an exceptional patient experience. The first thing to do is think critically about why that patient was less than satisfied. Does the reviewer’s complaint have merit? Was their experience, in fact, less than stellar? Did everyone on your team do all they could to create an atmosphere that was worthy of a better review? Answer the questions honestly and ask them of the team as well to get their thoughts. Then, have an open and calm discussion about what happened and how to prevent a similar situation in the future.
Step 2: Respond Respectfully
In the video, Dr. Pearce makes an excellent point about responding to negative reviews, whether they are deserved or not. While you may think that responding to someone who has left a negative review is acknowledging fault or inviting additional criticism, not responding at all is actually the worst thing you can do. When you neglect to respond to negative reviews, it signals to the public that you ignore complaints. No one wants to go to a dentist who doesn’t listen to their patients. A thoughtful, empathetic response is a much better approach. It tells people that your practice cares what patients think and wants to provide positive experiences. Responding positively to negative feedback shows compassion, understanding, and, most of all, that there are real human beings reading the reviews and taking them to heart.
While no dentist wants negative reviews, getting one or two is not going to sink your practice. As Dr. Pearce explains in the video, you can turn a negative review into an opportunity for growth. The important thing is that you and your team are consistently giving your best to each patient who comes through the doors. Treat a negative review like a gift, not a setback, respond to the patient who left it, and take the time to learn from it. And most importantly, don’t panic. Your practice will survive another day, and hopefully continue to do better.