Online Reviews and Reputation Management

Filed under: Communication, Social Media

This article was originally published on June 3, 2022, and is currently updated for 2024.

While it may be a sign of personal maturity not to worry about what people think of you, that kind of indifference doesn’t cut it in the business world. When patients have strong opinions about their dentist’s office it can matter very much to a dental practice.

Word-of-mouth referrals have always been around, but they’re now shared online on any number of social media platforms or applications geared specifically to reviews. According to Pew research, at least 93% of people searching for goods or services for the first time will use one of these sites. For dentists, some of the top search tools prospective patients may use include:

  • Google Business
  • Yelp
  • Facebook Ratings
  • Healthgrades
  • Nextdoor
  • 1-800 Dentist
  • Vitals
  • RateMDs

While some may use stars or a grading system, others like Facebook or Nextdoor rely on personal recommendations between friends and neighbors. So how do you find out what people are saying about your business? And how do you control the narrative? There are steps you can take.

Your Online Reputation

A business not only relies on how well they perform a service, but also the public’s perception of them. Therefore, protecting your brand while ensuring a patient’s positive experience and impression is vital to your success.

It’s important to establish accounts on the most popular review sites and apps so patients know where to share their experience, and you know where to find them. It’s also wise to google your name and business regularly to see if there is any social media conversation flying under your radar.

In addition to researching and monitoring your own online presence, there are a few important steps to managing reviews and comments that can impact your reputation: respond immediately, engage positive feedback, and review regularly.

You’ll need to set up protocols within your office on handling your online profiles and dedicate a staff member or marketing team to manage engagement and responses – both good and bad.

Managing the Negative

All businesses are bound to receive a negative review or rating at some point, whether the complaint is valid or not. How you handle those issues can make all the difference.

Don’t ignore the complainant, even if you aren’t positive they’re a patient of yours. Other reviewers will take note if the business responds, and almost 90% of them are more likely to engage with those who reply to all reviews. Answer politely and professionally, offering to discuss the issue offline and providing a phone number or email contact.

However, do not discuss the reviewer’s status as a patient as that is a violation of HIPAA – even if you suspect it may be a fake account making the post. If you check your records and establish that the negative reviewer isn’t a patient – they probably won’t respond to your invitation to discuss offline either – there are steps to take.

Gather your proof and report them immediately to the platform in question. The main sites such as Google have protocols and steps to take to identify and remove fake reviews.

Accentuating the Positive

Having a five-star rating on your practice isn’t about ego – it’s about free advertising that can show a return on your investment of time and excellent service. And when it comes to positive reviews, more is better: consumers read at least 10 reviews before making a decision.

There are several ways to enhance your online reputation and increase your patient feedback. The simplest way is to ask your patients to share their positive experience online as they’re scheduling their next appointment. However, most people will forget so it’s wise to automate the request with follow-up emails, texts or phone calls. These can be added to your front office systems or handled through review-requesting software tools.

When possible, use those positive reviews as testimonials on your website and in your marketing collateral. Be sure to ask permission of the patient first or use their initials. Engage regularly on review sites, expressing appreciation to reviewers for their positive comments and showing people that your practice cares about their patients.

Reviews, Reputation, and ReviewStreams

Although it’s a reality that public opinion and word-of-mouth can drive a business, providing superior dental care is your first priority. That’s why ReviewStreams – RAMP’s new risk-free review generation service – does the work for you. By garnering more positive reviews and preventing negative posts, ReviewStreams helps build your reputation, acquire new patients, and increase your chances of being first choice in online searches.

You can’t underestimate the importance of stars, reviews, and how you handle both positive and negative feedback, but you can take the worry out of it with the assistance of RAMP. Schedule a complimentary strategy session to learn more.