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Communicating in a Crisis: Dos and Don’ts for Dentists

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Patient Attraction Episode 709

How should a dentist react when a comment on your blog, a Yelp review, a Facebook post, or a Tweet says uncomplimentary or even damaging things about you or your practice? Your public image is vital to your continued success, but knee-jerk reactions to public criticism can do more harm than good. I’ll be back after the break with some thoughts about crisis management in the public sphere.

– The evolution of social media provides constant, real-time communication.

– That’s a great benefit, but it can also be a real liability for your dental practice.

– I’m Colin, and welcome to the Patient Attraction Podcast.

– Today, an unhappy patient can get their gripes in front of hundreds or thousands of people in a few minutes.

– And that instant communication can pose a real threat to your practice.

– Unlike large corporations, dental practices probably don’t have anyone constantly monitoring the social media.

– So by the time you learn about someone’s criticism, it may have been public for some time.

– The first thing to do is take a minute and think.

– That’s extra important if you’re really angry about what was posted.

– NEVER react out of anger. If you can’t calm down, have one of your staff members draft a response.

– Second, you have to decide whether the criticism is accurate.

– If so, you have some apologizing to do; the complainer has actually done you a favor, although it may not seem like that.

– That apology should be in a public reply to the public criticism on the same social medium.

– The most important thing is to not come off as defensive in your response.

– Everyone’s human, everyone makes mistakes, and your patients and followers will appreciate you owning the mistake.

– Include the fact that you’re changing your procedures to ensure that the event that sparked the criticism doesn’t happen again.

– For really serious errors, consider following up with the complainer via email, a phone call, or a written letter.

– Third, not all battles are worth fighting.

– A minor gripe that sounds like someone nitpicking doesn’t require a counterattack.

– That doesn’t mean you should ignore it.

– Give your response a light touch, but be careful with humor online, as it can really backfire.

– Something like, “We’re sorry that happened, and we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again” is enough.

– But what about the completely unfounded, really damaging criticisms?

– Those deserve a complete rebuttal.

– Again, think through your response before writing it, and have someone else read it before you post.

– A quick recounting of the actual facts may help, but don’t come off as argumentative.

– Include a link to the original complaint, or reproduce it in your response.

– Finally, have a plan in place to deal with future threats to your public image.

– That way, you have concrete steps to follow that will help you respond most appropriately.

– The best defense, of course, is to have so many positive reviews that they drown out the negative ones.

– To learn more about how we help our doctors do just that, visit smartboxdentalmarketing.com, go to the Services tab, and click on 5-Star Google Reviews.

– On tomorrow’s podcast, I’ll talk about how to handle a media interview.

– Until then, keep moving forward.

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