Don’t Be the “Non-Disparagement” Dentist

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Patient Attraction Episode 973

Online reviews are a fact of life these days, and research indicates that they’re just as powerful as a personal recommendation. Some businesses have tried to stifle negative reviews by including a non-disparagement clause in their terms of service. I’ll be back after the break to tell you why that’s a horrible idea for dentists.

– Thanks for watching the Patient Attraction Podcast™.

– I’m Colin Receveur.

– You may have heard about the New York City dentist who actually took his unhappy patients to court.

– They had left negative online reviews about their experiences.

– The dentist claimed that the reviews were defamatory and hurt his future business.

– That hasn’t worked out very well for that dentist.

– Some businesses have added “non-disparagement clauses” to their terms of service, hoping to discourage negative reviews.

– Those clauses are no longer enforceable after the passage of the Consumer Review Fairness Act last December.

– The law supports consumers’ First Amendment right of free expression online.

– Clearly libelous reviews can still be contested in court.

– But businesses can no longer claim a terms of service contract violation in such suits.

– Think about it, though – who are your patients?

– In most instances, they live within 10 miles or so of your office.

– Sometimes, they’re your friends and neighbors.

– Any kind of legal action against them due to a negative online review is a horrible idea and may do more damage to your business than the review itself.

– All dentistry is local, and maintaining your image in your community is vital to your success.

– If you have a non-disparagement clause in your terms of service, remove it.

– The much better way to deal with negative reviews is to give excellent service in the first place.

– But when the inevitable unhappy patient sounds off online, you’ll gain points by handling the issue online, calmly and with understanding.

– And make sure that your happy patients are leaving an overwhelming number of positive reviews.

– Join me for our next podcast.

– Until tomorrow, keep moving forward.