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You may have the best clinical “chops” in the business. But if the word on the Internet “street” is that patients are uncomfortable with you and your practice, you won’t see many new dental patients.
The single thing that can wreck your marketing campaign is a less-than-stellar online reputation.
Thanks to social media, it’s likely that most people today have more impersonal relationships than they do personal relationships. And, thanks to social media, disgruntled patients can reach more prospective patients than has ever been possible.
And that could be the kiss of death for your practice.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid each and every negative review. Some people will complain about the smallest things for no reason. Fortunately, many people can tell when a criticism isn’t justified.
But any negative review will bring down your online rating on Yelp and HealthGrades.
To keep your online reputation sterling, there are two separate but related strategies you should adopt: Prevention and Remediation.
Your Prevention strategy begins with a look around your office. The goal is to give patients as little as possible to object to. So, with that in mind:
- Is your seating adequate and comfortable?
- If you use background music, is it at low volume?
- Does the lighting work for patients who are trying to fill out intake forms?
- Do your treatment rooms offer patients any privacy, or are patients exposed to everyone who passes by in the hall?
- How’s the noise level?
- Do you have head and knee pillows for people with physical challenges?
- Are you using any measures to reduce objectionable odors?
Once you’ve determined that the physical aspects of your dental practice are as comfortable as your budget will allow, it’s time to look at the operational aspects.
- Have you provided your office staff with phone training? One insensitive or inappropriate remark can cost you a new patient.
- Are appointments for new patients, particularly emergency cases, readily available? If not, they’ll find someone else.
- Do you have an appointment confirmation process in place?
- Are you tracking your actual vs. scheduled appointment lengths? Long waits lead to unhappy patients.
- Are your insurance and payment processes smooth?
Once you’ve done everything you reasonably can to enhance your patients’ overall experience, it’s time to deal with the unavoidable negative review.
The Remediation phase involves two steps: preparation and protocol. Preparation is having an ongoing, near real-time process for monitoring your online reputation. The last thing you want to do is to leave one or more online complaints unaddressed for days or even weeks.
Protocol involves having pre-defined steps that you take in the determined order to address negative reviews.
Remember that your goal is to satisfy all your patients. Let your anger or hurt die down before doing anything else.
- Respond positively and helpfully online to online complaints. Some complaints actually point out deficits in your practice, and you should be grateful for that.
- Respond privately to patients who aren’t satisfied with your online response. That may be an email, a printed letter, or a phone call. Every case is different, so you’ll have to determine how far you’re willing to go to address a complaint.
- Set a limit. Once you’ve done everything you can to blunt the impact of a bad review, put it aside and move on.
Keep your online reputation polished, and you’ll find that you attract more new dental patients.