Unfortunately, every business will experience negative reviews, no matter how hard they focus on delivering quality service. Mishaps and miscommunications happen. And online users won’t hesitate to share their opinions online.

What should your practice do about negative online reviews? Be sure to monitor your online reputation across various review sites. Whenever you spot a negative review, know the best practices on how to respond. Also, make it a habit to request reviews from satisfied customers to ensure more positive reviews get posted online.

Monitor Your Online Reputation

What sites should you monitor? Facebook is a major source for reviews, which are tied to user profiles. Since Facebook users typically use their real names, it should be easy for you to identify and address any issues. Another important source for reviews is Google My Business. Keeping an eye on these reviews is critical as your reputation on Google ties directly to your search engine rankings.

Other sites to monitor include Yelp and the Next Door app. Both aim to provide feedback on small and local businesses, so are important spaces to maintain a positive presence.

Respond to Negative Reviews

Another key component of is responding to reviews—both positive and negative. Even if you receive a positive review that is only a few words long, a simple “thank you” shows online users that you care about patients. It also shows that you care about delivering quality service.

Of course, responding to good reviews is an easier task than handling negative reviews. Your first instinct may be to avoid poor feedback or argue your case. But those approaches are never good solutions and don’t read well on public forums. By following a few proven best practices, you can master the art of responding to negative reviews.

Share Personalized Responses

It’s tempting to have a few scripted responses that you use routinely. But that practice can make you appear disengaged or disinterested in their experiences—which can reflect poorly on your practice. Instead, respond in a way that shows you’ve read the review and understand the reviewer’s point of view.

Reference the reviewer by name and directly comment on an issue they raised in the review. If possible, ask the reviewer to move the conversation to a private space to further address the issue. That way, you’ll show the reviewer that their thoughts matter and resolve the matter privately on your terms.

Respond Quickly

For many users, leaving an online review is a way to “vent” about a poor experience. They may not be expecting their feedback to be heard or acknowledged. After all, many reviews—both positive and negative—go unanswered.

Aim to respond to reviews within a day. Yes, this can be a time-consuming task, but it’s critical. Set aside a few minutes each day to examine your online review sites—and respond to both positive and negative reviews.

Don’t leave negative reviews untouched for long. A single negative review can sometimes provoke others to share negative feedback that can harm your online reputation.

Acknowledge the Reviewer’s Perspective and Take Responsibility

Some negative online reviews raise valid points, but others may seem to have little merit. No matter the content, you should treat reviewers with courtesy. Tell each reviewer that you appreciate the time they took to leave the review and share their perspective.

Affirm your commitment to service and acknowledge the reviewer’s concerns. Let the reviewer know you’ve taken the feedback to heart and will strive to keep improving.

Instead of getting defensive about your practice and care standards, thank them for visiting your practice. Let them know that you always strive to be clear about care recommendations and pricing, but misunderstandings happen.

Communicate Next Steps

At times, you may need to handle a reviewer’s concerns personally. In those instances, make it easy for people to contact your practice and encourage them to get in touch.

Never discuss personal situations or treatment plans in a public setting. Instead, encourage reviewers to reach out to you to address these issues privately.

Automate Review Collection to Build a Positive Online Reputation

A negative review doesn’t have to have a devastating effect on your practice. Responding with empathy and acknowledging opportunities to improve can show that you care about your patients.

Another way to counter the effects of negative reviews is by proactively collecting positive reviews. This sounds daunting, but software can streamline this important part of reputation management.

By implementing practice management software, you can send automated review requests to patients after visits or consultations. They can respond with ease, and you can publish the reviews you collect out to various review sites. With this approach, you can publish a steady stream of positive reviews about your practice and ensure you maintain a positive reputation online.

Mastering Reputation Management

Today, online review sites play a major role in helping every business win new patient. Users read online reviews before engaging with a new business.

Ideally, you should look at online review sites every day, and aim to respond to all reviews within 24 hours. Although you may be tempted to ignore negative reviews, you should give them special attention. The truth is, every person has had a poor experience with a business. But it is possible to turn those poor experiences into positive ones. Responding to negative reviews with care and empathy is a step in the right direction.

When you follow these best practices, you’ll foster trust and positive sentiment. You’ll show that you take concerns to heart and that you’re always striving to improve. Would-be patients won’t feel deterred by a negative review, but see that you truly work to make each experience a positive one.  Without question, that devotion to service is certain to motivate more people to engage with your practice.

Products like Officite and Demandforce from Henry Schein One can automate the process of monitoring, collecting, and publishing reviews so patients see the best that your practice has to offer.