Online Practice Reputation Management: Hugging Your Haters and Reclaiming Negative Reviews

In a society where 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations, reputation is everything. For most small businesses, marketing success is directly linked to their online reputation.

With just a few keystrokes, your dental practice’s online reputation can be built up or torn down. It’s not just negative reviews on Yelp or Google that can affect your practice: your own social media habits can be doing more harm than good.

Jay Baer, in his book, Hug Your Haters, proposes a solution to online review management. It’s pretty simple, answer every review, every time, everywhere, no matter what. Now, while this seems simple in theory, the practice is extremely hard without the proper tools. Finding a tool that can aggregate online reviews and give you the tools to respond to everyone in a reliable way will certainly make things easier. However, knowing what to say is the truly challenging part.

In an ideal world, all of your practice’s online reviews would be positive. No one wants to receive an unfavorable review, but they’re bound to happen and what matters most is how you respond.

It’s easy to respond defensively to a negative review. That response however, can be a major detriment to your online reputation. A kind, thoughtful response shows that your practice values its patients, and prospective patients who read it will take notice. In fact, a 2015 study by Edison research states that a positive interaction with a negative review will actually increase the brand advocacy of the reviewer by as much as 25%. Meaning, they’re 25% more likely to recommend you than they would have had everything been fine and they had not left a review.*

One word of advice, be sincere. No one likes a one-sided conversation. When it comes to your practice, it’s best to lean towards resolving the issues without blatantly asking for their business back. No one wants to be seen as a dollar sign. Instead respond with something like this, “I’m so sorry that our hygienist didn’t listen to you as well as you wanted her to. We will make sure at our next staff meeting to go over respectful listening skills and reinforce how listening is one of our main values. If there is anything else that you think would improve our practice, please let us know…” and you could go on. 

This approach enforces that before you even think about winning business back, that you will improve your practice in the way that you fell short. It also demonstrates that you are listening as a practice and literally shows them your efforts rather than telling them that you hope they give you another chance.

Hugging your haters is vital in improving your practice’s online reputation. It will make the difference between appearing like a practice that simply solicits positive reviews in exchange for an incentive and a practice that genuinely cares about all of its patients, even the ones that don’t like your practice anymore.

David Pearson is a Senior Campaign Marketing Manager for Henry Schein One and has been marketing to businesses for over 7 years. His passion is storytelling and helping people to understand marketing with simple, measurable goals that will help them succeed.