Tackling Your Online Reviews

By: Faiza Akbar

Today, more than ever, online reviews have become just as important as word of mouth, making it critical to maintain a positive online presence. Online reviews are often the first point of contact for many of your potential patients. They are an authentic and reliable way for potential patients to make a quick decision about whether or not they want to visit your healthcare practice. 90% of consumers state that they read less than 10 reviews to form their opinion of a business, giving you only a brief window to convince them why they should visit your healthcare practice. There is no doubt that finding a practice with stellar reviews and 5-star ratings would be a clear, convincing factor for most, but how do you get there? With countless platforms for online reviews, managing them can seem like a daunting task. However, as with any other facet of marketing, managing this diligently and proactively is an asset to your practice's reputation.

Related Article : Online Reputation Management for Practices


The first step is figuring out which review websites you need to focus on. Not all reviews hold the same weight. Google Reviews are the most frequently read, and what patients are most likely to be familiar with. Before a potential patient even gets to your website, the first things they see (if you have excellent SEO rankings [How to improve your SEO]) when they Google you, along with your contact information, are the reviews people have left.
After Google, your next two focal points might be a social media platform like Facebook and a general review platform like Yelp. Collectively, these three sites account for 80% of online reviews. Only after considering these should you turn your focus on industry specific review sites. Whether RateMDs or HealthGrades, you should focus on the one with the largest engagement in your area, which you might determine by searching "Best (Dentist) in (your area)", for example.


Once you have decided which websites are best aligned with the interests of your patients and practice, it's time to get to work. Managing online reviews is not a one time project. It is something that requires your ongoing attention. 73% of consumers find reviews older than 3 months to be outdated and irrelevant, so it's important to ensure you have new and updated ones. Monitoring your reviews is the first step to achieve this. If you notice a streak of reviews that simply leave star ratings and no comments, you can encourage your patients to leave more detailed reviews. Try gently suggesting patients who give you positive feedback in person, to also leave an online comment. You can also ask for reviews in your monthly newsletter, on a section on the homepage of your website, through email reminders, or at the end of each appointment. This way, you can keep your reviews updated so that they appear more trustworthy and relevant to potential and returning patients.


Whether the review is good or bad, responding is important. This shows that you're proactive, aware of your patients' needs, and value their opinions. You're essentially establishing a two-way communication line, letting patients talk and responding appropriately. However, crafting the perfect response is something that requires precision and understanding, which can be achieved as long as you are prepared.
  • Set Up a Review Protocol

    Unfortunately, getting a negative review is not a matter of if, but rather when. Regardless of how great your practice may be, people are bound to get frustrated at one point or another. The best thing you can do is be prepared. You and your team should be equipped with a set of steps to follow when you receive a negative review: verify authenticity (see how to do this below), flag if spam, respond. If you have a well outlined list of steps to go through, no review will take you by surprise.
  • Act Fast

    If an angry reviewer decides to take to your page to unleash their wrath, unless you act fast and respond appropriately, this can leave a bad impression. Responding appropriately includes doing so in a timely fashion and the longer you put off responding to the negative review, the more likely it is that a new potential patient will see your lack of response. If you wait too long to respond, it might also become harder to resolve the issue as the reviewer might feel that their concern was not a priority.
  • Resolve

    Despite how fast you act and how tactful your review protocol is, it is important to try to resolve the issue. A frustrated patient will only get more agitated if they feel their concerns are not being taken seriously. Be understanding when it comes to negative reviews. It is possible the patient was having a bad day, or perhaps they misunderstood a situation, but be open to the possibility that perhaps they are being completely reasonable. After hearing them out, make sure to empathize and apologize. Show them that they are being heard and understood, and tell them what you are going to do to remedy the situation. Do what you can within your capacity to figure out why the issue occurred and what you can do to prevent it from happening again.
For a more detailed breakdown on how to respond, see this related article: 5 Ways to Publicly Respond to a Bad Online Review

Check Authenticity

One of the downsides of the freedom on the internet is inauthenticity. There is always a chance that the negative review you received is made up. If you suspect a reviewer might be phony, there are a few things you should consider. Start out by checking their review history. Are they an active poster? Have they been leaving the same comment on multiple businesses? Have they posted a ton of reviews in a span of a few minutes? These are all grounds for flagging or reporting the review - but in the meantime, if possible, do respond in a similar fashion as some of these examples.

"Hi, *name,* We take these matters very seriously, unfortunately, we have no record of any customer experience fitting this account, nor can we verify your identity from your name in our records. If you were a client of ours , we would like to investigate this issue further, please contact *person's name* at *company email address* so that we can resolve this issue immediately."

Don't Overlook Positive Reviews

It can be easy to find yourself overwhelmed after reading a bad review, but remember not to expend all your energy on just that. Positive reviews are integral to your online reputation. If a patient has taken the time to write out a good review, you should thank them for it by showing some sort of acknowledgement. If patients feel that they are appreciated, they are more likely to return, and also to recommend your practice to others. As word-of-mouth still remains the most prominent form of hearing about new businesses, it is important to take advantage of that. Keeping your customers happy online will ensure they spread a good word offline.
Examples of appropriate responses to positive reviews by Maple Dental Health and Lawrence West Dental.

Removal as a Last Resort

Trying to get a negative comment removed through contacting Google should be the last resort. Unless the review appears to be spam or fabricated for no reason other than to be malicious, you should always try to remedy the situation first. Chances are, if the problem is acknowledged, fixed, and incentivized, the reviewer will delete the comment themselves. Another thing to remember is that the more positive reviews you get, the less prominent the negative ones will become. In fact, seeing how you handle the negative review might even be more appealing to patients than seeing a perfectly clean slate.

We hope that by now cleared some concepts about the importance of maintaining a positive online reputation in a strategic way to ensure the competitiveness of your healthcare practice. If you are looking to manage your online presence, contact UpOnline to learn more about our reputation management services.