The Dental Anywhere Blog

Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes When Replying to Yelp Reviews

For the past few weeks, Dental Anywhere has been exploring the topic of Yelp reviews and their complaints about dental practices. Whether or not you feel that the online reviews of your office are fair, the bottom line is: they are what potential patients find when conducting research before choosing their dentist.

Did you know that you can use your own Yelp account to reply to reviews left of your business? This allows dentists to address the concerns (or praise) mentioned by the patient. However, there is an unwritten etiquette that goes along with responding to reviews.

If somebody left you a glowing review, it is absolutely appropriate to thank them for their kind words on Yelp. Yet, when faced with a negative review, you may be fighting a knee-jerk reaction to defend yourself.

It is important to remember that patients can revise and update their Yelp reviews. Furthermore, when they update their review, the newest feedback will show more prominently, while their original thoughts will be tucked behind a “Read More” link. This means that you absolutely have influence over what is shown on your Yelp page—even after a negative review has been left!

It is pivotal that whether you choose to address concerns privately or through a Yelp comment, that you do not come across combative or defensive. You should address every complaint and compliment alike to be valid. Imagine if somebody brushed off something that upset you; wouldn’t that make you more upset? You want to take note of their concern, ask more about the incident and what you could do to make things right. Granted, sometimes we’re all faced with stubborn people, but seeking to understand each patient’s concern can leave a good impression and help reverse a negative review.

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What Not To Do:

Here are common—but inappropriate—replies to Yelp comments we found left by dentists.

“We don’t have a patient by this name.”
It seemed that many dentists tried to validate the reviewers’ complaints by looking them up in their system. When faced with an empty search, they dismissed the review by responding with something along the lines of “This is a fake review, we don’t have a patient by this name in our records.” The problem is: Yelp reviewers often post under a pseudonym to remain anonymous. We found many dentists disregarding almost every negative review left on their page with this type of response. Simply classifying these reviews as fake when you can’t find a match in your system is taking the easy way out. If you truly believe the review is unwarranted, leave a reply stating that you cannot find a record of them, but invite them to contact the office for further conflict resolution.

Cookie Cutter Responses
Each patient’s experience at your office is unique, and so should be your replies to their reviews. There were a large number of offices who reposted the same response to each negative review. Doing this can send the message that patients are not worth the time to personally write them, whether or not you really feel that way. This will reflect negatively on your patient care priorities to those who are seeking a dentist through Yelp. Leaving no response is better than one you send to everyone.

Breaking HIPAA
The most disturbing trend we found during this research was the overwhelming amount of responses from dentists that contained confidential medical information. Most of these replies were geared toward correcting details that the reviewer had mentioned in their post. Regardless of the reasons, Yelp is not a secure or private communication method. Since these messages are displayed for the public to see, mentioning the type of procedure given, their diagnosis, or even how long it has been since visiting is all in violation of HIPAA. If you want to clear something up with a patient, please do so by contacting them directly and privately. Here’s an example of what you can send a patient if you want to clear things up:

Dear (Patient’s Name),
When I cross reference your review and our records, it seems that there are some discrepancies. Please let us rectify the issue by giving us a call at (phone number). Thank you for your feedback, I hope we can connect soon.
Sincerely,
(Your Name) at (Practice Name)

It’s most appropriate to deal with negative claims about your practice privately. Once you have done so, feel free to add a comment to the review saying that you have worked out the issue with the patient.

Retaining open, friendly communication can help a patient feel more comfortable airing their concerns in-person rather than online. Allowing patients an outlet to express how they felt about their treatment is a great way to prevent them from letting it all out in a negative Yelp review. Ask them before they leave, or have a survey available for completion.

Dental Anywhere Mobile Apps is committed to facilitating patient-provider communication using the technology we have all come to rely on. We develop mobile apps that open the channel of communication to flow both ways within the dental office. Find out more on our homepage: DentalAnywhere.com

Image: iosphere / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Miranda Mendoza

Miranda is currently studying Communications at California State University, Northridge and has been with Dental Anywhere since June 2013. "My favorite part about working with Dental Anywhere is the family environment. We take care of our clients and we take care of each other, and that makes for a great company!"

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