12 Tips to Engage with Your Patients and Respond to Reviews Online

From your social media platforms to your online reviews, it’s important to keep a pulse on what your patients are saying and engage in positive dialogue. Proactively engaging with patients on your online platforms helps you keep your practice top of mind, highlight services and products, and get feedback from your patients. The following are best practices for engaging on your online platforms:

1. Check your social media platforms at least once a day and aim to respond to messages and questions within 12 hours. This shows your audiences that they are valued and ensures you are handling any issues quickly.

2. “Like” and respond to positive comments — even a simple “Thank you!” or “You’re welcome!” The commenter will appreciate it, and it keeps positive comments at the top of the thread.

3. Ensure that all posts and responses are on-brand, professional and respectful.

4. Hide or remove comments with inappropriate language, threats, HIPAA compromises (such as photos where individuals’ faces are shared without consent) or negative mentions of a specific doctor. Consider including these community guidelines in your “About” section.

Now, you might be wondering what to do when a patient or follower shares a negative review, comment or complaint. You may be tempted to delete the post, respond tersely or even fire back. But remember that the rest of the online community is “watching” your actions. It’s critical to show professionalism and respect and to take the time to think through the question and best response. While you can’t control every comment or review, your response may help prevent further negative feedback. The following are tips to keep in mind for negative reviews:

5. Identify sensitive questions or comments and determine the best course of response. This could include patient complaints and questions on cost, billing or office policies. A good practice is to take the conversation in private via direct message.

6. Decide whether it is worth it to respond on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, it may be best not to respond, depending on the content of the review, the volume of reviews for your practice, etc.

7. If you respond, do so in broad “all patient” terms and office policies versus getting into a direct dispute.

8. Do not get into an online debate over the incident that prompted the negative review. Doing so can look defensive or confrontational.

9. Invite the negative reviewer to contact you directly to discuss the issue further.

10. Make sure that any response represents you as a compassionate, concerned and understanding professional.

11. Consider this example response: “Our office strives to provide the best service to all patients. We would like to learn more about what happened and hope you will contact us as soon as possible.”

12. Negative reviews should not be removed, unless they include profanities or statements of hate, reference a specific provider or violate any privacy policies.

Consumers don’t expect businesses to have 100%, five-star reviews. Engaging with positive online comments and reviews, while thoughtfully handling any negative feedback, will help your practice strengthen your relationships, reputation and service to your patients.


Reprinted from Today’s FDA, Sept/Oct 2020. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view Today’s FDA archives.

Encouraging Online Reviews

By Jackie Ulasewich, Founder, My Dental Agency

By now, you’re sure to understand the importance of managing your online reputation. We know dental practices are faced with two major threats regarding their online reputation. The first, of course, is negative reviews. However, as we’ve discovered, these can be mitigated and handled appropriately in such a way that they have minimal to no impact. But the greatest threat is a negative reputation — by which we mean not having a researchable reputation at all. In fact, not having a robust reputation online can be even worse than having negative reviews! As Oscar Wilde said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

In order to generate, enhance and maintain your online reputation, we prefer using our own tried, tested and true approach: the COME ON!” Approach. Here are tips and guidance on how this approach can best help you manage your dental practice reviews:

C: Consistently ask for reviews.
We understand that directly asking patients for online reviews might not be the most comfortable thing in the world. Fret not, though; you needn’t ask every single patient to leave an online review. We’ve discovered that the best approach is to take a few minutes during a morning or weekly meeting before the doors have opened to identify which patients would be optimal to ask to leave a review. Then, identify the staff member or doctor with the best relationship with those particular patients to ask for an online review. This is perhaps the most natural and results-producing method of getting these reviews. This helps minimize awkward situations, while at the same time maximizing the number of favorable reviews.

When done with sincerity and openness with a pleased patient, you’d be surprised how willing they are to give back and leave a review as a way of saying thanks. And your patients — just like everyone else — might get a bit busy and forgetful, so this little nudge is usually all that’s needed to get the online feedback you want.

O: Office signage that motivates patients to leave reviews.
In addition to verbal requests, it really does help to have an eye-catching sign at the front desk asking your patient to leave a review. It serves as a nice, simple reminder without having to ask (or in addition to your verbal request). And with the way smartphones are used to kill time these days, it’s pretty likely that while a patient is waiting a few minutes to be called back they will take that opportunity to write a review. Get creative and put something together that catches their attention.

M: Make it easy for your patients to leave reviews.
There are many ways you can provide your patients with the steps needed to leave an online review on the platforms you’ve targeted as the most relevant to your practice. You can shoot them a text message with a link to the review page of your preferred platforms, or even send them an email that directs them to the appropriate page. Since people are busy, the last thing we and many of our patients want to do is try to figure out how to leave a review on Google, Facebook or Yelp. This is why it’s best to simply send them directly to review pages on these platforms. This eliminates the need to provide verbal step-by-step instructions on how to arrive on those sites.

E: Email and marketing campaigns that ask for reviews.
Email campaigns are great for many things, including online reputation management. You can use your email campaign to give patients a friendly reminder that if they haven’t already left a review, it would be tremendously appreciated if they did so. Be sure to include the instructions or, better yet, links directly to the review pages in the email. However, it’s best practice to send these friendly reminders only every so often. You don’t want to bombard them with these messages every month and seem desperate or needy. Also, you can use social media to ask your followers and fans to leave a review. Great creative with the way you ask that will be sure to get the best response, in terms of quality and quantity.

O: Ongoing monitoring and moderation of reviews.
Online reputation management requires heightened vigilance. You never know when a negative review might strike. And, if and when this happens, it’s imperative you don’t let it linger.

N: Never leave a negative review unaddressed.
Let’s face it, negative reviews may happen. But don’t worry — it’s not the end of the world. By constantly monitoring and moderating your reviews, you can publicly respond to any unfavorable ones before any damage is done. In doing so, you will prove to patients — potential and current alike — that you truly care about their experiences and are actively working to resolve any issues they made have had. In this way, a negative review becomes something positive, as it allows you to address specific issues in a personal, caring manner for all to see. Moreover, as long as you are proactive and diligent in asking your patients to leave a positive review, the few perhaps misguided negative ones will be vastly outweighed and overshadowed. In comparison to your vast amount of positive reviews, they’ll appear as mere dismissible outliers.


With more than a decade of experience in corporate dental laboratory marketing and brand development, Ms.
Ulasewich decided to take her passion for the dental business and marketing to the next level by founding My Dental Agency. Since starting her company, Ms. Ulasewich and her team have helped a wide variety of business owners all over the nation focus their message, reach their target audience and increase their sales through effective marketing campaigns. For more information, she can be reached at Jackie@mydentalagency.com or 800.689.6434.