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.

Scary Good Web Design Tips from Officite

By Kevin Rach

Beware, dear reader, and steel your nerves before continuing further in this article. The stories contained herein are the unfortunate tales of dentists and patients attempting to connect with each other through mismanaged and long-neglected practice websites. Let this be a cautionary tale, and take heed, lest a similar gruesome fate befall your own practice …

“It Came From 2005!”
It took almost half a minute, but when the dentist’s website finally shambled out from the darkness of the loading screen, the patient gasped. It was … hideous.

The unsightly configuration of mismatched and outdated design elements shuffled forward on two poorly constructed footers like an HTML Frankenstein’s monster. “Welcome to my website,” it croaked, its cobwebbed mouth opened wide, revealing teeth in much need of a good dentist.

The patient nearly gagged as the unresponsive mass lurched forward, oversized images dragging behind its lopsided gait. It was almost enough to make her pity the aberration, but there was no time. She had to escape, to find a dentist with a modern Web presence. After all, if this is what the website looked like, there was no telling what outdated horrors lay within the practice itself.

“In Cyberspace, No One Can Hear You Tweet.”
Dr. Igor had nothing but good intentions when he set out on his new experiment. The goal? Using social media to promote his practice and start generating referrals. He set up a Facebook page and a Twitter handle, and started regularly posting. All might have gone well had he not made two crucial mistakes — failing to integrate social media buttons on the main website, and never encouraging a patient to “like” his practice in person.

Dr. Igor has not been seen by a patient online since 2011.

Legend has it that on some clear nights, if you turn up your speakers and listen very hard, you can just barely hear the whimper of his social media posts mumbling about the importance of semiannual exams.

There is still time, dear reader. The horrors described here need never haunt your own practice. With the help of a company like the FDA’s official Web presence provider, Officite, your practice will be safe and sound with cutting-edge responsive mobile design, integrated social media and search engine optimization — the tools your practice needs to survive.

Visit www.officite.com/dental, or call 855.208.9124.