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Defend Yourself Against Bad Reviews

December 3, 2014

Filed under: Business of Dentistry — Tags: , , , — Barry @ 10:51 PM

negative+reviewYou have to have a strong stomach to check yourself out on Yelp or some of the other review sites that have become so popular in this digital age.  I recently visited a few sites to see what people were saying about me…and boy, was I surprised.

Now I will say that I have a massive number of positive reviews gathered through the years but sitting right on top were two very stinging reviews…that made me quiver when I read them.  Who knew?

In defense of one, it was written by a dentist/patient who had become a real pain in the you-know-what.  I knew him from my gym and he came in as a patient.  He constantly told me how to do my job until I got sick and tired of him.  His response: to write a scathing review on a few online sites.  My initial response was to ignore.

The second review stung a bit more because it was by a patient who I had made complete dentures for, over one year ago.  She said I was a nice enough guy, but the teeth were terrible and now she goes around toothless, because I didn’t know what I was doing.  I remember her as a polite woman who rarely came in for adjustments.  Then I find out how she really felt.

I scrolled down to see if there were others.  Sure enough I found various words like insensitive, expensive and even dictatorial.

All of these were buried in a sea of really good reviews.

So how should I feel?  There is an old saying:

One thousand compliments = 1 insult.

I love Paul Simon, and when I read the reviews I kept hearing his tune, Something So Right, in my head:

When something goes wrong
I’m the first to admit it
I’m the first to admit it
But the last one to know
When something goes right
Oh, it’s likely to lose me
It’s apt to confuse me
It’s such an unusual sight
Oh, I can’t, I can’t get used to something so right
Something so right

In other words having a “negative bias” is just one of the flaws of being human.  Is this the plight of so many dentists?  Or how about other small business owners like barbers and restaurant owners?

Should we care about this online nonsense?  Many small business owners say they ignore it…but they shouldn’t, because in today’s world 80% of people base their buying decisions on reviews.

Taking a positive spin on bad reviews can actually help your business.

Bill Tancer, author of the book, Everyone’s a Critic, advises small business owners to chill out because “bad reviews will happen.”  Don’t we all get suspicious these days when there are 100% positive reviews?  A bad review, here and there, can actually add credibility.  Even best selling authors like John Grisham get bad reviews, and hey, not everyone loved The Godfather.

Another point Tancer makes is that sometimes the bad reviews force you to take a look in the mirror.  Sometimes the criticism is valid, and if you use the review as data then that’s a first step in improving your business.  Sometimes you have to pay exorbitant consulting fees to find out what our angry patients are willing to tell us for free.

Reviews, good and bad are not going to go away.  The future will be more rather than less dependency on reviews and review sites.  Hopefully, as the Internet evolves there will be more fairness in terms of “bilateral reviews,” a place where the business owner can respond without sounding like sour grapes.

Until then, it’s all about freedom of speech.  Reviews can’t be suppressed.  We can drive positive reviews as many of us do, and I feel that is our best strategy at the moment.

One last little story.  I was reading my reviews and found one from a temporary dental assistant.  She obviously didn’t like me, and she used the review site to tell the world what a jerk I was.  I have no idea who she was…I remembered none of it.  Either I was having a bad day or the agency sent me a real loser (I know most dentists will guess the latter).  Anyway, I called the agency and told them that if they didn’t put a stop to that method of feedback I wouldn’t use them anymore…the owner immediately went to the site and wrote the nicest review for me that contraindicated the one written by the miffed assistant.

There are things we can do…we too have freedom of speech