One of the most frustrating byproducts of the digital age for dental practices - most businesses, really - is the proliferation of review websites and apps. Yelp, Google Maps, Facebook, Foursquare, Epinions, Expresit and Angie’s List are but a few of these sites and apps, and more pop up all the time.

Unfortunately, many practice owners operate under the mindset of “do nothing until we get a negative review.” At that point, however, it could be too late. If you have zero reviews and then one negative review, that’s all potential patients will be able to see of your practice online.

dental practice reviews yelp google

Dental practice review management doesn’t have to be difficult. You can set up a buffer against negative reviews utilizing the below tactics. Each of these can be done either by the practice owner or a staff member, and most just require small additional steps to processes that you should already have in place.

Managing dental practice reviews online

While there are plenty of review websites and apps online, the two most popular remain Google's local search and Yelp. Therefore, the remainder of this article will focus on tactics to draw more reviewers to those sites.

So, where do you start? First, you or one of your team members should check both Google and Yelp for reviews of your practice, if you haven’t already done so. What you’re looking for is the overall scores on each one. If the overall scores are positive (4 out of 5 or 5 out of 5), then your next step is to “claim” and work on your business pages on both platforms. Claiming the business pages and adding images, hours of operation, etc., will help your business show up higher in search results.

However, if you have a low overall score, you don’t want to claim or add to your business pages just yet. As was just pointed out, doing so will place your practice higher in the search results - accompanied by your less-than-stellar review score. Instead, skip to the step that follows.

Now you’ll want to encourage people to leave a review. Again, it’s better to avoid relying on your front desk person to ask your patients to leave a review. Instead, you can use of these two methods:

  1. You or your dental assistant can make a note in the patient's file about their overall mood when leaving the practice that day. To make it easier for your team, just use “positive” or “negative.” Based on that note, your scheduling person can follow up with an email based on that overall mood. If the patient left “positive,” then your follow-up email should ask them to leave a review of their experience. In the email, link to one of the two review sites (Google or Yelp). If the patient left “negative,” then your follow-up email should ask them how you can improve. Clicking on that link will open another email addressed to the practice.
  2. You can send just one follow-up email to all patients. At the end of your follow-up email, you would have two choices: “Enjoy your experience at [PRACTICE NAME]? Click here.” or “Feel that we could improve? Click here.” In the former option, “Click here” would link to a review website; in the latter option, “Click here” would open a new email addressed to the practice.

Both methods allow you to vet the patients based on their experience at the practice. Positive experiences get to leave a review while negative experiences get to contact you about their grievances directly. While this won’t stop all negative reviews, it will help build up positive reviews and allow you to more privately rectify whatever is causing a negative reaction to your practice.

Whether or not you see the negative reviews via email or online, it is important to keep your cool when it comes to responding - and you must respond. But I’ll get into more detail on handling negative reviews in a future article.