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Quick tips for addressing negative online reviews

Negative reviews make up a very small percentage of online reviews. The majority of 5-star reviews are 3 or higher. But negative reviews do happen and they can have negative consequences for your business. So what do you do when someone negatively reviews your dental practice?

Fix it before it’s broke! Do everything you can to make sure your patient has a pleasant visit to the dentist. Hire and retain the best staff, keep your patients informed throughout their procedure, make sure you provide the very best in pain management, and check-in with your patient throughout the appointment to make sure they are comfortable.

Respond as soon as you can. Addressing the issue quickly goes a long way toward solving the problem. Set up a Google Alert with your practice name and dentist’s names to make sure you know what’s being posted about you on the web as soon as possible. Make it a priority to respond to both positive and negative reviews.

Keep your cool. It can be quite a shock to receive a negative review, but you don’t want to react out of anger and say something you’ll regret. That could cause even more problems for you and your practice.

Put yourself in the patient’s shoes. Most irate patients just want to be heard and have their experience validated. If you get a bad review, reach out to that person individually and let them tell you about their negative experience. Let them know the steps you will take to make sure their negative experience doesn’t happen again.

Apologize publicly. Apologize for their negative experience (without admitting fault or discussing the details of their visit) and ask them to contact you in private to discuss it more. A good example would be “I’m sorry that your experience was less than fantastic. We pride ourselves on offering excellent service to our patients so please get in touch with our office so that we can address the situation.” A public apology can go a long way toward building good will with the reviewer. Hopefully, others who read the negative review will interpret the negative review as a one-off event.

Use the negative review as a learning experience. Is there anything in the review that rings true? How can you improve your practice based on this patient’s comments?

Know when to hold ‘em. Although you should respond to all genuine patient issues, you don’t have to respond to people who are just trying to stir things up and create problems for you or your practice.

Ask for inappropriate reviews to be removed. Most sites will not remove reviews written by real patients with real complaints, but a negative review with swear words or personal attacks will most likely break the site’s rules. A negative review may also be removed if you can prove that your competitor wrote it. Most sites prohibit competitors from writing reviews.

Fight back with positive reviews. Asking your patients to write positive reviews can reduce the effects of a negative review and help to rebuild your business’s reputation.

This is the last of our Online Reviews Series. Did you miss it? Work your way through the series starting with Grow Your Business with Online Reviews.
Jean Fraser
Jean Fraser
As the Director of Marketing at Optio Publishing, Jean is fascinated by all things related to internet marketing, including SEO, Google AdWords and Social Media Management. When not at work she can be found tearing up the dance floor.
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