Minimize the Damage from Negative Feedback on Social Media

We get all sorts of interesting questions when dentists call our Claims Advice Hotline. Now that both people and businesses are active on social media platforms, we're seeing questions about how to handle negative comments online.

Question: A disgruntled former patient recently posted an angry rant about me on my practice’s Facebook page. Should I simply ignore the post?

Answer: Before you decide to simply ignore the post, keep in mind that social media complaints are available for the world to see and may negatively affect your reputation. Moreover, negative publicity from credible sources can result in a profound decrease in business.

Here are a few tips to help minimize the damaging effects:

  • Reply to the situation generically online, without acknowledging the writer as a patient, expressing their interest in the writer’s concerns if they are a patient and offer the opportunity to address them by having them contact the office.
  • Sometimes, it is not what you say but how you say it: Make sure no statement of empathy could be interpreted as an “admission” if the patient ever sought to bring a board action or lawsuit.
  • Take the high road. If the person is angry, do not engage in an argument. Your goal should be to calm the unhappy person and bring the situation to an amicable resolution. However, you also want others who view the post to realize that the patient may not have provided a fair review.
  • Offer to go offline with the unhappy person, especially if the discussion escalates or becomes unmanageable.
  • In worst-case scenarios, you can hide a negative comment or post. This means that you and the writer will see it (and some of their friends) but the post will not be visible to the general public. 
  • Ask your patients to post about good experiences with your practice, and don’t wait for something to go wrong. Several long-standing positive reviews tend to offset negative ones. 

Social media can be a tremendous opportunity for your practice. Just be mindful of how you communicate, especially when emotions run high