How to Respond to Negative Reviews (Updated 2023)

In a perfect world, every online review your practice receives would be 5-stars across the board, but unfortunately, this isn’t realistic. The question then is, should I respond to negative reviews? The answer is, yes. What comes next is, how to respond to negative reviews. You might work hard to get your patients to leave gleaming […]

In a perfect world, every online review your practice receives would be 5-stars across the board, but unfortunately, this isn’t realistic. The question then is, should I respond to negative reviews? The answer is, yes. What comes next is, how to respond to negative reviews.

You might work hard to get your patients to leave gleaming online reviews, but negative reviews are bound to happen. It isn’t a matter of if it’s a matter of when.

To add even more stress to online review management, patients are expecting businesses to respond to their reviews –  and fast.

Believe it or not, when it comes to how to respond to negative reviews, this can be an opportunity for your practice. Timely, well thought out responses can flip the switch on a negative review and build trust between your practice and potential patients.

Where Patients Are Leaving Reviews

There are thousands of places that patients visit to leave online reviews, but we narrowed down the top three places your practice should monitor regularly.

Google My Business

Google is the world’s most popular search engine. More and more consumers are researching dentists in their area with a basic google search. According to this online survey, 63.6% of consumers say they are likely to check reviews on Google before visiting a business – more than any other review site.

Reviews on Google are associated with your practice’s Google My Business listing. Neglect your listing and just as quickly as a potential patient finds your practice online they could be gone.


good dental reviews

Yelp isn’t as commonly used as Google or Facebook for patient reviews, but this popular third-party review site sees 178 million users monthly! That is too much traffic for your practice to go totally unnoticed. With the low average review score on Yelp at 3.65, it’s important to watch what feedback patients are leaving. When it comes to how to respond to negative reviews on Yelp, and every other platform, the consumer needs to be heard individually and addressed personally.


best dental reviews

Patients scour the internet in search of reviews that are truly authentic and trustworthy. BrightLocal’s study shows that Facebook and Yelp are the two most-trusted review sources for  local searches. Potential patients see this social media platform as a reliable place to gauge reviews. Keep an eye on Facebook reviews. It is an easy way to grow your brand.

Why You Should Respond

Reviews can make or break your practice’s online reputation. This Local Consumer Review Survey found that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

The reality is that you should expect some negative reviews on every platform. Reviews are a powerful marketing tool and one of many free tools for dentists. They give your practice the opportunity to engage, problem solve, and build credibility.

The key to successfully managing online dental reviews is to have a game plan for responding to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

How You Should Respond to Negative Review

how to respond to negative reviews
  1. Acknowledge and apologize [even if you don’t agree with or understand the patient’s aggravation]

Negative dentist reviews come in two forms: from a patient disappointed with their experience or fuming with anger. 

Either way, first things first, acknowledge the patient and their concerns. Address the reviewer by their name and show that you understand the concerns they are voicing.

Be human. Be sincere. Take the high road and issue an apology. Explain that you are sorry for any inconvenience or bad experience that the patient might have faced. Doing so shows that your practice holds itself to a high standard of service and genuinely cares.

  1. Provide an explanation not an excuse

Patients can leave nasty complaints about the dentist, staff, and treatment or share a novel about their negative experience at your office.

No matter what, your priority is providing an explanation that is honest and helpful. It is important that you keep an even tone and avoid brushing off the patient or becoming defensive with your response. Remember this is your opportunity to make things right. Be tactful with your words and find an immediate resolution to the situation.

  1. Discuss the matter offline

As a consumer, there’s nothing worse than voicing a negative experience with a company to have them act like it was no big deal. Sometimes the matter isn’t something that can be completely resolved in a single response. 

Perhaps the patient was billed incorrectly or is having complications post-treatment. In that case leave the name, title, and direct information of a staff member that can resolve the issue.

A Few Negative Review Response Examples:

“Hi NAME, we’re sorry to hear about your recent experience with us. We’re normally known for our exceptional customer service, and we regret that we missed the mark. If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact us at 000-000-0000. Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.”

Negative experience example response

“NAME, we are devastated to hear you had such a bad experience with us. We are usually known for our great patient care and attention to detail in everything we do. But we completely understand that our reputation is not something we should hide behind. Please reach out to us on call or by email at your earliest convenience. We want to hear all about your concerns and address them in the most suitable way. We look forward to hearing from you soon.”

Poor communication example response

What if the patient isn’t on record?

Does the review seem fishy? Or do you not remember servicing a patient by the name in the review? Address that in your response! You can also report the review to Google via your Google My Business account; on occasion, Google will also find it suspicious and remove it.

Explain that you don’t have any record of the patient visiting the office and ask if they might have confused your practice with another one. Close the response with your desire to resolve the issue if it was, in fact, your office.

In a Nutshell

Maintain the integrity of your practice. Reply to negative reviews! Negative reviews are a chance to be sincere, build credibility for your practice, and resolve issues presented by patients.

Reviews are a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Want more marketing ideas for your practice? Keep an eye on our blog or contact us today.