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Why you should ALWAYS answer online reviews

What is online reputation management and why is it important?

A brand’s reputation has always been either its greatest strength or weakness. That hasn’t changed in the digital age, however, the tools of measuring, maintaining and managing it have. There’s no reason to be afraid or anxious, so long as you’re aware of online reputation management.

Online reputation management is the monitoring, communicating and (limited) control of what people are saying about a professional or personal brand on digital spaces. Think: customer reviews, social media comments and the like. The key is having a plan for how and what to communicate, both for positive and negative feedback.

We all participate in this reputation economy, whether it was hunting for a restaurant with over four stars on Google or writing a scathing review after a poor customer service experience – it happens and it matters. In fact, 67 percent of customers are influenced by online reviews. As more people search digitally for research, it’s important to establish both a digital presence and control over the message being transmitted.

This doesn’t just apply to cafes and car dealerships, either. According to one study, 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year. With the three most sought out topics being: Specific diseases, treatments or procedures, and doctors or other health professionals (in that order).

What platforms should you monitor for online reviews?

RateMD how to respond?Online reputation management means scouring a variety of sources, many of which are industry specific. Some of the most popular platforms whereby one would find reviews are: Google Reviews, Facebook, RateMD (for doctors and dentists), TripAdvisor (for spas, restaurants and hotels) and Yelp, alongside all other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

What your review responses say about your brand:

No matter their length, negative comments always speak volumes to potential customers. They are not losses – they are learning opportunities. First and foremost, it is paramount to answer to all comments and reviews. Why? Because you’re both responding to the reviewer and communicating to a whole audience of potential and existing customers who will see your reaction.

One study by BrightLocal found that 89 percent of customers read local businesses’ responses to reviews. It’s essential to learn how to react appropriately and unemotionally to negative feedback, especially in the open; 48 percent of complaints are aired via public forums like Facebook, TripAdvisor, Twitter and RateMD. Additionally, your presence on the world wide web is as important as word of mouth, with 80 percent of consumers saying they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

What you should say to a negative online review:

Some handy online reputation management tips are:

  1. Respond quickly – ideally, within an hour
  2. Show empathy, compassion and warmth (read: no matter how frustrated you are)
  3. Stay on the same social channel
  4. Respond twice, but no more than that

Also, make sure to always respond in your brand’s tone of voice. For instance, if you’re a ‘cool’ brand, use the lingo and vocabulary that your target audience associates with being hip. By contrast, a more serious brand should avoid that language and speak professionally.

The first sentence of your response must acknowledge the feedback you are receiving. A more professional example could be:

Hi Sandra,

Thank you for reaching out and sharing. We are very sorry to hear this and will do our utmost to sort it out right away.

A cooler brand might say:

Hey Tim,

That sucks, sorry to hear that. We try to do our best, but we’re not perfect! (Who is, right?)

Here’s what not to say to a negative online review:

If you’re a doctor or dentist, never talk about a patient’s file in any detail. The biggest online reputation management mistake we’ve seen is a medical professional responding back to a disgruntled patient by practically reading the whole clinical history publicly, minus the name. Remember your goal is to neutralize the reviewer and show potential and existing customers that you do care, sometimes make mistakes and you’re ready to take action to rectify the situation.

Also, ensure you have someone on your team who is able to manage customer satisfaction issues. For example, if an unreasonably disgruntled client requires the case to be escalated, you can offer your teammate’s email to take further steps.

Stay calm, cool and compassionate

The only way to placate a negative or angry reviewer is to remain level-headed. We know that’s easier said than done, so we have put together an example as a guide.

Negative Review:

I found this orthodontist on Google and had a terrible experience! The support staff were great during my consultation, but the orthodontist herself did not seem to know what she was doing, couldn’t help me and was just being “honest” about her lack of experience. What a waste of time and money! Also, she said she would follow up about my case and I never heard from her. Thank goodness there are other good orthodontists in this city.


Hi Sarah,

We are very sorry to hear you were disappointed with your experience at our clinic. We aim for every consultation to be positive and informative, and strive to deliver the best service to each patient. We would be grateful to speak to you and learn how we could have done better. Could you please DM us here or email us at with your phone number and a good time for us to call you?

Thank you for sharing your feedback and we look forward to hearing from you.

The Teeth team

What are the benefits of answering online comments?

Besides the aforementioned reasons for answering reviews (i.e. potential and existing customers seeing your responses), there are a number of supplementary points for addressing comments online – both positive and negative.

  1. It increases your customer advocacy and retention
  2. Neutralizes unhappy customers, or can even make them happy
  3. Gathers insights for your business
  4. Differentiates you from competitors

Responding to bad comments online

For online reputation management, it is essential to have a plan for responding to comments —both in terms of content and consistency— and to make sure someone on your team is prepared to deal with complaints. If you’re a doctor or dentist, claim your RateMD profile along with those on other sites like Google Review, TripAdvisor and Yelp. On social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, set up business pages so you can maintain, monitor and manage comments.

Then, remember to continuously monitor the channels for reviews. Depending on the size of your business, set up a schedule that makes time for it either daily or weekly. After that, develop a bank of approved answers and a brand tone of voice. Feel like you need a hand with online reputation management? Reach out to us anytime – our expert team is here to help and has experience in dental and orthodontic practices and much more!

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