Online reviews and dental clinics
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How dental clinics can effectively deal with fake and defamatory online reviews
Populating the internet with content, which is controlled by you is a powerful strategy to help you defend your business against online reputation attacks. Whilst the content helps to counteract negative and defamatory posts against your business, it is also likely to generate new stream of customers.
Our client, Sharon, (not her real name) owns a small chain of 5 local dental clinics in and around the City of London. Due to the nature dental services, sometimes, there are disgruntled patients who feel unjustly dissatisfied with the advice or with the treatment who go online to post negative or defamatory online reviews against their dentist or the dental clinic. This situation is fairly typical to dental clinics, particularly to clinics that serve wider communities and occasional dental patients.
Over time, there had been scores of negative, and mostly unfair, online reviews posted about the dental clinics. As those negative online reviews began to accumulate, it became apparent that it was no longer viable for the dental practice to simply ignore the negative online reviews as they started to create a significant impact on the business income and on the reputation of the dentists who work there.
Often, the first call for business owners who are victims of defamatory online reviews is their web developer or to a reputation management company, that they often find on the internet. In the case of our client, she first hired a search engine optimisation company that presented itself as a reputation management company.
The reputation management company told her that they specialised in dentists and promised to enhance the dental clinics’ reputation and to facilitate the removal of the negative online reviews. The reputation management company charged Sharon a significant amount of money but provided very little return.
Six months later, she still felt that her dental clinic was vulnerable on the internet as most of the negative online reviews had not been removed and the SEO work resulted with hardly any new business worth having.
Dental Clinic Defamatory Online Reviews Legal Advice FAQ
Dental clinics can mitigate the effects of negative online reviews by creating and maintaining a positive online presence. This includes generating quality content that highlights the clinic's successes and expertise, engaging positively with reviewers, and addressing any genuine concerns. It's also crucial to monitor online platforms regularly to manage and promptly respond to any negative reviews. Seeking legal advice for the removal of defamatory or false reviews can further protect the clinic's reputation.
The 'graffiti wall effect' refers to the phenomenon where one negative review on an online platform attracts more negative attention and reviews, creating a wall of negative content. Dental clinics can prevent this by actively managing their online presence, responding professionally to reviews, and encouraging satisfied patients to leave positive feedback. Regularly monitoring and addressing negative reviews helps maintain a balanced and fair representation of the clinic online.
Dentists should ensure that their use of social media adheres to professional and ethical standards. They should protect patient confidentiality, maintain professional boundaries, and avoid sharing unverified or false information. It's advisable to engage with users positively and constructively while avoiding public disputes or discussions that could reflect poorly on their professionalism. Dentists should also be aware of the legal implications of their online activity and consider seeking legal advice when uncertain.
Ongoing protection against defamatory online reviews involves regular monitoring of all platforms where the clinic is mentioned. Dental practices should consider having a professional law firm monitor, manage, and provide daily support to address any potential defamatory content swiftly. Legal experts can assist in securing the removal of false or defamatory reviews and advise on the best course of action to maintain a positive online reputation.
When responding to online reviews, a dental practice must maintain a professional tone and avoid making statements that could exacerbate the situation or lead to legal complications. It's crucial to understand the distinction between genuine criticism and defamatory content. Practices should consider the implications of patient confidentiality and data protection laws. If a review is potentially defamatory or false, the practice should seek legal advice to understand the options for requesting removal or taking further action. Responding to reviews should always be in line with professional guidelines and with an awareness of the legal context.
Our law firm is known for this type of work. Our entire focus is on internet and social media law and, as such, we help businesses successfully handle negative online reviews. Sharon was referred to our law firm by another client of ours, a prominent plastic surgeon from Harley Street who had experienced similar issues with negative online reviews in the past and who, for the past four years, has been working with us successfully to remove negative online reviews from the internet and to enhance the reputation of his clinics.
Together with Sharon, we created a dedicated strategy to achieve both her goals; namely, the removal of the majority of the negative online reviews, on to create unique content to make the dental clinics more attractive to new patients. We helped the dental clinic demonstrate online their expertise, their experience and their successes. The content published was very unique, which means Sharon’s dental clinics now stood out to became first choice for many dental patients in the area.
Over time, we created 5 different websites for Sharon’s dental clinics and made them all point to her main internet page. Her dental clinics began to appear on the first page of Google searches in response to relevant search queries, mostly for high-end type of work. Once the majority of the negative online reviews about the dental clinics were removed from the internet, it became less likely for more negative online reviews to appear.
It is the nature of negative online reviews that they tend to attract even more negative reviews. It is, therefore important to keep constant check on online review platforms and websites to ensure that negative or defamatory online reviews are always kept under control.
This also helps avoid the so called “graffiti wall effect”. Sharon’s dental clinics had since experienced constant increase in business, and a sharp decline in the posting of negative online reviews. The quality of the work that he clinic receives has impressively improved and some of her dental clinics are now able to command a higher fee for some of their more specialist work.
There has been a clear and positive impact on Sharon’s dental clinic, following the removal of the negative online reviews and the creation of an effective online reputation strategy for her business. Our firm still provides Sharon and her dental clinics with ongoing support.
Case studies are based on true cases where names, dates and circumstances have often been amended to protect the identity of those involved.