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a blog by Chris Barrow

Reviews – heaven or hell?


An email from a dental practice owner this week has me thinking:

We are getting some poor reviews on NHS choices , some look a bit suspicious and overtly malicious and we may well be getting confused with another NHS practice by the same name – extremely frustrating as we are a private practice with a miniscule NHS contract but patients still associate us with the reviews as they show up on page 1 on Google! Others colleagues have suggested they get the feeling possibly disgruntled ex employees or another local dentist!

I’ve had a read of the reviews in this case and there is something very strange about them:

  1. they are ALL over-written – too many words

  2. they are ALL written in the same lengthy prose – as if someone is trying to impress their tutor with an English language essay assignment.

As an amateur writer, I know enough about sentence construction to be reasonably sure that these negative reviews have been composed by the same person under a series of pseudonyms – clearly someone has gone to a lot of trouble.

As my client suggests, it may be a disgruntled former employee/freelancer or a local competitor. If you find that hard to believe I’m afraid I must advise you that I have come across cases of both over the years.

My client asks how he should respond?

His practice have, in fact, posted detailed and considered replies to each poor review on the web site but the originators have not responded (also unusual) and so they are merely making a statement for future visitors to read.

The frustration is that the overall average “score” is pulled down to a level that doesn’t look great for the next prospective patient in a hurry.

So – a question (because I don’t know the answer) – what other recourse does my client have?

Same question for Google Reviews, Facebook Reviews and other proprietary review sites, some national (like WhatClinic?) and others local (I was in Barnsley yesterday and the marketing champion shared with us a letter from a local firm that have established Barnsley Healthcare Watch as a local and independent review site – watch out for more of these).

Reviews are growing in importance as part of your overall marketing mix and they are getting increased attention.

Managing your reputation is hard enough without having to deal with a proliferation of review sites and the occasional terrorist.

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