Category Archives: social proof

Dental marketing blog posts categorised as Social proof

dealing with dental practice negative reviews

How to deal with dental practice negative reviews

More more dental practices are now seeking reviews on social media, in itself this is a great thing to do as it builds trust by demonstrating social proof. However, we all know that not every single customer is always going to be perfectly happy every single time, it’s inevitable that we are going to have a negative review at some point…

But how do we deal with that? Being in the medical profession present certain problems for a dentist and dental practice when dealing with negative reviews on Facebook or Google, in this short video I will give you a simple tip on how to answer these reviews which should keep you legally safe and still answer that review.

If you would like me to send you the text of how to respond to review then please enter your e-mail address in this little form and send it to.

Patient Testimonials – What to Ask For

Patient testimonials are a brilliant way of demonstrating to potential customers that you are good at what you do. They provide something we marketers call Social Proof – and we all like proof of what we are reading, don’t we?

It’s simply not good enough to say you are the best dentist in town, or that your crowns are the best – you need to prove it, and the best way to do this is for a satisfied customer to prove it for you!

What I have laid out here is a summary of the questions I think you should ask your patients. Questions 1-3 are to do with ‘motivation’ if a potential customer can identify with the motivation for solving a dental problem they will feel more ‘in tune’ with the testimonial and it will be more powerful.

Questions 4 & 5 are to do with the ‘decision’ itself – we all use different strategies to make a decision, again this will help the reader to feel more at ease with the testimonial.

Question 6 & 8 are to provide comparisons between the emotional state before and after treatment – we make purchasing decisions based on emotion, then justify with logic – so eliciting some emotion in the testimonial will help the reader to make a decision.

Question 7 is to do with the treatment itself.

Question 9 latches on to the ‘post purchase’ feelings, people often have what we call ‘buyers remorse’ – with products one can take it back, but with services like dentistry one can not do that, so the purchase decision is much higher risk. If we can demonstrate that a previous patient had no remorse and could do more things afterwards it shows the reader that the decision to buy was a good one.

Question 10 Is a simple command telling the reader what to do – this ought to be a ‘call to action’ along the lines of “I would suggest anyone that feels like I did contact the practice straight away”

Here are the questions I suggest you ask your happy patient:

  1. What was your initial dental problem?
  2. What did this dental problem prevent you doing?
  3. What made you decide to do something about your dental problem? In other words, why do it now?
  4. How did you chose which dentist to go to? In other words, what selection criteria did you use?
  5. Why did you pick XYZ Dental Practice?
  6. How did you feel about your teeth before you went to XYZ Dental Practice?
  7. What treatment did you have done?
  8. How did you feel about your teeth after treatment?
  9. What have your new teeth allowed you to do now?
  10. What advice would you give other patients in a similar situation to you?

Using a structure like this will allow you to get better testimonials that are more useful to you and your business.

What would you add? Or indeed take away?

Facebook Pages. A reply to Krishan Joshi

Last week on Dentinal Tubules I posted a question “Does having your patients visible on a Facebook fan page concern you?”

I know there is a lot of discussion about this, hence my question!

Krishan Joshi, from Dental Focus posted an excellent response, making some great points about the Facebook CC Risk Factor, you can read his full post on Dentinal Tubules, or his blog. Read the Dentinal Tubules post here.

My personal thoughts are that Facebook is a perfect place to bring your most loyal and raving fans together, and mix them with potential new patients. Most practices will tell you that their biggest source of new patients is from referrals from existing patients, this is because of a phenomenon called Social Proof. Social Proof helps us to make important decisions and is the reason why testimonials on a website are so important and powerful.

Facebook facilitates the process of Social Proof, and means you can build a loyal fan base and create a real buzz about your practice – and the truth is, your patient database is not exposed as I have practices that have Facebook pages with >550 fans and only a small percentage are patients… and no-one can tell who they are anyway!

So, on to NEGATIVE COMMENTS… this is the real worry for practices… what if someone says something bad?

Here’s a little story.

In April last year a woman named Amy Korin went to Domino’s Pizza in Chicago and had a bad experience, she chose to mention this on Twitter to her 4000 followers… a potential disaster for Domino’s Pizza..

When she awoke the next day she found that Domino’s had responded to her complaint on Twitter, and here is that response (sorry I can’t embed the video so you’re just gonna have to click it) 

Domino’s managed this negative comment excellently, this video has now been seen by over 144,000 people and has become a shining example of how to respond to negative sentiment, and is in fact now a promotional video for Domino’s

So really, it’s not the fact that you might get a negative comment.. it’s how you deal with it, use it as en example to show how good your customer service actually is, demonstrate that you DO care, and admit you got it wrong, invite them in for a free gift pack, or tell them to bring their family in for a free pamper day! People will respond well to this admission, they will respect you for it and will love you even more.

Having said all that, I manage 14 dental practice Facebook pages, we have around 1000 fans in total and we have never had a single negative comment!

So the key is to manage your online reputation, engage, build trust, develop relationships and respond to negative sentiment. Here is a great program for monitoring online sentiment.  *

I accept the possible negatives of Facebook, and always it about making a judgment as to the best way to proceed, however, all things taken in to account, I believe the advantages of increasing social proof and creating a buzz far outway the negatives.

What do you think?

* Declaration of interest. This is a program that is sold by Mark Oborn Ltd

Social Proof

How many of you guys have testimonials displayed in your surgery?

What about on your website?

And in your marketing literature?

I would hope that most (if not all) answered yes to that question… testimonials are part of a phenomenon that’s called ‘social proof’, and there is a rule for social proof that states:

people follow the most common course of action

Goldstein, Martin & Cialdini 2007 “50 Secrets from the science of persuasion” Profile Books, London, ISBN 9781846680168, p18

Now this is a phenomenon that can be exploited and used to our marketing advantage, if our customers are aware of the number of people we have helped then it becomes easier to sell our products and services.

For example, a communication that says “Over 200 people this year alone have benefited from our Invisalign “Invisible orthodontics” program” is much more powerful than “Our Invisilign Orthodontic program can help you”.

Do you see what I mean?

Beware of negative social proof
The law of social proof says that people follow the most common course of action right… cool, glad you’ve got it… BUT if we inadvertantly tell our customers that the majority of people do the opposite to the activity we are trying to promote, then guess what.. our marketing is back firing… BIG TIME.

Here’s the example Goldstein et al cite in their excellent book.

The Petrified Forest National Park in the USA were having a problem with visitors stealing little bits of the petrified forest, and bit by bit the National Park was being eroded away by visitors.

So they decided to put up a sign which read:

“Many past visitors have removed wood from the park, changing the natural state of the Petrified Forest”

This is negative social proof as it is saying that MANY visitors have stolen, making it look like the most common course of action.

Goldstein et al decided to run an experiment an monitor the amount of wood removed with different signs… I won’t bore you with the details, but they marked pieces of wood and recorded the amount taken by visitors when they were shown different signs. To monitor the effect of different signs they used another sign which read:

“Please don’t remove petrified wood from the park”

The first sign with the negative social proof resulted in 7.92% of visitors removing wood, the second sign with no social proof resulted in 2.92% of visitors removing wood. They showed people follow the most common course of action EVEN IF THAT ACTION IS NEGATIVE!

So how does this relate to dentistry?

Well, how many times have you quoted research to your patient with negative social proof similar to “research has shown that 75% of patients don’t floss, this results in a a higher carious rate” – this is negative social proof.

You may have been trying to tell the patient to floss, but you have told them that 75% of patients don’t… so you have actually told them the most common course of action is NOT to floss… so you have done the complete opposite!

Marketing messages with negative social proof will convince the reader to follow the most common course of action, so what should you do now?

  1. Take a look round your surgery, look at the posters on the wall… is there negative social proof that is harming your marketing
  2. Think about what you say to patients, are you using negative social proof to tell them to do the opposite of what you intend?
  3. Look at you current marketing literature, is all social proof positive? If not reword it to be so

So have you got any examples you are willing to share with the readers of this blog? Go on, be brave and comment!

I look forward to hearing your own experiences, cheers for now.

Stay sharp,


For more advice and help on dental marketing please visit my website