Monday, December 28, 2015

Are Dentist Online Reviews Really Accurate?

Tonight, while monitoring the 24 phone line, I received a call from a member who wanted to inform me that he was not going to renew his plan. I assume, by the annoyance in his voice, that he was just hoping to voice his concern to the voicemail system instead of me. So I asked him why he was choosing to not continue with our plan and the response I got seem to set me back a little. He said "ALL of the dentist on your plan suck, I looked all of them up online and everyone of them had nothing but bad reviews" and then proceeded to tell me how we should take the time to check out our dentists before we just put them on the plan. Trying to avoid sounding defensive, I explained our credentialing procedures to him and how we visit our dentists every 4-6 weeks, but he didn't care. In fact, I was informed that I should "Actually do some research online and look them up, because that's what everyone else does" and the hung up on me. Now, I am not writing this blog to complain about an annoyed customer who bothered me at 1:00am. I am writing this blog address the issue of online reviews. Now, I am nowhere near naive to believe that this particular person actually went and looked up all  300+ dentists on the plan and checked for online reviews, but apparently the few that he did look at had nothing but bad reviews and that was enough for him to classify that all dentist on our plan..."suck". (Side note.. the dentist on our plan are the same ones that take all of the major insurances too).

So this leads me to the question.. Are dentist online reviews really accurate? I have no doubt that the legitimate reviews whether negative or positive is a true indication of how that a customer feels. However, the majority of the reviews out there on all of the major sites are very one sided, mostly negative and most likely posted at the time that their emotions are running high. Furthermore, if/when the situation is resolved, the review is rarely removed or updated to reflect the positive outcome.
Let me give you an example. I read this review on Yelp! that was posted by a patient, for a dentist that is in our network. The patient is not a member of our plan. The review, verbatim, went something like this:

(1 STAR) "I went to Dr _____ today. I waited 20 minutes to be seen. Then they wanted to shoot all of these xrays. I just had xrays taken a year ago. Then the dentist looked in my mouth for less then 5 minutes and told me I have 4 cavities. I brush my teeth 3x per day. I don't have cavities. Don't go to this guy, he is just trying to rip you off".

Now, if I judged by just reading this review I would probably never step foot in this dentist's office. However, I happen to know this dentist personally and I know a few things about dentistry. So my interpretation of this review goes like this:

A 15-20 minute wait in a dental office is pretty standard. If the xrays are a year old, then yes they are going to want to shoot more. A lot can happen to your mouth in 1 year. The dentist really doesn't need to take more that 5 minutes to examine your mouth because with the advancement in xray technology, he can see more on the screen and plus he knows what he is looking for. Lastly, I don't care if you brush your teeth 6x per day, cavities happen. Furthermore, there is not a lot of money in fillings, so I doubt he was trying to rip you off.

Online reviews are not always what they seem. The power of the internet and the ability to post any inane thought about a business for any reason with no recourse from the company is an unfair advantage to consumer and one that can hurt a business. Restaurants have closed because of reviews that were posted by people who couldn't correctly boil an egg, yet they are expert enough to review about the lack of seasoning in their spaghetti. At Savon, we once had daughter a former member tag us in a tweet saying "Don't get this plan, they are very rude and unprofessional". Now the actual story goes, that this young lady called the office, yelled, screamed and cursed at one of our team members and was not given the refund that she wanted for a plan that wasn't even hers. In return, we get the negative review for this young lady's rudeness. Was it fair to us? No it wasn't. In the interest of professionalism we declined to respond to her tweet.

My point is this. There is a saying in life that goes like this: "You can't please everyone". Unfortunately, it is the ones that you can't please that will go write a review and bash you for it. That is the main reason why you see reviews that are generally negative. Even more so when it comes to a dentist office. I have never read a review that says "She cleaned my teeth really good". The majority of them are negative and more so if the dentist recommended work because then that patient is being told something that they do not want to hear.

Ladies and Gentleman, I STRONGLY advise everyone to check out the dental center that you want to go to. I am in no way trying to deter you from doing so. However, if your method for doing so is by looking at the 2 or 3 reviews that they have on yelp, then you are not getting enough information to make an educated decision. There are so many more places that you can check. The Arizona Board Of Dental Examiners, The Better Business Bureau, Health Grades and the American Dental Association just to name a few. Wherever you go to check them out, just make sure that you are giving them a fair chance.

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