How to get more online reviews and use them to build and improve dental patient relationships
It’s what every producer or publisher waits to hear – “The reviews are in…” What viewer comments are to producers, online reviews are to a business, including your dental practice.
A review via Google or Yelp, for instance, can tip patients in the direction of your services. They can have the opposite effect too.
But positive or negative, reviews are beneficial for connecting with patients.
Why patient reviews have so much power
Reflect on the following data.
- 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading one to three reviews (that’s up 29% since 2014)
- 26% of consumers say it’s important that a local business responds to its reviews
- 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations (an increase from 83% in 2014)
- 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores1
Consider Amazon. If you’re like most, you read the product reviews prior to making a purchase there.
Amazon makes it easy to access reviews (that’s important). And they allow you to rate a review based on how useful it is to you (another good idea).
Reviews are powerful whether on Amazon, Google, Yelp, or other online platforms. It’s time to add a review strategy to your dental marketing plan or renew the one you have.
How to Get More and Better Online Reviews
Ask for reviews
This might seem intrusive or arrogant. But asking for a review communicates that you value your patient’s perspective and input. It also reveals that you’re willing to improve.
- Train all patient-interactive roles to ask for reviews. From your front-office to your hygienists to your assistants, including doctors. It may be difficult to bring your team on board, particularly those that think that asking reviews is “selling” and therefore unprofessional. Remind them that you are simply asking people to share their thoughts on how their visit went which can provide great benefits to the patients themselves – not selling.
- Make review requests a routine part of patient conversations: “How did your appointment go today?…” Or, “We would love for you to write a brief review about your experience today, just go to (provide url)…”
- Timing is of the essence. Ask for reviews when your patient is “happy” about their visit.
- Use text messaging (SMS) to request reviews. Set up and queue an automated message that will be sent within 30 minutes to an hour after their appointment.
- Pay particular attention to new patients. Provide a top notch experience and be sure to ask them for a review. New patients are much more likely to refer other new patients than long standing patients will. Might seem a bit counterintuitive but it’s true. New patients are energized and very motivated to share their experiences with others immediately after the experience.
Simplify the review process
Whatever system that you implement, make sure it is easy to use.
- Provide your patients a specific, simple means to creating an online review. A single link is preferable.
- Refer to Google for useful instructions about leaving reviews. Google My Business provides brief, simple support content.
- Include a feedback “call-to-action” in your email signature. Use something like, “Have feedback? Let us know by leaving a review on Google…” This simple step can boost your reviews by leveraging emails you routinely send for confirmations or patient updates.
Some third party systems will redirect patients that are unhappy about their appointment to a private site. Likewise, those patients that are positive about their experience are directed to a place (such as Google) where they can write a public review.
This is achieved by asking a single, initial question such as, “Were you pleased with your appointment today?” A “Yes” takes the patient on a path to write a public review. A “No” takes the patient on a path to write a private review.
The private review is directed immediately to a key team member to allow for a quick response to the patient.
Keep your patients in-the-loop
Responsiveness is essential. Timely and empathetic responses are essential for greatest positive impact.
- Express appreciation for positive reviews and be gracious and thankful for negative reviews. Your tone communicates your attitude about their input.
- Designate a point-person in your practice to stay on top of reviews. Train them to “mine” the reviews for questions, suggestions for improving the practice, and other useful information.
- Leverage the information obtained from your reviews by responding, implementing procedural changes, and creating new content on your website and patient communications that explain or solve patient’s questions.
Patients notice and appreciate being heard. Your willingness to listen and to curate and leverage feedback will set your practice above other dental service “mills.”
Keep in mind that you don’t always bat-a-thousand. Despite your best and well intended care of patients, a few will inevitably write “bad” reviews. It takes some substantial patience and skill to respond with “Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Your comments will certainly help us to improve the care provided in our practice.”
When all is said and done, some patients are just not a good fit for your practice and perhaps would be better off being taken care of by another provider.
To be sure, what’s important remains the same – diligently asking for and obtaining reviews and leveraging them to build your dental practice. There is no better way to power the continued growth and profitability of your practice.
Finally this piece would not be complete without asking you to feel free to review this review of reviews.
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Last modified: February 27, 2019