The vast majority of consumers search online for local services (source: BIA/Kelsey). As more people turn to the Internet to select healthcare providers, a patient’s first impression of your practice is often based on your online presence. You may think that having a website is enough, but it is merely one aspect that you need to consider in this day and age.
Arguably, establishing a positive reputation online is as important as anything else. Just consider that 78% of U.S. consumers’ purchasing decisions are impacted by online reviews (source: Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange). Given that, dentists need to consider how best to handle the online reviews ecosystem in order to enhance their online reputation and ultimately help win more new patients. Here are some simple tips to help dentists do just that:
When it comes to getting positive reviews, the first step is to establish a process for identifying happy patients and asking for their feedback. Many patients develop a great relationship with the dentist or their favorite hygienist, and would be happy to write a review if they knew it was important for the practice that they go to. In your staff meetings, pinpoint these patients and empower your employees to ask for reviews when the time is right, e.g., when the hygienist has a particularly positive appointment or after a patient raves to the front office staff about their experience with the dentist. Simply tell the patient how happy you are that they had a good experience, ask them if they’d be willing to write a review and let them know if there’s a specific website where you’d ideally like them to post that review.
Layer in Automation
Incorporating technology into the review process can also help with getting new reviews. Through an automated patient communication system, you can send an email asking for a review as a follow up to an appointment. If a member of your staff spoke to the patient while they were in the office, this may be just the reminder they need to write a review when they get home. This will also help you reach more patients with review requests.
Spread the Word
In addition to posting these positive reviews to your practice’s website, dentists and practice managers should also secure a reviews presence on both healthcare-specific sites — e.g., Rate a Dentist and ZocDoc — as well as horizontal sites like Facebook, Google My Business, Angie’s List and Yelp. It’s important to consider all the different places that potential patients may try and find you, and have a positive presence there. Technology solutions are also available to automate the distribution process, and immediately post all of your reviews on your website and across the web.
Now that you’ve developed a system for getting and distributing reviews, it’s important to keep this process going. Having fresh reviews plays a role in the patient decision-making process. You can encourage office staff to focus on getting new reviews by setting goals. Also reinforce the benefits of positive reviews so that everyone in the office understands the positive impact they can have on the practice.
Respond to Reviews
Finally, it’s important to engage online with the patients that are posting reviews on your practice. It makes a big impact on consumers if they see that you’re taking the time to address a patient’s review whether it’s negative or positive. Replying to a negative review can be particularly impactful. It often helps turnaround a bad situation and illustrates that you really care about a patient’s experience with your practice.