A consistent stream of positive online reviews is essential for the success of your dental practice. Authentic, positive reviews drive new patients to your practice, support your SEO efforts, and is the virtual version of word-of-mouth marketing.
Online reviews for your dental practice help spread the word about why patients should choose your care over your competition. It’s one of the most impactful forms of marketing because your patients drive it, they do all the talking for you!
Why Online Reviews Matter to Your Dental Practice
Driving New Patients
Even if you have no interest in acquiring new patients, online reviews are critical to the success of your dental practice. Chances are the vast majority of your prospective patients are reading reviews of your dental practice online before deciding whether to schedule their first appointment. Online reviews can also help you maintain market share in your community, and create awareness of your service offerings while building confidence in your expertise for case acceptance with existing patients. Without question, those reviews can make or break your business over the long haul by halting or accelerating the influx of new patients and treatments.
Having a high amount of Google reviews can help your website rank. Frequent and up to date practice reviews will help create more visibility on map search results and get your reviews in front of prospective new patients. While there is an entire industry built around improving your SEO with keywords and inbound links, in recent years Google has been tweaking their algorithms to reward businesses that look beyond these quick-fix strategies and instead focus on making their users happy.
Word of Mouth
Even the most successful dental offices are not household names. Therefore, building your brand recognition by word of mouth is essential. Your patients’ positive reviews of your dental practice are, in turn, one of the best forms of word-of-mouth marketing you can ever hope to have. The most productive referral source for a dental practice is typically a referred patient. A referred patient brings the confidence of others who’ve experienced your office with them. Referred patients trust in your care & recommendations from the very first visit.
Best Practices for Inspiring Great Online Reviews
Post-appointment Review Requests
During appointments, it’s important for your entire team to weave the topic of online reviews into conversations with patients. After a checkup or procedure, but before your patients have left your office, is a great time to seek a fresh review while they’re still in the building. You can aid this process by investing in one or two tablet PCs that are already setup for your patients to perform quick reviews for Google or other review sites. However, if you’re unable to inspire an on-the-spot review, send them a follow-up email or text to kindly request a quick review. Even better, work with a company that can automate and optimize the entire post-appointment review request process like BirdEye, My Social Practice or your email communication provider (Lighthouse, Solution Reach, Revenue Well etc.)
New Review Monitoring
Although there are dozens of social media and review sites to keep an eye on, be sure to pay attention to the following list:
- Google (reviews)
- Facebook (reviews on your business page)
Of course, constantly monitoring the web for new reviews can be overwhelming. Therefore, it’s best to work with an experienced company that can either train your team in efficient monitoring or can handle the monitoring for you. Most website companies have an option to monitor your online reviews, citations, and directories so check with your website provider to be sure you’re covered.
Leveraging Your Best Reviews
A great way to leverage your best reviews is to reach out to the patients that write them and ask permission to put a testimonial or quote on your website. You may even choose to showcase one of your most-satisfied patients with a blog post devoted to their positive experience. If you are signed up with a company that specializes in online reviews, they will usually have a way to add the latest reviews to your website automatically and post them to your Facebook page timeline too.
Responding to Bad Reviews
First, before taking a bad review to heart, always confirm that it’s authentic. Unfortunately, some outfits try to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors by posting fake, negative reviews. If you discover that this has happened to you, most review sites provide you with a simple process to report and remove them.
However, if the negative review is clearly authentic, then the best way to handle it is often to respond with a courteous public reply inviting the reviewer to call the office to take the conversation offline. Many review sites allow for this type of follow-up. It’s generally best to thank the patient for their review, but be sure to use caution when addressing specifics due to HIPAA and to inadvertently admit fault for provider license protection. Have a few go to phrases you can use and remember to always work toward moving the conversation offline with an invitation to come in to the office or speak over the telephone. Once the reason for the negative review has been addressed, you can ask the reviewer to post a follow up or your office can post a follow up to clarify the situation was resolved.
Putting Online Reviews to Work
Having considered all of the principles and best practices outlined above, it’s important to remember that the best way to drive great reviews is to treat them as feedback to help you improve your patient experience. You can start by looking for patterns in both positive and negative reviews. Are your patients raving about your modern equipment and office, but giving you a thumbs-down on wait times? Keep good reviews high and bad reviews low by examining online reviews with the entire team to create a strategy. Maybe you’d like to increase awareness for specific services or technology you provide or correct the practice reputation. Ask patients to leave reviews specific to the treatment you want to be known for or counter a negative review with a positive review for the exact focus of the complaint.
In order to apply an effective strategy, be sure to create a system that consistently generates online reviews, monitors and distributes your reviews, and translate your reviews into lasting improvements that help your dental practice grow and thrive year after year.