Like it or not, the reputation of your dental practice now depends largely on its presence in the digital world. The tone of voice and aesthetic style you portray on your website and social media play a role in framing you and your team in the minds of your patients. But the online reviews about you tell them everything they need to know before they step through the door …
We know, that can be an alarming concept. As has become an adage in our modern world, “Angry people love to write a review!” You have one challenging interaction with a patient (even if they’re wrong), and suddenly you’ve got a horrible, one-star write-up on Google My Business, Yelp, or Healthgrades. Ugh.
But as with every difficult circumstance, there is a way to twist it into an advantage. Today, we’re going to talk about how you can use online reviews to turbocharge your practice’s growth.
Focus on the Positive
First, we’re going to talk about a shift in mindset you need to take toward online reviews. Up until now, you’ve probably viewed them as a nerve-wracking or annoying aspect that you can’t control and would do well to ignore as much as possible. But what if you saw it as the final interaction with your patient in each appointment cycle?
What we said before, about unhappy patients being more likely to organically write a review, is unfortunately true. For most of your patients, the experience will be a great one. But that means all is well in their world, and they have no reason to do anything beyond contentedly move on with life. Negative reviews are more rampant because the frustration of having a bad experience acts as an impetus for customers to take the time to log onto a site, input their information, and type something up.
Here’s the great news though:
You can be the impetus for your happy patients to leave positive reviews.
Many patients don’t even realize they can get online and review you. Others don’t understand how it will help you. Still more simply don’t think of it after an appointment.
All of those roadblocks can be solved by effective communication. How can you do that? Well …
- When you send your patient home with that little baggy of dental goodies, include a small card asking them to consider leaving you a review online. Be sure to include information about where you would like them to leave it, or, even better, QR codes.
- Following their appointment, send them an email or text message checking in. Ask how they are doing after their cleaning, cavity filling, etc. and then mention where they can leave a review. Include links.
- Tell the team members at your checkout counter to mention online reviews when patients are about to leave, and produce some small handouts that can be given if they ask for more information about where to leave one.
If your email and texting capabilities are still in progress, check out these helpful blog posts we’ve published before:
And consider this statistic from DentalROI: “Research indicates that about 70 percent of your patients are likely to publish a review of your office if you ask them to.”
The work outlined above is worth it!
The SEO Factor
But now, speaking of annoying aspects of business you might like to avoid … let’s talk about search engine optimization for a moment. It might not seem obvious, but online reviews are actually a huge driver in a business’ SEO performance on the web overall.
The art of SEO goes far beyond the keywords everyone has been buzzing about for years (although they are so important to utilize on your website and blog). It’s also about the quality and perceived usefulness of the content. Those little search engine robots love text that seems to have some meat to it. And online reviews, which mention your name, your practice’s name, dental problems and procedures relevant to your profession, feelings and feedback—search engines are hooked on them. They adore them.
We’re going to be posting another blog about setting up your Google My Business presence shortly, so stay tuned, but know that a strong presence with lots of traffic on a platform like GMB is key to thriving organic web traffic and attention.
And speaking of that blog post we’re going to be sharing soon …
Your Practice Needs a Profile
It isn’t enough to just direct positive patients to leave reviews. You have to have an established place for them to do it, where you are able to officially respond as well.
When you create a verified profile on Google My Business, Yelp, or Healthgrades for your practice, you make it easier for patients to identify where they should leave a review.
Google My Business can be the more complicated (but also the most impactful) of these platforms on which to create a profile. Hence, our upcoming blog post dedicated to it! But for now, here are the pages where you can set up your practice’s presence on Yelp and Healthgrades:
And once you have those profiles, you will be fully equipped to do the final thing we recommend:
Respond to Negative Reviews
Yeah, sorry, but you can’t just let them float out there on the web unresolved. While there isn’t always a way to make an unhappy patient feel differently, you can change the perspective of other potential patients who are reading that review. That is really what responding is all about: preventing onlookers from taking the negative reviewer’s side.
When a bad review pops up, respond with grace, thoughtfulness, and consideration. Try to get to the bottom of what went wrong with that patient’s appointment, and offer to discuss the issue offline. Other patients who view the interaction will appreciate seeing you say something like the following:
Hello, [Reviewer Name]! We’re so sorry to read that you had a less-than-great experience here at [Practice Name]. Would you like to have a further conversation about it with our team? If so, please feel free to message us directly or give us a call.
It will make those looking at the review feel that it wasn’t necessarily all true or was perhaps a result of misunderstanding or miscommunication. After all, why would the practice in question respond if they were really in the wrong about something? Wouldn’t they just delete the review? That is the overarching belief we hold when browsing online. Use it to your advantage!
To summarize, here are the bullet points to keep in mind when strategizing your approach to online reviews.
- Establish your presence on review sites.
- Explain the importance of reviews from an SEO perspective to your team, and get them on board to help encourage more patients to review.
- Inspire happy patients to leave reviews so that negative ones aren’t the only thing visible.
- Respond thoughtfully and professionally to the negative reviews, and take actual action when an unhappy patient wants to discuss something further.