As I’m sure you’ve already noticed, we live in an age of instant information. Anything you want to know about a given business or medical practice is pretty easy to find via a few Google searches. Want to know how long a dental practice has been in business? You can look it up on the Better Business Bureau’s website. Want to see pictures of the office or facilities? You can probably find them on Google Maps. Want to know what people think of a dentist? Well, there are dozens of websites that provide consumer reviews. Google Maps (or Google My Business), Yelp, Facebook, Health Grades, Bing Maps and just about every online directory has a built in review component.
88% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews
It’s said that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
Not only do consumers trust online reviews, we’ve also seen correlations between positive reviews and SEO (or Google rankings in search results). So you can see why reputation management for dentists is extremely important. But how do you stay on top of your online reputation, while encouraging positive reviews at the same time? Well, we’ve come up with a complete guide that will help you with your online reputation management.
Why patient reviews matter
We mentioned above that potential patient’s value online reviews about as much as they value personal recommendations. And not only do higher star ratings seem to correlate with higher rankings, they also tend to improve click thru rates. Click thru rate refers to how many people actually click the link to your website after seeing it in Google search results. According to a local consumer review survey done by Bright Local, 48% of people will visit your website after reading positive reviews. However, data also shows us that visitors aren’t spending time reading content on your website. They are simply looking for someone they can KNOW, LIKE & TRUST!
Just in case you’re still unsure as to why reviews matter, here are a couple more statistics from the survey:
Understanding why patients leave reviews
If we can think back to about a decade ago, there weren’t many outlets to leave a business review. The Better Business Bureau was available, but their business model generally dealt with consumer complaints. Most consumers felt as if they didn’t have a voice when it came to their opinion of a business. Flash forward 10 years and patients can now leave a review on dozens of outlets. But what actually motivates a patient to leave a review at all? Whether positive or negative there are a handful of factors that motivate patients to leave reviews.
Reviewer Motivations can vary
Leaving a review on Google, Yelp or any other platform is completely voluntary (or at least should be). If you’re paying for fake reviews, do yourself a favor and STOP. We’ll get back to paid reviews in a minute.
Most surveys place motivation into just a small group of categories. This is not a be-all-end-all list, but most reviews fall into one of these categories:
Altruism and reciprocity are the categories that reviewers tend to classify themselves in the most. The strong majority of patients leave the office happy, willing to share their great experiences with others. Let’s hope that each of your patients shares in this joy!
What happens if I get some negative reviews?
No matter how hard you try to please everyone, it’s just not possible to please every patient, every time. Let’s say by chance you collect a couple of poor reviews and it affects your overall star rating. I’ve seen this happen to a handful of dentists. Their online reviews in turn drop well below a 3 star on multiple sites. Their Google rankings then drop and their web traffic drops. Before you know it, their business’s image is struggling a little bit. More often than not, these practices decide to pay for 5 star reviews to balance out their rep. Which brings us to back to a previous point… NEVER PAY FOR FAKE REVIEWS.
Paying for fake reviews violates Google’s guidelines. My recommendation to anyone who participates in violating Google’s guidelines is to stop immediately (and hope it doesn’t come back to bite you). Even if you don’t see any negative effects right away, it’s only a matter of time before Google puts the hammer down on your website.
How to combat negative reviews
It’s very rare that you can actually petition to have a negative review removed from one of your online profiles. There are very rare circumstance in which you can have a review removed from Yelp, but it’s next to impossible on Google. My recommendations are as follows:
Respond to patient reviews
Most websites that allow reviews also allow for comments on those reviews. Here are a few rules of thumb to follow when responding to reviews.
Tip #1: Don’t respond to all reviews – This could get extremely time consuming and can come off less genuine.
Tip #2: Respond to the most meaningful positive reviews – Don’t respond to all positive reviews, it will look less genuine as I just mentioned. Instead, focus on responding to the reviews that really highlight an instance where you or your practice went above and beyond the call of duty. It shows the reviewer and readers that you truly care about those experiences.
Tip #3: Always respond to negative reviews – Craft a mature response, acknowledging the critique or problem, while vowing to do better if given the chance. You will have a better chance of winning over the viewer with a sympathetic and well-crafted response. Do not place blame on the reviewer!!!
More tips for responding to negative reviews
Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind when responding to negative reviews:
Tip #4: Decide whether to address the issue publicly or privately. Many times a problem can be resolved by contacting the reviewer in private to work out a deal. In turn, you may be able to persuade them to remove their negative comment by offering some kind of retribution. It’s probably not a good idea to bribe or offer money unless the dispute was over some form of payment. Be extremely careful as to not appear that you’re rewarding negative responses.
Tip #5: Take responsibility. Apologizing for the problem and accepting fault will go a long way with the patient. Explain why there was a mix up if possible. Be positive and appreciative, or at least fake it.
Tip #6: Think about the big picture. Potential patients can brush off an occasional negative comment and side with your business. If the majority of reviews are negative however, the potential patient will probably move on to a competitor.
Tip #7: Let the resolution be known. If you come to an agreement with your patient, but the negative comment remains, feel free to speak to the resolution you reached with said customer. Research shows that patients care about fairness. Reaching a fair resolution will bode well with consumers. A well-crafted response in this case could read something like: “Thank you for bringing the issue to our attention. As we’ve discussed over the phone (or via email), we’ve resolved… yada…yada…yada…
Encouraging positive reviews
Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind when responding to negative reviews:
Okay, so you’ve read through all of the above content and know what NOT to do. But now you’re not sure what to actually do in order to encourage the positive reviews that will help your practice. Don’t worry, Elevate DDS has your back. These simple tips will help your online reputation sky rocket:
Tip #1: Create a business card-like handout with a link to leave a review (& give these to patients) – Creating the link and business card may be a little extensive and time consuming, but this method will lead to sure fire results. What you want to do is create a link that leads directly to your Google review popup page. You can get this URL by visiting the Grade.us Google Review Link Generator. Here you can plug in your business name and postal code to search for your business on Google. Once Grade.us finds your business, click the button to get your links. Now that you have your direct links, you can then plug them into a URL shortener in order to make it easy on your patients to type the link into their cell phones, tablets or computers. I recommend tiny.cc because you can actually create the URL extension for the shortened URL. So your URL could be something like “tiny.cc/docreviews”
The reason I like this method for soliciting reviews is because you can actually gauge your patient’s response at check out. If you can tell they are pleased, you can hand them a card and ask them to leave a review. You can also give them an incentive to do so!
At Elevate DDS we also have some tricks to help avoid any negative reviews being left by this method. Please feel free to ask our staff!
Tip #2: Craft a great message and guide the patient through the review process – Aside from creating business cards, you can always just create a one-sheet hand out for collecting reviews. We’ve made these for our clients in the past as well and have instructions on hand. For this method we basically create a one page instructional handout for creating a Google account and then finding your business to leave the review. At Elevate DDS we encourage this method because not all happy patients are very computer literate. Some patients may need extra instruction or guidance to leave the review.
Tip #3: Video testimonials/reviews – Even though video testimonials won’t improve your star ratings, they can be very impactful on potential patients. Adding video to your site can often provide an SEO boost and adding quality videos to YouTube, Facebook & Google Plus is a great social media tactic. Remember that visitors are more likely to engage with web content when multiple forms of media are present (images, video & text).
Tip #4: Use a patient communication or marketing automation software – Patient communication recall software (or marketing automation tools) have been called a million names by just about every software company that offers it. But what I am referring to here is software such as Lighthouse 360, Revenue Well, Solution Reach, etc. These tools are best used if you want a set it up and forget it approach to easy review collection. The drawbacks are that they generally only allow reviews to be posted to Google and Yelp only. That leaves other important review sites such as Facebook out of the loop. In my experience, these tools work to generate reviews pretty slowly. You can generally bet on seeing 1 or so new review each month posted to 3rd party websites, which aren't good numbers...
The Best Solution for Reviews
If you want to generate reviews like a pro, check out our review generation platform here and give us a call. We guarantee you will like the results.
DO NOT - Solicit reviews on an iPad!
DO NOT use an iPad or computer inside your office to collect positive reviews. I know this seems like such a great idea in theory. However, Google got smart and realized these types of reviews can also be manipulated. Google will actually track the IP address from the device that the patient used to leave the review. Too many reviews from the same IP address (or similar range of IP’s) are a negative strike against you.
Remember that your business needs at least 5 reviews on Google in order to display a star rating by your business in Google search results. So take advantage of the above tips and start collecting reviews!
*Edit - Google now shows the star rating for any amount of reviews. This can actually be detrimental if you have less than 5 reviews with a couple of negative ones!
We're here to help
I’m always happy to help a great practice in need of reputation management guidance. We live in a new era of online marketing and how Google (and other search engines) incorporate business reviews into search results. Online reviews, or lack thereof, can make or break your practice. Businesses can longer sit idle while their competitors run away with strong review campaigns.
Get in touch with Elevate DDS today to find out how we can help you obtain 5 star reviews across the board. You can contact us by clicking the link below with any questions. Thank you for reading!