Online reviews from patients can do wonderful things to promote your practice that you simply cannot do yourself. Word-of-mouth advertising has always been a treasured source of referrals, because a recommendation coming from an unbiased third party – someone with first-hand knowledge of your skill and demeanor – carries extra credibility. Online reviews are simply another form of word-of-mouth.
They’re even more valuable, however, because online reviews are not delivered one-to-one, they are out there for anyone to see. And today’s consumers are more than happy to take advice from folks they’ve never met. In fact, they seek it out.
Many people searching for a new dentist start by reading online reviews. If you aren’t present, they won’t even be aware that your practice exists. And when people receive your postcard marketing in the mail, what’s the first thing they will do? Go online to check out your reviews.
How can you get more reviews?
- Create a profile on Google+ Local, Yelp and Yahoo! Local, if you don’t already have one. Flesh it out with helpful information about yourself, your staff and your practice in general so viewers can get a good mental picture of you. Don’t forget photos.
- Make a colorful little poster for your reception desk that tells patients you’re “now accepting new reviews” at the following sites (list them). They can’t post right then, but you’re planting a seed.
- Add a line to your printed receipts that invites patients to go online (tell them where) to post a review of their experience.
- When you send an email follow-up to each patient, include a review invitation along with links to each site. You can also include a “How did we do?” mini-survey and ask permission to quote them.
- Expand your email signature with “check us out online,” review site links and, of course, your web address.
- Display links to your review sites on your website.
Just getting started?
Never, ever post a fictitious review, no matter who wrote it. Google can spot it and so can everyone else, so it will backfire on you in multiple ways. Instead, as soon as you have your profiles in place, ask a few long-term patients who know you well to help get your review sites off to a good start with a post. They’ll be flattered and happy to help you out.
Monitor and respond to your reviews.
The more reviews you have – positive ones — the more credible and trustworthy your practice seems. But the point isn’t just to rack up a large volume of reviews. There are a form of communication. You can learn a lot about how to improve your practice, and responding to reviews demonstrates you’re paying attention. Who doesn’t prefer a dentist who actually listens?
Thank reviewers for positive postings. Always send an individual email to them with a simple thank-you, and occasionally add a public “thanks” as a response to someone’s review.
Always acknowledge a negative review with a simple “we’re so sorry that happened” or whatever is appropriate. If the problem is already resolved, add a note to that effect. If it’s something more serious, contact that person individually offline to discuss the situation.
Growing your dental practice is a process of building close personal relationships. Online reviews give you a great boost, so make it easy for patients to post them. And don’t just wait around for searchers to find your reviews online, promote them. Quote the best ones on your website and postcard marketing, in tweets and Facebook posts.
Using reviews for marketing has double value, because they are just as impressive to current patients as prospects. They can also help remind existing patients about elective procedures you offer.
Online reviews help prospects and existing patients feel good about choosing you. You couldn’t ask for more.