Once upon a time, it was enough to have a real-world reputation as the best dentist around. Your patients came from word of mouth, or simply from being the local dental practice. Now though, today’s web-driven word means that your online reputation is just as important – if not more important – than your real-world reputation.
Any dentist can write online that they’re the best implantologist around, or that they’re a five-star orthodontist. Nowadays though, consumers are much more savvy to advertising and so you need to back up your claims with social proof, i.e online reviews. Younger generations in particular look for social proof to help them make purchase decisions. If you’re looking to build up your patient list, don’t ignore Millenials and Gen Z – build your online presence with reviews and ratings, and help them make the decision to come to you for their oral care!
Why do I need reviews?
Positive online feedback aids new patient conversion. Getting 5-star reviews on websites like Yelp and Google will not only increase traffic to your website, they’ll help turn digital visitors into real-life patients.
Meanwhile, poor reviews – or even lack of reviews – will send potential patients straight off to your competitors. I can vouch for this; as a Millenial-on-the-verge-of-Gen-Z I can tell you I never ever order or book anything without checking out reviews first. It might be on social media or on a review site like Trip Advisor if I’m booking a hotel – even if I’m getting a takeaway from Just Eat, I will choose where I want to order from based on reviews. In fact, I usually just filter my search to only show 5 stars and up, so if the rating is lower than 5 stars I won’t even see it.
Think about it, if you’re searching on Google for a new hairdresser, which are you going to choose: the one with 2 stars, or the one with 5 stars? It’s a no-brainer really, and when you’re looking for something as important as a dentist, chances are you’re going to pay attention to other people’s experience.
Where can I get reviews?
There are plenty of places that you can gather online reviews, including social media and special review sites. I’ve listed a few to get you started:
- Your Google My Business page
- The NHS website
- Most Recommended Dentist
How to manage my online reputation
There are two parts to building a really great online reputation, cultivating positive reviews, and managing negative reviews. Firstly, gathering a good bank of positive reviews. There are a few simple ways you can do this:
- Ask your patients to leave you a review if they’re happy with their treatment
- Add a link to leave a review on your email footer
- Post on social media asking people to leave reviews
- Send out an email campaign prompting people to leave you a review
- Respond to all reviews, thanking them for their feedback
One way to encourage people to leave reviews for you is to offer some kind of reward, such as money off their next treatment or an Amazon voucher. Be careful though – Google does not let you offer rewards in exchange for reviews. This could even lead to your practice being removed from Google, so maybe focus this on getting social media reviews, rather than your Google My Business page.
The next part is a bit trickier: managing negative reviews. Unfortunately, you will get them. Hopefully not many, but chances are you will receive at least one negative review. Customers are generally more inclined to leave feedback when they’re not happy than when they are, which doesn’t seem fair, but it’s true. Don’t panic though – if it’s dealt with well, it can actually be a positive thing.
Here are a few ways to handle a bad review:
- Take the feedback on board. You may not agree with it, but if one patient has experienced a problem, chances are others have too. See this as an opportunity to improve your business.
- Respond in a calm and emotionless manner. NEVER enter into an argument! Acknowledge their concerns, and let them know what you’ll be doing to rectify the problem.
- Contact the patient by phone so you can discuss the issue directly. Don’t take this as an opportunity to attack them, even though you may feel cross. Speak to them calmly, take their feedback on board and try and come to a positive constructive resolution.
- If all goes well, the patient may well agree to remove the review. If they don’t however, it doesn’t matter – if you’ve responded to them in a positive way, it will show other prospective patients that you’re professional and always working to improve.
Here’s an example of a positive response to a poor review. Feel free to use this to answer your own reviews, but just be sure to tailor it to the specific review. We’d also recommend changing the wording slightly whenever you respond to a review – you don’t want it to look like a generic copied and pasted response.
Hi (reviewer name), thank you for your feedback. We’re very sorry that you’re unhappy with the quality of your treatment/had a poor experience with us/not happy with our work (delete as appropriate). We’d like to reassure you that we take all patient comments seriously, and would like to speak with you further to resolve this matter. Would you be happy for someone from the practice to contact you to discuss this? In the meantime, we are taking measures to ensure that none of our other patients experience this problem. Kind regards, David the Dentist.
For help managing your online reputation, feel free to get in touch – we’re happy to help.