If you have a dental or orthodontic practice, online reviews matter a lot. A staggering percentage of people analyze the reviews, ratings, and testimonials about a dental or orthodontic practice before they book an appointment. If you don’t have any reviews or your reviews don’t paint a favorable picture of your practice, you’re losing potential patients whether you know it or not.
Developing a review generation system is critical to the future of your practice. Your online reviews show up all across the Internet and are an increasing part a patient’s decision making process. If you leave your review generation completely up to chance, you’re going to find that the bulk of your reviews are either from extremely happy or extremely dissatisfied clients. Even the best practice will fail to make every patient happy and if you don’t have a large number of positive reviews, it only takes one or two negative reviews to destroy the credibility of your practice and hamper your new patient efforts.
If you have hundreds of positive and accurate reviews, it will make those one or two look like crazy anomalies. That is why integrating a review generation strategy into your regular practice workflow is so important.
So how do you develop a review generation strategy? There are a number of ways to increase the flow of inbound reviews. Below we have collected some of the best methods available to help influence reviews. The sooner you begin integrating these types of strategies into your regular patient communication and interaction flow, the more successful your patient acquisition efforts will be.
Take control of your online presence
This one goes without saying but is often overlooked by dental/orthodontic professionals. People are very unlikely to leave reviews for you if you don’t have an online presence. And when it comes to online presence, more is good. You want to be listed on all the leading feedback sites and local directories, such as Yelp and Google My Business. This helps the patients find you quickly and leave their review or feedback on a site of their choice. If you’re already on these sites, make sure you own your profile and make sure you’re responding to every review you get, positive or negative. Let potential patients know you’re engaged and that you care.
Make a personal and timely ask
This is another important aspect of patient reviews often overlooked by dental professionals. You must ask the patients for a review as soon as possible after their procedure. If they had a good experience and you did a good job, it doesn’t hurt to ask them personally while they’re still in the office. The more time between the procedure and the ask, the less likely a patient is to follow through. The in-person ask also allows you to make a real and personal connection which can help motivate patients to follow through and actually leave a review.
Also, be honest with them and explain just how important reviews are to your practice. When you’re connecting personally and letting someone know they really can make a difference for you, they are far more likely to help. Not everyone understands just how important reviews are to your practice.
Help them remember
You can make the world’s best ask, but often, the patient isn’t in a place to leave a review immediately. Send them away with a goodie bag and a review card that tells them exactly where and how to leave a review. This helps remove barriers to leaving a review and helps the patient remember while jointly providing a little extra incentive. You gave them this great stuff, you did good work, the least they can do is help you out.
The important piece here though is the card. The card should be very clear. It should explain why a review is important and the specific sites where you would like to leave a review. A pro tip here is to create a card that contains multiple options. Google My Business is the most powerful site for patient reviews so that is a must, but not everyone is a Google user. Include other review locations on there where you want to grow your review presence such as Facebook.
Ask specific questions
The more specific your online reviews are, the most useful they are to the people looking up your practice online. You can elicit such specific reviews by asking your patients specific questions. When asking them for a review, you can provide them with a survey form that is specific to the dental procedure they have undergone. For instance, instead of asking the patients about how did they find the service at the clinic, you can ask them whether they felt comfortable during the root canal procedure and if the dentist was helpful and communicative.
Leverage your reviews
As you increase the quality and velocity of your online reviews, make sure you’re maximizing the benefit. Having a large number of reviews actually encourages future reviews. There is a multitude of plugins and tools that allow you to automatically curate online reviews and display them on your website.
Use these tools to collect and display your reviews so that both new and existing patients can see them. Give them an easy method for providing a review or testimonial right on your website. It may seem strange, but having a large number of reviews actually inspires patients to leave their own review.
Use offline methods
Include a review link on the mug, notepad, or pen you gift your patients, add the URL to any documents you are going to provide the patients, and use stick-it notes across the clinic to highlight this link. You can also use snail-mail, postcards and other accessories to highlight the URL.
Another great tip is to prominently display print-outs of your online reviews, along with the star ratings, at a place where new patients can easily see them in your practice. These will serve as assurance to both new and existing patients and it will also persuade the new patients to leave their own feedback as well. It never hurts to have a stack of the previously discussed review cards next to these printed reviews so that people can easily take one and leave their own review for the wall.
Offer bundles perks
This is one of the quickest and surest way of receiving online reviews. Give something back to your patients in return for their reviews. For instance, you can give one of your new patients a 10% discount on their next visit or free whitening if they leave an online review. Such perks can be very persuasive, not to mention they are also likely to sway a patient towards leaving a more positive review.
Note: Not everyone agrees with this approach because it is seen as buying reviews. If you go this route, make sure that people know that you’re asking for their feedback to improve your practice. Just because you give them an incentive to share their feedback doesn’t mean it must be positive. Give the same benefit to everyone not just those leaving you a 5-star review. This will allow you to get better feedback and improve your practice. It is also a good idea not to promote this online as some websites like Yelp frown on this type of approach even if you’re offering the same perk to everyone regardless of quality of review.
Take advantage of software. While we still believe strongly in a personal ask and in-office follow up with patients, there are software packages out there that allow you to automate the process of asking for reviews. Don’t solely relying on these software packages to run your review program but understand they can be a tremendous resource in helping to increase the number of reviews. These packages can automate the process of following up with a patient and they can even streamline the process of leaving a review.
For example, within Visual Practice, after a patient procedure is closed out, a follow-up email will be sent to the patient. This email contains a simple survey that allows the patient to provide some honest feedback. Based on the content of the feedback provided, Visual Practice automatically analyzes the feedback and decides if the patient should be asked for a review. If the feedback was favorable, the patient will be presented with direct links to leave a review at the various review websites that are of the greatest benefit to your particular practice. In the rare event, the feedback is not positive, the negative feedback will be shared with your practice allowing you to follow up with the patient but the patient will not be asked to leave an online review. This allows you to capture the feedback and improve your patient experience and it allows the patient to feel heard so they don’t head to Google or Yelp to leave a negative review. The great thing for your practice is that all of this process is handled through artificial intelligence and it doesn’t require you to adjust your patient workflow or remember anything new. In this case, your software is doing the heavy lifting so that you can focus on providing your patients with exceptional care.
We highly recommend software as part of your overall mix. Well designed software can greatly increase the number of reviews you receive with almost no effort from you or your practice.
The dental and orthodontic marketplaces have grown incredibly competitive. The lines between these specialties have continued to blur and landing new patients has gotten more and more difficult. Online reviews are a great way of improving your odds, even if you have a smaller dental or orthodontic practice, they allow you to showcase what you can do and how much you care.
By adopting and integrating a collection of these strategies, you will absolutely grow the number of reviews your practice receives on a monthly basis. You will also improve the natural quality of these reviews by encouraging the positive experiences. Best of all, you will grow your practice by attracting and converting a higher number of new patients.