How To Encourage Positive Patient Reviews

Don’t disregard the review process – it’s a business priority!

Google 5 star reviewYou’ll probably know from your own experience just how powerful reviews are when it comes to selecting new products or services. We all do it – whether it’s a product from Amazon, your local restaurant, car repair or holiday destination, most of us will scour the web to check out what other people have to say before we make a commitment to purchase.

There is plenty of research covering the subject of reviews with the vast majority of people suggesting that they are influenced pretty much in equal part by positive as well as negative feedback. Bad reviews can really have a negative effect on your business and it doesn’t take long for a solid reputation to become trashed. Good reviews act as a “third party”, independent validation of your services and are much more powerful than saying it yourself!

But it’s not just about demonstrating your worth to potential new patients, it’s also about convincing Google to rank you higher in search results. Google also recognises the critical importance of reviews as an overall “quality indicator” and there is a high correlation between the number of good reviews a business has and its positions in the search engines; particularly the local/map results on page one. So it’s a virtuous circle – the more reviews you have, the better your chances of ranking well and the more traffic you can expect to your website. More traffic equals more patient enquiries and more opportunity for reviews!

So with all the evidence abundantly clear, you might imagine that all dentists would be fully bought-in to the process and busy installing procedures and motivating their teams to seek out reviews proactively and consistently? However, you’d be wrong. Unfortunately there are still lots of dental businesses out there that shun the review process, missing the benefits that positive reviews bring whilst being compromised by the poor reviews which appear about them. It’s a conversation I’ve had numerous times and it can be quite frustrating to have the evidence dismissed.

Of course there are also lots of dentists who completely understand the review process and how important it is for their business. This blog will take a quick look at some of the techniques they use to build a steady stream of reviews across the platforms which count.

Ask for a review

The practices who are most successful with this have a fully briefed team who all know the importance of reviews. This is typically championed by the front-desk team but should also be supported by the clinicians too. In its simplest form it’s just a request for a review left on Google or Facebook, but it always helps to have a very brief document which explains why you’d be delighted to receive a review, the steps to do it and also, of course, a big “thank you”.

You can also prepare a special email to go to the patient directly after their treatment which links out to the review sites you like them to use. In addition, you can compile a reviews page on your website which also links out to your Google business profile, Facebook page or indeed any other platform you are targeting.

Provide excellent care and service!

Easier said than done but the key thing that motivates us all to leave reviews, good or bad, is the quality of the service we receive. This doesn’t just mean exceptional clinical care; it also relies heavily on the care provided throughout the complete patient journey, the facilities and surroundings and aftercare follow-up. Recognise that there are lots of dentists able to deliver this, so think about the differentiating factors which take you above and beyond them. If you go the extra mile, then chances are that some of your patients will too – and leave you that all important 5 star review!

Make sure your are present on the key review websites

This may seem obvious but you need to make sure that your business is actually present on the main review websites, so primarily Google and Facebook. Less important but still useful, are the dental specific reviews sites, but these will see much less traffic than the “big two”. This means checking that your Google “My Business” page is all present and correct, together with a professionally presented Facebook presence. Don’t leave this to chance – check these web properties regularly to ensure that they are accurate and to see how you are doing with your review count. Oh, and don’t forget those polite follow-up emails asking your patients to help out with a review!

Incentivise?

This is a tricky one and you should know that Google does not really allow you incentivise for reviews. If they catch you doing this, you can expect some form of penalty, either deletion of reviews or possibly worse. It could even affect your overall web ranking. However, you should also realise that lots of dental practices are doing this and apparently getting away with it; either as some form of money refund on future visits, shopping vouchers or similar. We don’t advise incentivising for reviews but the final decision is down to you.

Collect reviews at the dental practice

This is another confusing option in that lots of dentists wrongly think you can collect reviews on the day of treatment and then post these yourself to Google etc. This is ill-advised as the review sites can track where the review is being placed and will not allow multiple reviews from a single location. So please don’t do this. You also need to be aware of the services that offer to do this for you, for example providing a tablet for patients to enter reviews in the reception areas. These are NOT going on to Google etc and simply get collated back on the servers of the company offering the service. So for local search ranking and SEO generally, they are worthless.

However, there is some benefit in that some of these companies offer a system which collates existing reviews and allows you to publish them on your website via a “widget” which your web designers can add. But you can also collect the reviews yourself and ask your designer to add them directly – saving getting on for £100 per month!

The key here is that there is no universal “fire and forget” solution to collecting reviews – ultimately it needs to be driven by you and completed by your patients.

Summary

The review process is essential for dentists who wish to stimulate new patient enquiries via the web. The vast majority of us seek out reviews, good or bad, before purchasing products or services and dental patients are no different. So if you aren’t already proactively seeking out reviews at your own practice, now is the time to start.

If you need assistance with setting up the procedures and training needed to facilitate the review process, please get in touch with the team at Dental Media on 01332 672548.

Posted in Advice