A Dentist's Guide to Collect More Online Reviews
They're the first thing we look at when we want to purchase that XL Snuggie online, before we try a restaurant for the first time, and especially before choosing a new dentist. That's right, we're talking about — reviews.
A patient's journey often begins long before they step into your practice. It starts online, with a search and a scroll through your reviews. For dentists, those virtual votes of confidence from others can make a significant difference in building trust, attracting new patients, and improving your online visibility.
If you've ever wondered, "Why aren't more patients leaving reviews?" or "How can I get more high-quality feedback?" you're in the right place. In this guide, we'll discuss the significance of reviews and, more importantly, give you a roadmap on how to collect, manage, and showcase more high-quality reviews.
Why Are Reviews Important For A Dentist?
Did you know in 2020, BrightLocal highlighted that 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses before making a purchase or choosing to visit? Imagine what that statistic will be in 2023, especially in dentistry. 🤯
Not only do your reviews serve as one of your first impressions to people searching your name or for a dentist, but they also help with:
Creating Authentic Connections
Reviews speak volumes about your online persona. These aren't just stars and comments; they can be honest, life-changing stories from patients impacted by your service. Each positive review is a testament to the work you do, and the difference you make, and potential patients connect with that more than any marketing copy.
Building Trust With New Patients
It's one thing for a dental practice to promote its own achievements, but it's entirely different when the praise comes from an unbiased patient. When potential patients read these genuine experiences, they see a clear picture painted by their peers. After all, who do we trust more than someone else who's walked in our shoes?
Improving Your SEO Visibility
Google loves a profile chock full of detailed 5-star ratings. And when those reviews come with detailed descriptions, mentioning specifics like the city of your practice or the exact services your patient received, it's like adding fuel to the fire. More reviews with diverse keywords can improve your chances of being discovered by new patients searching online in your area.
Reviews are, without a doubt, more important than ever in dentistry; they speak volumes for your practice, can help garner trust with new patients, and have a noticeable effect on your search engine visibility, but how do we make the most out of our online reviews?
Which Dental Review Profiles Matter?
Your potential patients are everywhere, but there's no denying that some platforms have a broader reach than others. While there are many places to gather reviews, the top-tier dental review profiles you should focus on are:
- Google: Google (and other search engines) is where 77% of people begin searching for a new healthcare provider - making it #1 on the importance scale.
- Yelp: Yelp is popular and has been around for a while, with many influential, detailed reviews and a vast user base. It's worth updating and optimizing, especially if your practice is located on the West Coast or an urban area where there is a higher concentration of Yelp users.
- Facebook: Social media is where word-of-mouth happens, and your Facebook profile (and reviews) speak volumes in a popular setting.
- ZocDoc: More than 6 million patients use ZocDoc every month to book their healthcare appointments; you'll want to have a fully optimized profile on here as well.
Optimizing Your Online Profiles
While there are other profiles you can keep in mind, optimizing those four review profiles above is super important to your review success. Here's how you can make them the best they can be:
- High-Quality Photos: Ensure you have clear and professional photos of your clinic, staff, and perhaps even some happy patients (maybe its time for a content session?)
- Detailed Descriptions: Clearly describe the services you offer, your location, the equipment you use, and the expertise of your team on each profile.
- Regular Updates: Ensure your hours of operation, contact information, and any other relevant details are up-to-date (have any big promotions or new services to offer?).
- Engage with Reviewers: Respond to your reviews, both positive and negative. Reviews are an honest conversation, and patients want you to know you value their feedback.
- NAP Profile: Verify that your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) information is correct and the same across all of your review profiles. This consistency is vitally important and will help Google pinpoint your business to help with local discoverability.
- Link to Website: On every profile you create for reviews, make sure to include direct links to your website. These direct links will not only build up your backlink profile, but give patients a direct path to book an appointment with you after reading your reviews.
It's also essential to take the time to make sure your information is consistent across all your platforms to ensure each profile is trustworthy and helpful. Remember to set reminders to check on each routinely. 📝
When to Ask For Reviews
One of the best times to get honest feedback from your patients is immediately following their appointment before they leave. However, there are also several other critical times to ask for an honest review while their experience is fresh…
In-Office Review Requests:
As mentioned, when a patient concludes their visit, you can offer them the chance to share their experience on the spot. Feature a QR code linking directly to your Google Business profile in your waiting room for easier access, and make sure that your staff approaches this gently so no patient feels pressured to leave you a review. You could briefly mention it as they checkout!
Sometimes patients forget to leave a review or want to leave the office before they write it, and that's no problem at all. Send them a personalized reminder text after their appointment with a review link to give your patients an easy opportunity to streamline their review process.
You can opt for a softer, more delayed touch through personalized emails with direct links to your review profiles. Try to send this reminder an hour or two after their appointment, though, and make sure it is sincere and easy to access from any platform (mobile or desktop).
Automate Your Dental Review Process
Now we know what you're thinking, "I don't have the time or the bandwidth to send out all of those review reminders." And honestly, who does? Fortunately, many dental partnership platforms understand your hectic schedule and can assist or even automate this review request process.
- Swell: Able to plug into your existing systems, Swell is an automated integration platform that not only helps you generate more reviews automatically but also allows you to organize your reviews based on scores, metrics, or individual locations.
- Birdeye: Birdeye is another excellent platform that can be paired with your already-in-use PMS. Birdeye will help you automatically collect reviews, build your online reputation, and utilize their AI technology to organize and provide insights.
- Your Practice Management Software: Many PMS systems already come built-in with an automated system to request reviews after a patient's appointment as well! Contact your PMS provider to see if they have in-house solutions that you can integrate into your practice.
Remember, the ultimate goal is authenticity. The process of leaving a review should feel organic, emphasizing that patients are sharing genuine experiences and not just ticking a box. How do you respond, though, if those genuine experiences are anything less than positive feedback? 🤔
Addressing Negative Dental Reviews
While we all strive for glowing reviews, encountering a few negative ones is inevitable. However, with the right approach and while always adhering to HIPAA guidelines, these reviews can be turned into growth opportunities.
Act Quickly, Yet Thoughtfully
Don't let a negative review sit unanswered for too long. Responding promptly showcases your dedication to patient satisfaction and willingness to accept feedback. Aim to reply within 24-48 hours, but ensure you've taken the time to genuinely understand the situation without breaching any HIPAA regulations.
Authenticity is key. The last thing anyone wants is to feel dismissed with an automated response. Engage with the individual who left the feedback in a way that conveys your genuine empathy and concern, such as: "We truly regret that you've had this experience, and appreciate you bringing this to our attention."
Keep Your Response General
For HIPAA compliance, you should avoid discussing specifics or patient details online. Anything that falls into the category of Protected Health Information (PHI), even indicating whether or not a person is a patient of your office, should not be included in your response, Instead, adopt a general but empathetic approach such as:
"We're sorry for any inconvenience you may have experienced. We take every step possible to prioritize our patients’ care and well-being. Our team will reach out privately to address your concerns further and make sure everything is resolved appropriately. Thank you."
Taking discussions offline protects patient privacy while demonstrating your commitment to resolving issues. This also puts the responsibility on your office now to reach out to the person leaving the negative feedback rather than asking them to reach out to you (which they most likely wouldn't do).
We hope we've been able to show you just how critical dental reviews have become for the success of any growing practice. Reviews help build your online reputation, tell the story of your practice from your patient's perspective, and help boost online SEO visibility.
But, as we've seen, gathering these reviews isn't just about boosting your online profile — it's about connecting authentically with your patients, understanding their needs, celebrating your successes, and learning from your challenges. It's a continuous cycle of feedback that allows you to improve, evolve, and offer the best service possible.
If you have any other questions about how to get the most out of your digital marketing or maybe need some clarification on the strategies you currently have in place, our team at Studio EightyEight is happy to help. Drop us a message or reach out on social media, and we'll be in touch! And since we're on the topic, consider leaving us a review if we’ve had the privilege to serve your practice 🎉