In the past, dental practices built their reputation by word-of-mouth advertising, print and mass media campaigns, and establishing themselves in communities. These forms of marketing are still valuable and necessary tools, but they don’t account for a major source of publicity for modern practices: online reviews.
The ascendency of the internet as the primary method for researching businesses of all kinds has permanently altered marketing strategies. If your dental practice wants to grow and build its reputation, it should look to optimize and promote its online reputation.
Ninety-two percent of consumers now read online reviews before making purchasing decisions.¹ This statistic means that many of your potential clients are looking your practice up online prior to ever speaking with you or your staff. They’re getting their first impression of your practice from star rankings on Google or comments on Facebook. It’s imperative that you make this first impression overwhelmingly positive by amassing a high number of reviews on these sites.
If you’re a small practice, you may still believe that word-of-mouth is more effective than developing a strong online presence. However, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust the opinions of their peers.² At the very least, your practice should be working to develop an online reputation that matches the personal recommendations given by its most loyal patients.
Let’s look at seven habits for boosting your reviews on Google.
1. Set up a business profile with Google
In order to collect reviews on Google, you first need to set up a profile on their site. This profile includes details like your physical address, practice website, and pictures that will be displayed in search results. Once this profile is established, your office can begin to gather reviews that will make you more visible to the public.
Google’s search algorithm favors businesses that have a high number of quality reviews. As your practice builds its review base, it’s more likely to appear near the top of search results for dental offices in your area. So when prospective customers decide to look up dentists in their area, your practice’s name will be one of their first options they see.
For those without much experience in developing online marketing, this process may seem daunting. It’s a departure from traditional advertising modes. That’s why it’s important to have the right tools to implement this sort of strategy.
A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system is an indispensable tool for offices trying to build their online presence. As you’ll see in the following habits, phones using the internet rather than a landline make the process of collecting reviews significantly easier.
2. Send review requests by text
The old way of gathering testimonials from patients involved either recording them or asking them to jot down their thoughts on paper. These methods take up a lot of time for both clients and employees. Clients are usually rushing out the door after appointments, and front office workers generally have a whole laundry list of other tasks to handle.
Practices can save their patients and employees time by simply sending review requests by text following appointments. These texts don’t need to be complicated. They should include a polite request for an online review and a link to a popular review site like Google.
Texted review requests let customers share their thoughts whenever they get a chance rather than spending an additional 15 minutes in your office after an appointment. They also allow receptionists and administrators to quickly send a request and then get back to their host of other responsibilities. This approach to reviews ends up wasting less resources because it relies on strictly digital formats.
3. Automate your review requests
Sending review requests by text is one step toward optimizing your review-collecting efforts. Like many other tasks in a modern dental office, these requests can be automated when your practice has the right software onboard. Automating your review requests goes beyond manually sending texts by taking the human error out of the process altogether.
As we’ve already mentioned, front office staff have a lot on their plate. They sometimes forget small tasks like sending a review request after an appointment. By setting up review requests to go out to patients automatically after their appointments, you’re protecting employees from having to remember review requests and ensuring that your practice asks every satisfied customer to post a review.
4. Monitor your practice’s online reviews
Collecting online reviews is not without risk. If patients are dissatisfied with your practice, negative reviews could inflict harm on your reputation. There’s also the potential for competitors or trolls to sabotage your reviews by fabricating negative reviews.
That’s why your practice needs an interface through which to monitor your progress on review sites like Google. Sure, your administrators and receptionists could go directly to each review site to check on your ratings, but being able to quickly check your online ratings from the same place you handle all your other communication improves efficiency.
Keeping tabs on your online reviews prevents things from getting off kilter. Seeing the positive reviews roll in boosts morale, and noticing drops in your rating lets you know that your practice should take action and inspect the reasons for a reduced online score. Reading through online reviews also gives you an opportunity to learn what you’re doing right and what needs to be fixed to optimize your practice.
5. Engage with online reviewers
When you see particularly positive or negative feedback on Google Reviews, start a conversation with reviewers. High-quality reviews can be repurposed for your website and other publications. Just make sure to get the permission of the reviewer before using their post for your other marketing endeavors.
Extremely negative reviews can be dealt with in a number of ways. If the patient is a genuinely dissatisfied customer, find out specifically what went wrong with their visit to your practice. A few bad reviews won’t kill your online reputation; in fact, people distrust practices with exclusively positive reviews.
6. Utilize email as an alternative
Review requests sent by text appeal to patients because they’re convenient and arrive after they’ve just had an in-person, positive visit to your practice. However, it’s not the only way to collect online reviews. Emailing is an effective alternative that lets you contact your entire customer base in one fell swoop.
Emailing has components that you can’t offer by text. Emails can be long-form and provide a more detailed description of why your office wants to gather online reviews from patients. It also lets you include a visual component that catches readers’ eyes, whether it’s a photograph or just your practice’s logo.
7. Provide the best patient journey possible
Many consumers post online reviews without businesses even asking for them. You want to make the patient journey as comfortable and satisfactory as possible in order to garner positive online reviews. Setting up a consolidated communication system is foundational for dental practices trying to optimize their customer service.
About the Author
Luke Warnock is a content writer for Weave, the all-in-one customer communication and engagement platform for small business.
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