The second best thing to a patient referral

Engaging with online reviews can grow your dental practices. Our tips and tricks will help you master online review management.

Yelp popularized them. Google and Facebook made them essential. What are they? Online reviews.

Positive online reviews drive increased revenue through new patient acquisition. Local business reviews let potential patients weigh the experiences of others when choosing a new dentist. The more reviews, with the most stars possible, is always most desirable.

A whopping 92% of consumers read online reviews. 68% say a positive review helps them trust a local business more. Going further, 44% say a review must have been written within the previous month to be relevant. This highlights the importance of always seeking new reviews from patients. Perhaps most importantly, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

At the very least, your practices should have a Google My Business page, a Facebook page, and a Yelp profile. You may choose to go even further with services like Healthgrades. All of these services allow patients to leave reviews. Each of your practices should have their own profile on an online review platform.

Your staff should encourage every patient to leave a positive online review. Get a poster printed, frame it and hang it on your waiting room wall inviting patients to leave a positive online review. Have a framed 8.5″x11.5″ reminder hung next to your door that patients see on their way out. Get postcards printed with all of the ways to leave an online review and give one to each patient upon checkout. Send a follow-up text or email with direct links inviting them to share their experience with others. Make it as easy as possible for patients to leave you an online review.

With 26% of consumers saying that it is important for local businesses to respond to online reviews, someone on your team should go through all of the online reviews at least once a week and respond to new ones, even if it is just to say thank you, or to sincerely apologize for a not-so-positive experience. While managing reviews can be time-consuming, there are online reputation management tools that can aid your team. One point of caution is that your employees must always consider HIPAA rules when replying.

Each review a patient posts online is free advertising for your practices. They’re exposed to other consumers, increasing their awareness of your practices. They also boost your search engine rankings. Google and other search engines will rank a highly rated practice over those with lower ratings.

Even negative reviews create an opportunity for your practices. Patients who are unwilling to voice their concerns in person may be more comfortable doing so online. Such reviews provide you with the ability to identify negative trends and rectify them. While your associate is busy in the operatory, the receptionist may be out front being rude to patients. Many patients would be uncomfortable confronting the receptionist directly and likely too timid to tell the dentist about their negative experience. An online review may be an outlet for them to vent their frustrations and provide your team with the opportunity to take action.

As mentioned earlier, online reviews enable you to build closer relationships with patients, both existing and new. Through thoughtful and polite replies, potential patients can get to know the people working in your practices rather than only being able to identify you as “Practice X.” Some sites, like Yelp, even require business owners to post a clear picture of themselves before being able to reply to reviews. This builds trust.

If you have been struggling with writing your dental brand story, online reviews are a great place to learn how patients view your practices.

Chances are if your practices have been operating for a while, they already have online reviews. If your employees are not already engaging with these reviews, now is the time to start.

May your life be filled with five stars.

Jesse Barron is the Executive Editor of DSO News. He is also a Managing Partner of Dental Allies, Inc. Dental Allies helps practices and dental businesses scale. They accomplish this by focusing their clients on culture, growth, automation and operational improvement. They are partnered with the processing affiliate of a bank to provide the lowest payment processing rates in dental. They’ll introduce you. They are big on making meaningful introductions. Dental Allies delivers results that are real, impactful and meaningful. He feels most challenged and content when automating a previously manual process.