When most people need a car dealer, a roofer, or even a sandwich shop, they check the recommendations online before ever stepping foot inside the business. In fact, almost 90 percent of web users say they use online reviews to choose a local business. More than any other group, parents look to online reviews to recommend a dentist for their children.
As sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook work to improve their review technology, consumers’ trust in these sites is going up. Even though most people approach online reviews with a dose of skepticism, about 80 percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation.
Whether you know it or not, your practice’s reputation and overall growth are heavily influenced by online reviews. Pediatric dentists need to be especially proactive. Reviews are a deciding factor for many parents, and they are an organic extension of your practice’s marketing efforts. They even have the added benefit of providing feedback about how your practice is doing so that you can improve.
Dos and Don’ts of Online Reviews
Building a genuine, complete review profile can be a challenge. First, you have to deserve a five-star reputation in order to get one.
Do use multiple review sites.
Target your efforts toward Google, Healthgrades, Vitals, Yelp, and Facebook. Claim, optimize, and promote your profiles on these sites.
Don’t write fake reviews.
Don’t write fake reviews or ask anyone to do it on your behalf. It’s not just unethical, but as technology improves, it’s getting easier to detect fake reviews. When you’re trying to build an online reputation, don’t build a reputation for dishonesty.
Do encourage patients to leave reviews.
It’s generally a great idea to encourage your patients to leave reviews—there are even services that will help you do it! The entire dental team needs to understand the importance of reviews; it can’t all fall on you!
Don’t compensate reviewers.
It’s quite all right to remind or help patients to leave a review, but you shouldn’t compensate them for providing feedback. This violates the terms of service for most sites, and in some areas it’s even against the law.
Do respond to reviews.
Both positive and negative reviews of your practice deserve a response. This requires that you monitor review sites frequently, but it serves a couple of purposes. In the event of a negative review, a prompt response might enable your practice to help an upset patient, who might just modify or remove their review after the fact. Even if they don’t, it’s also a great demonstration of a high level of customer service.
Don’t have patients leave reviews while they’re at the practice.
I’ve seen practices with a review kiosk, usually a tablet or computer with the sole purpose of having patients leave reviews. It might seem practical, but it’s not a good idea. These reviews might be considered biased and are easily flagged by review sites as being fishy, since it looks like you are writing all the reviews yourself.
The Importance of Online Reviews for Dentists Is Only Going to Grow.
Online reviews are not just a deciding factor for many parents seeking dental care for their children, but they could be the determining factor for whether you even appear in their search results.
Google’s ranking system heavily factors the number and quality of reviews your practice has for determining your ranking, both in local maps and in organic search. Furthermore, local search on Google includes the ability to filter out dental practices with low quality and quantity of reviews.
Building a successful online review strategy will involve your whole dental team. Receptionists, dental assistants, and even you need to be committed to providing a positive patient experience and encouraging feedback.
~ Dr. Rhea Haugseth