How Your Dental Clinic Can Benefit from Reputation Management

If you’ve never heard of “reputation management” before it probably sounds like something from the entertainment industry – the kind of job done by someone working for a major film studio or record label.

But while the entertainment industry certainly has its fair share of people whose jobs consist of burnishing and protecting the reputations of the biggest stars, you might be surprised to learn that reputation management should also be a concern for dental clinics.

As a dental healthcare provider, your good reputation is a priceless asset – one that will be a natural draw for new patients. And in the age of online reviews, managing that reputation and making sure that it isn’t tarnished unfairly is something every dental clinic should take seriously.

While I have written before about the importance of online reviews for dental businesses of all sizes, in this post I specifically discuss the role of review management software – a key tool to help you bring your reputation management into the twenty-first century.

To that end, I’ll answer three of the most common questions that I get from healthcare providers who want to know more about reputation management services in general and review management software in particular.

1. What is Review Management Software?

Review management software is designed to help businesses of all kinds effectively handle their online reviews. According to a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, negative online reviews can sometimes cause doctors to see significant drops in patient enrolment, which can snowball into catastrophe if left unchecked. 

Most review management software offers a variety of tools that help you acquire a greater volume of reviews on social media as well as industry-specific websites. It also helps you curate the reviews you receive from your dental patients and highlight the most positive ones.

Review management software usually doesn’t interfere with negative reviews but it does provide response options that allow you to manage reviews from unsatisfied patients to minimize the negative impact and ensure that the issues they raise are dealt with productively.

Perhaps most importantly, review management software takes a lot of the uncertainty out of review management and gives you the opportunity to easily oversee how your dental clinic is being talked about online.

2. How Does Review Management Software Work?

Review management software for dentists works on four distinct fronts by:

  • Increasing review volume
  • Highlighting the best reviews
  • Responding to negative reviews
  • Optimizing the placement of reviews

For example, this software helps you solicit more reviews by automating review acquisition campaigns via email and text, which means that you don’t have to organize your own campaigns every month or every two months. It also sends you and your team alerts every time a review is posted, which puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to responding to negative reviews and helps you mark up positive ones so that they will be more SEO-friendly, and consequently more likely to be seen by potential patients.

Finally, this software lets you track your performance over time, so you can get a bird’s eye view of how your patients are evaluating the service your clinic provides.

3. What Difference Does it Make?

While most dental clinic managers and owners intuitively understand that a good reputation is essential for growing their patient base, I often hear people ask whether review management software really makes a difference. After all, if you already have good word-of-mouth promotion, will a few reviews whether positive or negative, really make a difference to your business?

The truth is that as the Internet becomes a more and more integral part of how we gather information and make decisions, word-of-mouth is no longer enough – you also need strong online reviews.

According to recent data, 90% of consumers consult online reviews before visiting any business, while 88% of consumers value online reviews as highly as the recommendations of their friends and family. This doesn’t mean that a few mean-spirited reviews online can cancel out the testimonies of satisfied patients, as long as your positive reviews sound genuine and speak to the same positive experiences. 

One thing to remember is that bad reviews come easily, while good reviews don’t, so it pays to invest in software that encourages your patients to do the latter.

Patients, like any type of consumer, are more likely to actually take time out of their day to write a review if they had a bad experience. Essentially, these reviews act as a warning to others. The good news is that people who seek out online reviews are savvy and if they see one negative review stacked up against 20 positive ones, they will be able to read the numbers and understand that one bad review likely doesn’t speak to the overall service provided by a dental practice.

With a growing number of patients making decisions about which healthcare providers to choose based on what they read online, ensuring that your online reviews reflect the best service you provide is essential. And, the best way to garner positive reviews is to simply ask for them.

If you want to grow your business and attract new patients to your dental clinic, building a strong reputation, cultivating good reviews, and ensuring that negative reviews are not prominently displayed needs to be part of your strategy. Review management software is by far the best tool for making this strategy work.   

Gen Z At The Dentist: Challenges and Opportunities

How do I engage young people?

It’s a question I hear often and it can be a difficult one to answer. Usually the person asking works for a clinic that is seeing declining numbers and wants to find ways to draw in Gen Z patients who are starting new careers and trying to find healthcare providers.

While there is no one guaranteed method for attracting young patients, there are a few things you can do to make your clinic more attractive to them both as patients and employees. It all starts with understanding how this cohort differs from previous generations.

Who is Gen Z?

If you’ve only just gotten used to the fact that Millennials are about to replace the Boomers as the largest generation, hold on – a whole new generation is now reaching adulthood and understanding their needs is going to be essential if you want your clinic to grow.

According to most demographic researchers, Generation Z consists of those who were born between the mid-nineties and the mid-two-thousands. While most Millennials were shaped by the experience of spending the first years of their lives in a largely analog world, the Internet and the rise of social media was nevertheless a formative experience.

Gen Z, on the other hand, largely doesn’t remember a world before computers and the Internet. They are the first generation that can be considered true “digital natives“. Digital connection is the natural state of things for Gen Z and influences much of how they see and interact with the world.

As Dr. Jean Twenge explains in this video for Time Magazine, this key difference is having a profound effect on how Gen Z engages with the world.

Generally speaking, members of Gen Z share a set of distinct qualities. They tend to be:

  • Entrepreneurial
  • Digitally savvy
  • Plugged in
  • Independent
  • Hard-working
  • Interested in connection

If you want to attract young people as patients and as employees, you are going to need to understand how they think, what they value and where to most effectively make contact.  

How to Connect With Gen Z Patients

One of the key challenges any dental clinic will face when trying to connect with Gen Z patients is the fact that young people are not always as careful about their health as their older peers might be.

Having just started to live independent lives, many are too busy or too disorganized to book regular healthcare appointments. And if they are going to school away from home, they might not have a regular healthcare provider.

This means that dental clinics need to be more intentional about connecting with Gen Z patients and reminding them to make and follow up on appointments. For this reason, getting the right dental patient communication software can really increase follow through and help you meet your Gen Z patients where they are. Strong patient communication that results in reliable scheduling will go a long way in attracting and retaining Gen Z patients.

Making Gen Z Part of Your Team

Bringing in Gen Z patients is important, but if you want to serve Gen Z well as patients, it helps if you hire them as employees.

So how do you reach out to this key demographic and how can you make sure you are hiring the best candidates for the job? Here are just a few things that can help bring in more resumes from hard-working Gen Z applicants.    

  • Connect with them early: If you want to get the top talent working at your dental clinic, reach out to them while they are still finishing up a dental program. Many Gen Z students are applying for jobs before they are out of college, so making connections early on is important. 
  • Emphasize cross-training: One of the well-documented facts about Gen Z is that multi-tasking comes naturally to them.  Keeping them engaged and interested in how your clinic runs by giving them opportunities for cross training is an effective strategy. 
  • Find out what they want: More than previous generations, Gen Z knows it has options. Discovering what young candidates are looking for and what their expectations are is a great way to make sure your Gen Z hires are a good fit.
  • Be Decisive: Your Gen Z candidate is probably applying to dozens of jobs, so once you decide to hire them, let them know right away!

Gen Z is particularly competitive and they are focused on being the best, doing their best, and receiving the best incentives in return. Patience is not a strong suit with Gen Zers and they are used to having everything at their fingertips.

Whether you’re trying to land a Gen Z as a patient or as an employee, you need to act quickly as Gen Zers will move on to new opportunities if they don’t see immediate results and rewards.

As I have written before in this space, tailoring your marketing to the demographics you are hoping to reach is essential if you want to have a concrete impact and bring in new patients and employees.  

Whether you are trying to attract Millennials or the emerging Generation Z, appealing to new patients and new employees will come down to demonstrating that you care about their needs and are willing to adjust your dental practice to meet them. Remember, the younger generations are the future of healthcare and building a dental clinic that works for them is a great way to guarantee future growth!

 

Why They Stay and Why They Go: A Guide to Keeping Patients

It’s a situation most dentists can unfortunately relate to: a patient who has been coming to you for years calls to cancel their upcoming appointment or doesn’t show up for it at all.

At first you think it’s just a scheduling issue, but then you find out they’ve transferred to another dentist a few blocks away. Clearly they didn’t move out of the city and they obviously still need care – so what happened?

Why, after years of coming to your dental clinic, did they decide to switch? Many of the dentists I talk to can’t help but admit that they often feel hurt in these situations. While that feeling is natural, the reason usually is not personal.

Patients come to your practice for the service you provide so instead of wondering what is wrong with you, it’s better to treat it as a learning experience that can help you improve the level of care you offer.

Why do Patients Leave?

If you want to improve patient retention, you need to understand why patients decide to switch service providers in the first place. While you can’t control all the factors that lead a patient to leave, you can make it easier for them to stay.

Here are the top reasons, according to one leading industry magazine, why patients leave dental service providers:

  • Bad experiences at the front desk
  • Long wait times
  • Difficulties getting timely appointments or changing appointments
  • Insurance problems
  • Perception of unnecessary discomfort during care

From my own experience, and from the experience of dental professionals I work with, I would add a few others:

  • Concerns over prices
  • Outdated methods of patient communication
  • Perception the practice is not “modern” and keeping up with the latest technologies
  • Better service available elsewhere

Switching healthcare providers is not very convenient, which is why people generally only do it if they are legitimately unhappy with the service they’ve experienced.

The good news is that there are strategies clinics can employ to keep their patients, such as investing in better dental software or making the patient experience more enjoyable. If you want to improve patient retention here are four things you should start doing immediately: 

1. Hire A Secret Shopper

A lot of work is involved in setting up your own practice and once things are running smoothly it can be easy to fall into routines. While routines are not bad in and of themselves (in fact can be very useful in the workplace!) routines can make it easy to become complacent. And, when you spend every day working in your clinic it can be difficult to know how a patient seeing it for the first time experiences it.

One way to get a first-time patient’s honest take is by hiring someone to act as a patient and then report on their experience at your clinic. This can help you see your clinic through fresh eyes and give you an opportunity to learn what kind of treatment your patients are getting from your receptionists and hygienists.  

2. Get Patient Feedback – And Act On It

There are lots of tools that can help you get feedback from your patients about how your clinic is doing but none of it is worth much if you aren’t able to act on it.

While dentists and healthcare service providers around the world are investing lots of resources in getting customer feedback, implementing the insights that feedback provides is often significantly more difficult.

Listening to what patients tell you is one of the most essential aspects of improving care. For example, if they say:

3. Manage Your Reputation

It’s easy to imagine that reputation management only matters for bringing in new patients. Yet the truth is that a patient’s view of the care they receive can be shaped by the views they are exposed to.

If you heard someone complaining about the food they ate at a restaurant you frequent wouldn’t it make you think twice about your own experience?

Being intentional about how your brand is perceived online can also help with patient retention, which is why you should consider making dental reputation management software part of your patient retention strategy asap.

Because reputation is something that you can mold over time, you can expect quantifiable results that will actively grow and improve your business so long as you’re willing to put in a little time and effort.

There are numerous benefits to maintaining a solid online reputation, but here are the ones I think are the most valuable:

  • Higher trust – People’s trust in a brand rises alongside its reputation.
  • Increased profits – Companies with better ratings and reviews get more business.
  • Better talent – Brands that boast a positive reputation will ultimately attract better employees.
  • Less risk – People move with crowds and reputation management is a way to attract that crowd.

4. Know Your Competition

In the healthcare industry we don’t often like to think of ourselves as being in competition with each other. But the reality is that when patients have options for care, they will inevitably compare your dental practice to others.

Knowing which dental clinics are in your area and how your service stacks up to theirs is essential if you are to stay competitive, so do your research and find out where your practice is falling behind other clinics in your area.

Losing patients can certainly be a demoralizing experience. Rather than taking it personally, it’s wise to treat it as an opportunity to figure out what you can do to minimize this type of setback in the future!