Imagine you’ve just moved to a new town: there are many things you will need to take care of in the first few weeks, but finding new service providers like bankers, lawyers, doctors, and dentists who you can trust to take care of your financial and healthcare needs will be one of the most important. So, what do you do?
For most of us, the answer is simple – go online, and start looking at reviews. Websites like Yelp Google Reviews, Facebook and Ratemds.com (for healthcare providers) are a great way to find out what other peoples’ experiences have been like, and they can save us a lot of time and trouble when it comes to locating the best service providers for our needs.
As a business owner, I know first hand just how important reviews can be for dental clinics that want to grow their patient base. If potential clients can go online and see that real people have appreciated the service they received, it makes them feel a lot more comfortable about trying it out for themselves. I know I always feel better about checking out a new dental practice if I can see what other people are saying about it first!
While all service providers should be aware of the importance of good reviews, there are even more reasons why those responsible for dental practice management need to take this kind of customer feedback especially seriously.
Most dentists and dental hygienists care deeply for their patients and will bend over backward to make their experience more comfortable, but research suggests that large numbers of adults routinely avoid having their teeth checked due to fears of going to the dentist. Having lots of good reviews is one important step toward helping patients feel more comfortable visiting your clinic.
But how can you increase the number of good reviews you get? This week, I’ve provided a few ways you can make the most of online reviews.
Good Service = Good Reviews
When it comes to making your patients feel welcomed, comfortable and cared for, there really are no shortcuts. If your clinic isn’t offering patients a personalized experience that lets them know you take their health and well being seriously, no amount of marketing is going to make up for that.
But improving patient experience isn’t just about treating them as gently and empathetically as possible when they’re in the dentist’s chair. Remember, your patient’s experience begins the moment they pick up the phone or send an email to request an appointment: if you want to make a good impression, you need to make sure that patients feel comfortable and in control from the beginning.
Appointment Scheduling Software Can Help
One easy way to improve your patients’ overall experience is to use practice management software that remembers and easily finds a patient’s preferred appointment time. It’s also helpful to patients if the software can locate patients who want to come in earlier if a preferred time opens up.
Patient Portals also give patients an easy way to participate in the management of the dental care when it comes to managing appointments, reviewing their personal health information record, and responding to post-visit surveys. And because it includes options that allow patients to refer new patients to the practice, it makes word-of-mouth recommendations that much easier.
5 Steps Worth Taking to Increase Review Numbers
While good service is essential, it isn’t everything. If you don’t have any reviews, you may need to jump-start the process yourself. Here are a few things you can do to get started:
1. Ask Your Regulars to Submit a Review
If you have patients who have been with you for a long time, ask if they would be willing to contribute a review. This is the best way to build momentum initially.
2. Provide Patients Guidance for Reviewing
Recommend review platforms that don’t require payment from you in order to receive positive reviews since their credibility is naturally suspect. Also, choose sites that allow you to respond to the review if possible, particularly to address negative comments. Recommend sites that have a large user base since more people will see your patients’ reviews and keep track of which sites provide the best results. This way you can narrow down the recommended sites over time and build a significant review base per site.
3. Use Social Media as an Outreach Tool
Increasingly, social media is becoming a major way that people connect to and discuss their experiences with healthcare services, and there are lots of resources that can help you use social media to spread the word about your dental practice. Or better yet, read our post on Facebook groups to learn how easy it is to get started.
4. Thank Your Reviewers
Gratitude is a powerful motivator, and reaching out to reviewers who comment positively is a great way to ensure they keep spreading the news. For those who leave negative comments, it’s a good way to address concerns and make people feel heard.
5. Track Patient Satisfaction
Most practice management software (including ABELDent) gives you the ability to use “Flags” that you can designate to define particular patient profiles. Use one to indicate your estimation of the patient’s level of satisfaction with your services. This makes it easier to target highly satisfied patients that are most likely to give you a positive review. Use another flag to indicate patients that have provided a review to avoid unnecessary solicitation.
Finally, it is important to remember that, as you increase the number of overall reviews, you’ll inevitably increase the chances of getting a bad review. When this happens, don’t sweat it: if people on the whole are positive about your clinic, a couple of negative reviews will only confirm the authenticity of the positive reviews.
In a media-saturated world, one good word from an existing patient to a potential one is worth dozens of paid advertisements. Make sure your dental clinic is capitalizing on the power of positive reviews!