By Patrick Chavoustie, President, Omni Premier Dental Marketing
From the Summer 2019 Journal of the Colorado Dental Association
We have all heard that if someone is happy with their experience, they will tell one person, but if they are angry, they will tell 20. That saying may have applied 20 years ago; however, in today’s age, with one click of a mouse, someone can share a bad experience with millions of people in a matter of seconds.
If growing your practice is essential to you, pay close attention to the following:
- 95% of people ages 18-34 read online reviews for local businesses before making a decision to contact that business.
- 91% of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 57% will only use a company if it has four or more stars.
So how do you win this online review game?
Step 1: Google yourself, your brand name and your associates’ names.
A simple Google search can let you know how your reputation appears to potential new clients online. Searching on Google can also show you opportunities to list your practice online so people can more easily find you. If you are not working with a dental marketing company that offers reputation management, I recommend creating an Excel spreadsheet or Google sheet to list every site URL that you find your name or your brand’s name on. You can then use this list to help build your online reputation (see Step 4).
Step 2: Listen to what the reviews are saying.
Both good and bad reviews can provide you with excellent feedback on not only how you are performing but how your entire team is performing. It’s quite often that negative reviews have nothing to do with the actual dental treatment the customer received. Instead, they often focus on customer service issues like hold time on the phone, attitude from the staff, cleanliness, ease of booking an appointment and wait times once in the office. Make it a priority to improve on the areas criticized but also consider improving in areas mentioned in positive reviews too. Continually exceeding expectations will inspire more future positive reviews.
Step 3: Respond to ALL reviews, positive and negative.
I recommend responding to all online reviews good or bad. Responses should always be filled with grace and never with a condescending or sarcastic tone. Remember that your responses will be there for all to see so use it as an opportunity to show potential customers how you treat those who give you negative feedback and how your goal is to listen and improve. Responding to reviews, good or bad, is an excellent opportunity to show just how much you care about your customers.
A note about responding to negative reviews – Make sure to respond to any negative review with the golden rule in mind: How would you want to be treated after a bad experience? Better yet, think about how someone could have made a lousy experience you received into a positive one? Responding shows the reviewer that you care, but also shows potential patients that you care. I highly recommend thanking them for the review and apologizing. An example of how to start is: “Thank you very much for your feedback, we are sorry that we fell short explaining the cost of services to you…” Let the reviewer know that they, like all customers, are valued and that you want to provide a world-class experience for all. You can also include something such as: “We truly value each person who calls or visits our office. Because of your feedback, we are going to reconsider how we present dental treatment plans and make changes accordingly because it is essential that we are the leaders in dental care and customer satisfaction in Denver.”
It is impossible to be all things to all people, and everyone knows you cannot make everyone happy, but there is nothing wrong with trying, and most people will appreciate the effort. The majority of people do not expect perfection, but they do expect people to try to turn around a bad experience.
Step 4: Create a strategy and process for receiving more online reviews.
While rare, sometimes a practice or dentist will receive an undeserved negative review. Perhaps your patient wanted something for free or was upset because they experienced some discomfort others would find reasonable. Possibly you or one of your staff were having a bad day and were rude to a patient. It happens. The best way to overcome this situation is to drown it out before it happens.
A bad review will occur from time to time, but if 10%, 20% or 30% of your reviews are negative, your bottom line is going to suffer. There are only two ways this can happen:
- You consistently provide terrible experiences because you haven’t put your customers as a priority.
- Your few unhappy clients are the only vocal ones while your raving fans sit silent.
Here are two ways you can help get your fans to be more vocal:
- Ask in person
- Ask each patient to share their experience on their favorite website and let them know how important it is to you.
- Ask team members to ask for reviews; it takes two seconds to ask someone to review you online.
- Put out signs asking for reviews.
- Ask for reviews on appointment reminder cards.
- Ask via text or email
- Subscribe to a reputation service. This types of service can allow you (with customer permission) to send out a survey via text or email. If the customer indicates they had a great experience, it will then give them one-click access to Google, Facebook, Yelp or any other review site.
- Include links to review you in all of your emails and communications
Step 5: Keep an ear to the ground.
Monitor all review sites regularly. Set up Google news alerts to automatically notify you when someone mentions your name, associates’ names, or brand name. If your Google My Business is set up correctly, you can use settings to notify you before some reviews on Google even go live.
It seems like a lot of work. Is it?
The correct answer to this question is yes, it is a lot of work; however, its important and should not be overlooked. Delegating these tasks will most likely make sense for most dentists. This can be delegated to a trusted staff member or outsourced to a reputable dental marketing company. Working on these ever-changing, virtually endless tasks should be a top priority, no matter how you choose to tackle it. Remember your character is who you are; your online reputation is how people perceive who you are. Your online reputation will not be your first impression, but it will dictate whether you get the chance to make a first impression.
Patrick Chavoustie is the founder and president of Omni Premier Dental Marketing, a Colorado-based company that provides dental websites, SEO, video, and reputation management to dental practices nationwide. Learn more at https://omnipremier.com/.