Online reviews are incredibly valuable in the healthcare marketplace. If you are reading this post, it is likely you are already aware of some of the benefits of online reviews. But if not, I list a few of the biggest so that we are all on the same page.
- Online reviews are a fairly significant part of the local search algorithm used by Google and Bing when determining how your practice should rank for local search terms like “Your City dentist” or “dentist in Your City.” While reviews aren’t the only factor, they do play an important role.
- They help users make decisions. In the old days, people would ask a trusted friend who they used for healthcare care. Today, those same verbal recommendations occur, but they are often happening on social media. Responses often come with tags or links connecting your practice’s website or Facebook profile directly with the person asking. Often, these users will dig deeper and a practice with many positive reviews is more likely to get the business. Also, Facebook will draw attention to other friends that have reviewed or like that business so it provides an additional opportunity for people to receive more peer validation of their choice of practice.
- Instead of asking a friend in person or on social media, potential patients will search the Internet for a practice in their area. When they have found potential candidates, the online reviews help them decided which practice is the best fit.
The advice, positive or negative, from a friend or even a stranger, has a great deal of influence over their selection of a provider. So how do practices get more reviews? Below we have outlined 3 quick tips for getting more reviews.
- Make it easy! Oftentimes we will find practices requesting reviews from patients but they aren’t indicating how or where the reviews should be made. We suggest creating a list of a variety of locations like Google, Yelp, BBB, or Bing where patients can leave reviews. The benefit to having a list is that many of your patients will have an account at one of the options already so they can choose the option that is the easiest for them. It is also helpful to provide links to the exact profiles. When it is just one-click-away, it’ll prevent users from getting distracted or confused during the process.
- Ask in person. We have found that asking a patient in person to leave an online review significantly increases the likelihood they will do so. It also opens up the opportunity for honest feedback if the patient had a lackluster experience. This approach could come from the practice, a hygienist, or the front desk scheduler. Having the campaign flyer listed in tip 1 helps to make sure that the person remembers to review your practice at a later date and time when they have the margin to do so.
- Ask when they have margin. Your patients are in a hurry to get out of the office. They may have good intentions to review your practice, but they may not have time immediately and once they get back to normal life they likely will forget about your conversation. Find a way to collect the email address of an interested patient and put them on a mailing list. Have the mailing list follow-up at about 7PM that evening with a personalized email, and then maybe again in about 5 days. This will give them a couple of nice friendly reminders at a time of day they are likely to have the margin to spend a few minutes helping your practice.
Bonus idea: Make it a part of your office exit, i.e. Exit Quizzer. We have developed a small quiz program that can be run on a computer in your office. When a user is waiting to complete their billing process you can have them answer a few short questions. If their overall response is positive, the system will give them the ability to provide an online review. It will display on screen some of the most popular locations for the user to provide a review and allow them to step through the process online on that machine while they’re still in the office. This system allows your practice to get real-time insight into your patient’s experience at the practice while also helping to generate online reviews. If you are interested in learning more about an Exit Quizzer subscription, you can contact us.
These are just a few ways to help increase your lead totals. Each practice is different and the flow of patients through your practice may impact how you implement these ideas. Hopefully, they will work as well for your practice as they have for our healthcare clients.
At Zipline, we are firm believers in the importance of branding for a healthcare practice. In our opinion, every aspect of your marketing and patient experience should work together to create a consistent flow and image of your practice for your patients.
We have seen many healthcare practices who have a beautiful, modern website which creates the impression that you will be visiting a high-end health spa. But when a new patient arrives, the office is in a strip mall in the bad part of town and the interior of the office looks like a dirty old retirement home. This same disconnect can also occur in reverse. You could spend a great deal of money creating a luxurious office with high end service, but your website or marketing material fails to convey that to potential patients.
Both of these scenarios are likely to result in a negative impact to your practice. In the first scenario, you are likely to lose the customer because they thought they were buying a Lexus and got a rusty Schwinn. In the second scenario, the rare customer that makes it to your practice will be pleasantly surprised but the bulk of the people that visit your website won’t bother to give your practice a try, instead, opting for the provider down the street.
How do we know if we have a problem?
Be honest with yourself. Is your office visually appealing? Does it feel clean? Does it feel safe and inviting? If the answer is no to any of those questions, you need to address the problems immediately and then move on to the next advice. If you answered yes, then you need to examine your marketing to make sure that your website and other collateral material convey the same message. If your office has a rugged outdoor feel, then your website and marketing should mimic this experience pulling the colors and design elements from your theme. Or if your office is modern and techy, then your website should have the same modern feel. This helps patients select a healthcare experience that is going to be a good fit for themselves and/or their families.
Does it really matter?
Setting expectations is important. A patient that enters your office with realistic expectations is much easier to please. We recently encountered a practice who was not setting realistic expectations for her patients. This resulted in some really awful online reviews. One of the reviews said, “xxxxx dentistry looks good online, but my visit was worse than going to Tijuana to see a dentist.” The review went on to describe how the office was dirty and the staff was unprofessional. Online reviews like this can be incredibly damaging. Each month, over 150 people were viewing the profile for which you could find this embarrassing review. This 150 people is a mixture of potential patients and existing patients both of which can be easily convinced to go elsewhere for care.
To make matters worse, this review was just one over nearly a dozen similar reviews that all indicated how horrible the office experience was at this healthcare office. At this point, burying these reviews will be difficult. The negative patient experience has caused long-term damage to the marketing of this healthcare office that will be very, very difficult to repair. Don’t put yourself in the same position.
How do we fix it?
For each practice, the steps are a bit different. Start by analyzing your office experience. Ask for feedback from patients and listen to the feedback they are already giving you. Invest in creating a consistent experience at every touchpoint between your practice and your patients.
Most importantly, make sure that what you are marketing is what you are providing. Don’t have a spa-like website if that isn’t the type of care you provide. Make sure that your website and marketing materials match closely with the experience patients will have at the office, and make it personalized.