This article originally appeared in the January/2020 issue of the Academy of General Dentistry’s AGD Impact magazine.
Chances are if you have been utilizing online patient reviews as part of your marketing strategy, you might get a not so flattering one every now and then. Everyone does. The question however, is how will this affect your practice and what can you do about them.
It’s true that online reviews matter more now than ever. A local consumer survey by Bright Local, a marketing agency for local businesses, found that 91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84% of people these opinions as much as their friend’s recommendations. What’s more, medical and health care reviews are the third most read reviews by 35-54 year olds, and second most read reviews by those 55 and older. If this is your target audience, you should be paying attention. What’s important to keep in mind though is that sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook all treat reviews differently. Let’s look at why this should matter to you.
Are all review sites created equal?
Review sites operate quite differently from each other. While Yelp is better known for restaurants or other local services, some dentists do have listings on the site. Patients might not necessarily go to Yelp looking for a dentist, but when they do a search in their area for one the Yelp pages usually show up at the top because they are well optimized with keywords that people usually search for.
While Yelp pages are prominent in searches, however, a study by software CRM firm Womply has shown that Google reviews have become more important than Yelp or Facebook. One reason is that people trust Google reviews more than Yelp. For example, Yelp doesn’t want you to ask your patients for reviews because they think forced reviews mean they aren’t as authentic. Furthermore, they have an algorithm that decides which reviews will get shown. With so many variables that go into how a review shows up on the page, it leaves you to wonder if people are getting an accurate picture of the practice.
You are better off focusing effort on getting patients to leave reviews on Google and Facebook. Both sites don’t mind that you ask people to leave them, in fact they encourage it by making it easy to do so. As soon as a patient leaves a review, it’s loaded on to the platform.
How To Reverse Negative Impact of a Bad Review
While you may not get many of them, a bad review is not something to ignore. Your review management process should include regular monitoring of the platforms so you can react to a not so good review as soon as it comes in. Think of it as an opportunity to show people that you really care about your patients. What’s more, the feedback may help you improve a process or highlight a problem you weren’t even aware of.
The first step to responding to a negative review is by thanking the person for leaving their feedback and acknowledging that you take their opinion seriously. Focus on solving the problem until it is resolved. Our advice is never to be combative or argue online. Even if the review is false. The goal is to show other onlookers that you care and tried to resolve the problem.
Also, put effort into getting as many reviews as you can. If there is a poor review here and there among many good ones, they aren’t trusted as much.
As more and more people rely on online reviews to help them choose a dental practice it’s important to manage the process of not only getting them but monitoring your patient reviews. The expectation is not that you have perfect reviews, but that when a poor one does show up you react to it thoughtfully.