A recent study by Google showed that 30% of prospective patients searched for a new practice directly on a review website. That is a substantial base of patients to tap into and why online reputation management is so important to include in your marketing efforts.
Think back to the last time you needed to spend money on an important product but you had a few options from which to choose. Did you quickly decide on the very first product you saw? Not likely. You probably you took the time to go online and see which product or service received the best reviews to date.
That same scenario is one that plays out for dental practices every day. Just like any other business, your practice is being evaluated and reported on regularly by your patients. Properly monitoring your practice’s online reputation helps you and your patients in a few distinct ways:
1. Establishing Your Brand – If you visit review websites, chances are you've seen at least one business whose page was inundated with negative reviews. Now, while there may be plenty of valid reasons for someone to leave a negative review, there are also plenty of unrelated issues that could affect their experience and affect their review as a result. For example, a patient could have a great visit to your practice where everything went right – until they dealt with their insurance company. That patient may include that little detail in an otherwise glowing review and have that shape other people’s opinions of your practice.
You can try to get ahead of situations like this by staying involved in your online reputation management. By responding to a patient's complaint about their insurance company, and maybe providing a helpful resource or two, you could end with a positive win. Studies have shown that around 65% of patients prefer to see a doctor respond to a negative review, so don’t be afraid to respond in a timely manner!
By responding to negative reviews, you will establish yourself as a practice that listens carefully to constructive criticism and does its best to remedy any issues that spring up. You also are able to better shape the perception and credibility of your practice, without any added polarity or divisiveness in your reviews.
2. Boosting Your Marketing – While many things have changed in marketing over the years, at least one thing still holds true – a business lives and dies by its reputation.
The most popular search engines heavily factor reviews into their SEO algorithms. For instance, a recent study conducted by Google measured the effect of reviews on the click-through rates of over 6,200 participants. Of those businesses involved in the study, those with an overall positive rating got far more clicks and visits to their sites, and those with an overall negative rating received less. “Star ratings” had a large impact on click-through rates, as well, with a 25% increase in clicks for businesses with five-star ratings. Even businesses with no rating whatsoever received more clicks than those with a negative rating.
A great deal of your new patients will base their decision to schedule an appointment with you in the first place solely on those reviews. So, be sure that the first they see is a page full of positive reviews.
3. Improving Your Practice – Even a few negative reviews can benefit your practice in ways you might not expect. People interacting with a negative review are more likely to spend additional time on your website and do a little exploring. This is the perfect opportunity for you to engage them and give them an incentive to schedule an appointment.
Negative reviews also provide you and your team much-needed metrics to measure patient satisfaction and make improvements to your practice. You may not know that a particular staff member comes off as unfriendly or that your pricing on teeth cleaning is higher than a competing practice until a patient tells you.
By monitoring your practice’s online reputation carefully, you can also improve your practice in the following ways:
- Combating any sort of negative review bias on your site
- Boosting the number of positive reviews overall
- Improving your practice’s search rankings and the likelihood that your practice appears in the Google “3-Pack” at the top of a patient’s search results
- Boosting your patient acquisition and retention rates in general
It can take years of quality and compassionate dental care to build up a good reputation for your practice – and all it can take is one bad review to ruin that. As long as you are giving your online reputation the attention it deserves and making sure no critique goes unanswered, you will stay one step ahead of the competition and maintain a loyal base of patients for the foreseeable future!
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