6 foolproof steps to getting great online dental patient reviews

While it's a well-known fact that online reviews can help your dental practice, getting patients to write them is another matter. But it's worth the time and effort for dental staff members to ask and encourage patients to write these reviews.

Apr 24th, 2017
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While it's a well-known fact that online reviews can help a dental practice, getting patients to write them is another matter. But it's worth the time and effort for dental staff members to ask and encourage their patients to write these reviews.

This article first appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Does your practice ask current patients for online reviews?If not, you’re damaging your reputation with potential patients. In today’s internet-savvy world, most patients won’t even call for a consultation until they’ve thoroughly researched your office online. If you don’t make a concerted effort to solicit reviews from your best patients, you leave your online reputation in the hands of whoever chooses to leave a review, and that can be dangerous.

Market researchers have found that people are more likely to leave reviews after a bad experience than after a good experience, and that people over 50 are especially likely to leave reviews after a bad experience. This means that without careful attention, the only reviews of your practice might be bad ones, even if most patients are happy with the care they receive.

To tip the balance back toward the positive, you need to take the first step. It can be a little uncomfortable to ask patients for reviews. After all, you’re asking them for a favor and it might inconvenience them, and they might even tell you no. Here are six steps you can take to make it easier to ask for and receive great online reviews from your loyal patients.

Always ask for a review while your patient is still in the office—Too many medical and dental offices mail or email requests for feedback the week after patients have been in the office. The return rates on these surveys are abysmal. Why? Because if you do your job, your patients won’t be thinking about their teeth the week after they’ve left your office. You’ve solved their problem, they’ve returned to normal life, and dentistry never crosses their mind.

You’ll get better feedback and a higher response ratio if you ask for reviews while your patients are still in the office. When you ask in person it’s harder for someone to say no. Besides, their care experience will still be fresh in their minds, and they’ll be more likely to remember the details of the procedure or which staff members were especially helpful.

Give patients their swag bag first, then ask for a review—People are more likely to say yes when they’re responding to a gift or favor. Give patients their goody bags before you ask them for a review. If you intend to give out mugs or some other gift as a thank you for leaving a review, give patients the gift first. They’ll feel more inclined to review you since they’ll want to do you a favor in return.

Target specific patients for reviews instead of asking everyone for a review—Patients are more likely to say yes to writing a review if you don’t ask everyone to review you every time they come into the office. At the beginning of each day, pick several patients on the schedule as your “reviewers” for the day.

Try to fill holes in your current online reviews. For instance, if your office uses CEREC technology and your online reviews say nothing about crowns, you may want to ask a CEREC patient to leave a review. That way people researching a specific procedure can get a feel for how your office performs. Vary the age, economic status, and gender of your reviewers. That way your online reviews will represent a good cross section of your patients.

Use a wide range of reviewing technologies—Online reviews are a must. Make sure that patients can access the platform in the office using your Wi-Fi. For patients who don’t like using a phone for reviews, you might want to provide a tablet, laptop, or computer terminal. Some of your patients may not like to type. Offer them a pen and paper. You can always photograph or scan their review for later use.

If you plan to share reviews on social media or your website, consider offering a video review option. Some patients might want to leave a video review, and video reviews also give potential patients a chance to see how your work creates great smiles. Finally, consider “postcard reviews,” where patients can send a note about their experiences to a friend or family member who’s looking for a dentist. These postcards may not reach many people, but they’ll have a strong effect on the people who receive them and can be a valuable referral method.

Ask for specific feedback based on your practice goals—If you ask for a general review you might get a star rating but no specific information. These vague reviews don’t help improve your practice and don’t give enough information to attract new patients. Ask questions that target specific areas you’d like to improve, or that recognize exemplary staff performance. For example:

What was the best part about working with Kristi?
Did Deborah do anything that made you feel especially well cared for?
What is your favorite part of our waiting room?
What steps can we take to make our patient bays more appealing?

Use a tool to coordinate online reviews across platforms—There are so many review sites and social media platforms that coordinating and publishing reviews can quickly become overwhelming. SolutionReach offers tools to help manage your relationships with patients, collect reviews, share reviews on social media, and use reviews in marketing campaigns. The service is convenient and intuitive so you can add these functions while freeing up staff time. Because the company specializes in patient relationship management, they’ve perfected systems for getting patients to give reviews that will be valuable to you and your prospective patients.

Using these tactics, Dr. Jenny Gandhi has seen the benefits of a more focused review strategy in her practice. At “Pearl. Dentistry Reimagined” in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dr. Gandhi has built her web strategy around reviews.

“We've used Google reviews to help boost our credibility,” she said. “New patients find us on Google through SEO, but it's the reviews that really put people at ease. We follow that up with an amazing patient experience, and the word-of-mouth marketing gives our two practices in Charlotte lots of momentum.”

If you want patients who are excited to see you and a practice with energy, it’s time to start focusing on reviews.


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Justin Morgan is known as "The Dental Marketing Guy." He is an SEO expert who teaches the first and only SEO course for dental professionals. In the course Justin teaches dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and front office managers about the Invisalinks Method, a proven way to raise your Google rankings, without using any technical jargon. Justin is a public speaker who teaches other marketing professionals the power of the Invisalinks Method for helping dental websites rank highly on search engines.

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