In this modern age of dentistry, you are a business owner that offers the service of dentistry. Statistics show that as many as 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, you are subject to the same applause and objections as the hamburger joint down the street.
Here are some time-tested tactics for managing your online reputation-the good, the bad and the ugly.
Step 1: Claim your business
Whether you love it or hate it, google is captain of the search game—so you better know the rules and play by them. When your patient searches for you and finds an unclaimed google listing, it really doesn’t matter that you graduated top of your dental class or how high tech your office is—you will look outdated. It’s a simple matter to claim your business. If you need help, here’s a quick guide. While google is the main player, be sure to claim your business on sites like Yelp and LinkedIn too.
Step 2: Start asking for reviews
Even if you just opened your dental chair for business, it is easy to build your online standing—and most patients are eager to help. Everyday you receive some type of compliment. Simply wait for the kind remark and ask the patient to please leave a review to help you grow your online reputation. You can have the patients leave a review from their smart phone while they are in the chair. Additionally, there are myriad software companies marketing to dentists. At our dental practice, we use YAPI for patient management and they have recently added a review feature for a nominal fee. In addition to on demand reviews, it will automatically interface with your dental software and contact the patient after an appointment to solicit feedback.
Be sure to make it part of your office standard operating procedure. It isn’t only the dentist that should focus on reviews. In the same way that your hygiene department offers oral cancer screenings, your team should be actively soliciting reviews—their job may depend on it. As mentioned in Step 2, it’s easy to ask for a review in the chair or at the front desk when given a compliment. And, it should be second nature.
Step 3: Don’t be afraid of your negative review(s)
If you’ve recently received a less than flattering review, take heart, it isn’t the end of the world. Remember, you must act and not “react”. This is definitely the time to take a “less is more” approach. While you must respond to the review, you are still under legal obligation to protect your patient’s privacy. Respond with compassion and offer an invitation to discuss the matter in person. It is ok to site HIPAA and leave your office number as a reminder of the best way to reach you. This signals a level head to anyone that comes across the online analysis.
If you do receive a negative review, kill it with kindness. Generally people are more apt to leave a negative review versus a positive one. After all, people are busy and expect everything to go well. When you receive a bad review (and you eventually will), remind your team to double down on asking happy patients to leave their feedback. In your morning huddle, ask each team member to identify three patients they will ask to leave a review. Although well meaning, your employees will get busy as the day goes--help them be intentional.
Without fail, we all want to take great care of our patients but remember there are cell phones recording and keyboard warriors everywhere waiting to document even the smallest perceived slight. As we navigate dentistry in the 21st century, don’t fear the World Wide Web, have a strategy to mold your online reputation to correspond with your real world character.