It’s a wired world, which can be both a blessing and a curse for dental practices. The blessing is that there are more ways than ever before to communicate with and attract new patients. The curse is that there are more ways for unhappy patients and prospects to air their grievances in public. The vast majority of your prospects will check one or more review sites before making a decision about choosing your practice. Your online reputation is a make-or-break aspect of your marketing. When we come back, I’ll tell you how to handle bad online reviews. Stay tuned.
– I’m Colin Receveur, CEO of SmartBox.
– Thanks for watching the Patient Attraction Podcast™.
– There was a time when the only bad publicity dentists had to fear was the word-of-mouth grapevine, and maybe a letter to the editor in a newspaper.
– Those were real and serious concerns in small markets, but much less so in larger ones.
– Today, though, every person with an internet connection has a soapbox that can potentially reach every one of your prospects.
– Reputation management for dentists is a very hot topic these days and for good reason.
– According to some estimates, over 90 percent of people now read online reviews.
– And another source says that people trust online reviews just as much as they trust word-of-mouth recommendations.
– So online reviews are today’s word of mouth, but with a much broader reach than was ever possible before.
– Dentists really need to pay attention to the reviews of their practice on Yelp, Google Reviews, Healthgrades, and other well-known review sites.
– There are 2 aspects of online reviews that matter to your practice – the reviews themselves, and the star rating given by the reviewer.
– Patients and prospects who complain online about you or your practice run the gamut from reasonable to ridiculous.
– Reasonable complaints often center on scheduling issues, financial issues, and quality of care.
– Unreasonable complaints might include relatively minor things such as the comfort of your dental chairs or the type of floss your hygienists use.
– But every complaint needs to be taken seriously, because a handful of negative reviews can have profound consequences for your practice.
– To borrow a phrase, it doesn’t take much poison to poison a well.
– Every negative review is a potential “forget it” from your prospects.
– But the second aspect of reviews – the star rating system – is just as important.
– If you have hundreds of 5-star ratings, a few very low ratings won’t move your overall score much.
– But if you have only 1 or 2 dozen ratings, a few 1-star ratings can drop your score significantly.
– And everything else being equal, prospects will choose the dental practice with ratings in the high 4 stars over practices in the low 4 or even high 3 stars.
– The star rating is the most important factor that influences your prospects’ decisions.
– It’s a quick and easy snapshot of your practice, and often it’s the first thing prospects look at online.
– Now, preventing online complaints is clearly the best strategy.
– Having clear, written policies in place and shared with every new patient helps set expectations.
– Ideally, any patient dissatisfaction would be dealt with before a patient ever walks out your door.
– But many people won’t complain on the spot, so you have to be ready when those complaints surface online.
– One of the worst things you can do is ignore complaints, because those complaints then become unanswered public indictments of your practice.
– You should already be engaging the people who comment on your practice online.
– You have to engage the people who make negative comments as well.
– You’re generally safe repeating your commitment to patient satisfaction and inviting the complainer to contact you directly offline.
– It’s vital to avoid any indication that you are arguing with or attacking the reviewer.
– Once the conversation has moved offline, you can address the issue to the extent allowed by your state laws.
– And hopefully, you’ll reach a resolution.
– However, as a last resort (or maybe a first resort, depending), the Consumer Review Fairness Act does allow you to prohibit or remove certain reviews.