Reviews are one of the most important parts of running a medical practice. They’re the new “word of mouth”. Think about what you do when you are looking for a restaurant to enjoy dinner at or are looking for any type of service. You likely go online and perform a search. If you’re like most people you’re looking for consistent 5-star reviews from real people. If you get an endorsement from your friends you are even more likely to take action and head to that restaurant or hire that plumber.
Your medical practice is no different than any other business. Reviews – good and bad – can spread like wildfire and make a huge difference in people’s perception of you. As a result, your business can either suffer or flourish because of online reviews. As you establish a flow for patients and hone both your online and in-person experience, your goal should be to get patients to leave reviews for you online.
But how do you go about getting reviews (read how dentists are getting reviews) without bothering patients? The first thing to remember is that people will leave reviews whether you ask or not. Asking for reviews simply increases the amount of reviews online, which ultimately helps to increase your ranking online and leads to giving your website a top listing on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Make Sure You Have a Profile Set Up Everywhere
Before you can ask patients for reviews you need to set up profiles where they can actually leave them. The most popular and beneficial places for profiles to be established are Google+, Facebook, and Yelp. Additional places are helpful, but remember that wherever reviews are capable of being placed you’ll need to have a tactic for reputation management. This means that you’ll have to regularly log in, read, and respond to reviews – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Reviews on sites like Facebook are particularly effective because they leverage a patient’s social network to organically spread the word about your business. When someone posts a review it becomes public knowledge and instantly shows up in that person’s friends’ newsfeed. Additionally, one of the most common medical website design practices is to draw reviews from Facebook and integrate them directly on the website. This allows people on the website to read the reviews and also works to influence them to leave reviews.
Once your profile is set up, you can begin to touch base with happy patients and try to get them to leave a review.
Ask for Reviews
You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Make it a point to train your team to ask for reviews. Don’t wait until weeks after a patient’s visit. Instead, strike while the iron is hot and encourage them to post as soon as you see that they’re happy with what they’ve received. You’ll want to ensure that your team is trained to ask in a very unintrusive manner. Additionally, asking doesn’t necessarily have to be verbal.
You can send patients follow up emails that encourage them to leave a review. You can also post signs in your office that show you’re on Facebook or Google+ and that patients can leave reviews there. This is one of the hallmarks of a cohesive medical marketing strategy because it integrates both the online world and offline world and maximizes your efficacy and reach.
Make It Easy
Your patients are busy. They’re running between work and soccer games, maybe even jet setting around the world. This means that you need to make it as easy as possible for them to leave you a review. One of the best ways to do this is to integrate a review platform into website design for medical practices. This system sits directly on your website and allows patients to leave reviews without having to log into a separate website like Facebook or Google. Additionally, you can give patients the opportunity to submit their reviews anonymously.
Another option is to email a list of happy patients with direct links to your Facebook and Google+ pages. This means that they do not have to take the time to search for you practice’s listing and can instead link straight to it and leave their review.
It’s important to be able to distinguish between incentivizing and purchasing reviews. Purchasing reviews is incredibly unethical and website like Google and Facebook will delete your entire profile if they discover you’re paying for reviews. Additionally, by paying for reviews you’re violating your patients’ trust and projecting an image that is less than desirable.
Incentivizing is different. When you incentivize reviews you’re taking a moment to offer valuable customers the opportunity to leave a review and showing your appreciation. This might be through an ambassador program that offers office swag or gift certificates for patients that earn them additional business through reviews. It’s important to be clear that this program is for all reviews, good and bad, so that it doesn’t look like you’re trying to cherry pick what is posted online.
In all businesses, but particularly in website design for healthcare professionals, it’s important to be transparent. This means that you respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a timely and genuine manner. If a patient reports that they had a negative experience it’s your job to respond to them, apologize, take responsibility, and offer resolution. Similarly, if a patient had a wonderful experience take the time to thank them and show your appreciation.
When you show that you’re transparent with patients other people reading the reviews get an idea of what you value as a practice. Additionally, both satisfied and dissatisfied patients will feel as if they’ve been heard and appreciated. Put yourselves in the shoes of a customer who just wrote a glowing review for your practice. They took the time to express their happiness and probably don’t expect much of a response. Now, imagine how they would feel when their dentist office or medical practice takes the time to actually respond.
That’s the power of online reviews. You can empower patients to feel as if they’re connected with your practice and take the time to be transparent and open with them. As people see these reviews they begin to want to be a part of your practice and your business will grow.