Do you know what your patients are saying about you?
Do you know what your patients are saying about you behind your back? Do you know that your patients are talking about you online, leaving comments and feedback on how you and your staff are doing their job?
- 90% of customers prefer word of mouth to any other form of marketing for information on services.
- 70% of Australian consumers trust online reviews.
In the past few years, the term ‘reputation management’ has evolved, but it doesn’t refer to what you publish online. Reputation management is de?ned as overseeing the online reviews about a company or professional. Online reviews are patient testimonials about you or your practice, posted on Google+, Local, Yelp!, and other review sites.
Are you aware that the new patients you are trying so hard to attract are reading these reviews? 49% of consumers state that they are more likely to visit a business after reading a positive online review.
Quite simply, you need to be watching and listening to what your patients are saying about you online.
What is an online reputation?
This can be de?ned as the way you are perceived by a random Internet user. It’s what they read about you online, what they write about you online, and what they share about you online.
85% of your patients will leave you for what they perceive is a lack of patient service.41 With Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging; patients can instantly say bad things about your practice. All it takes to earn a patient’s disapproval is a lack of common courtesy or inattention to detail.
Remember – potential patients read online reviews.
According to research, over two-thirds of Australians read online reviews before making a purchasing decision.42 90% of people believe testimonials from people they know, while 70% believe reviews from people they don’t know. Studies also show that people are twelve times more likely to believe online reviews that have been provided by businesses.
Patients who participate in online conversations usually make a decision during their interaction, and ultimately spend more on a service or product, feeling that they’ve made an informed decision. How can a dentist avoid negative online reviews? That’s the big question. The answer is you probably can’t, so you need reputation management.
Reputation management for dentists
Many review sites allow a business to respond publicly to reviews. This is always a good idea. In the case of positive reviews, respond with a brief statement of appreciation. For negative reviews, respond with compassion and concern. Invite the reviewer to call the practice and speak with you personally. Mention that patient service is very important to you, and that you would appreciate hearing the reviewer’s story. Do not get involved in a tit-for-tat. Do not defend your actions. Instead, respond only with kind words and empathy.
What your patients think about you is important but what they share further dictates practice success. You need to ensure that you are kept updated of any mention of you or your business on Yahoo, Google, or Bing. To do this, set up a Google alert for your name, practice name, and associates’ names. You will then receive an email every time Google indexes the word or words you identi?ed when setting up the alert.
To set up your Google alerts, go to http://www.google.com.au/ alerts.
If you run across a negative review, decide what you’ll do to counteract it and then take action.
Proactive online reputation management
From a practicing dentist’s point of view, it makes sense to be proactive in protecting and managing your online reputation. A growing number of patients are inclined to check out a dentist’s background online before a ?rst visit. The ?rst challenge for a dentist is to ensure that ratings and review websites maintain the latest information about the practice. Dentists need to know which websites their practice is listed on and provide relevant updates as they happen.
Take smart steps to build and protect their professional reputation online.
Carolyn Dean is the author of ‘Fully booked – Dental marketing secrets for a full appointment book’ and is the managing director at My Dental Marketing. Carolyn is a widely known seminar speaker and dental marketing consultant working with over twenty-five years’ experience in sales and marketing, working with some of the largest global IT organisations.