People seeking a dentist now have a number of ways of researching dentists before they choose one. They can go to your website, they can check review sites like Yelp or Angie’s List, or they can ask their friends on Facebook. And so what are they doing? Very often, it’s all three.
Of course, none of these resources can tell them much about your clinical skills. But people don’t really have a way of discerning that anyway. They can’t pull your charts and check out your margins, or see how many crowns you’ve had to redo, or inspect the accuracy of your implant placement. So they are drawing conclusions from information that should often be suspect, but what other choice do they have?
When someone calls 1-800-DENTIST and we recommend a specific practice, the operator can often hear the patient clicking away and looking up the practice online, doing a Google or Yelp search. Sometimes they may even say, “Hey, one of these reviews isn’t so good.” (Fortunately, our operators can view those reviews at the same time, so they are not caught by surprise, and can point out the positive reviews.)
Even when someone is referred by a friend, many times the person will now look at the practice’s website before going, and expect to see comprehensive information. And know this: they are making judgments about the quality of your dentistry based on how modern and detailed your website is. They are also likely to read some reviews on Google and search for the practice’s Facebook page to read patients’ comments.
So be up front. Put your reviews on your website. (Not testimonials. Those have almost zero credibility at this point in the Internet age.) In fact, put Yelp reviews right there too, if your website can do that. Why let them leave your website to see ads for other dentists on Yelp? Show them you are willing to put up unvarnished reviews, the good and the not-so-good, for them to examine and draw their own conclusions from. If your website won’t do this easily, it’s probably time to check out WebDirector.
Encourage your patients to post on Facebook. This will only become more important when Facebook launches Graph Search. [Now launched as of July 2013.-Fred]
Monitor your online reviews, and always comment on them. Patients love that, and see you as engaged and concerned.
It’s no longer good enough to be a good dentist. People want to find out what the experience is of being at your practice. Make sure that wherever they go, they can find what they’re looking for.
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