I’ve written about the value of online reviews from an SEO standpoint, and how that will help increase your new patient flow. But the second aspect is equally valuable: patient feedback.
I recently showed a dentist friend of mine how to use the Patient Activator mobile app, and one of the features is it allows you to see reviews from your patients. He was surprised to see a comment that a patient made about him touching her head during treatment. He does this almost reflexively to relax patients. He told me no one has ever complained about this in 20 years.
That last point is the hidden value of online reviews—valuable feedback that a patient would normally not give you face to face. Information that will tell you why patients left, why they didn’t accept treatment, how they feel about the dentists and the team members. This is all incredibly useful, however painful it may be to hear.
My friend contacted the patient in question (who, by the way, insists on hugging my friend at the beginning an end of each appointment, and will even wait outside an operatory until he can come out and do so—further proof that dental patients are crrrraaaazy!) and they resolved the issue. And now he is more conscious of people’s reactions.
We know that the search engines, i.e., Google, Bing and Yahoo, like reviews. A lot. They like them on their own websites, and they like to find them elsewhere. A steady stream of reviews increases your relevance as a search result. This means that when people are searching for a dentist, they can discover what people think about you and the experience of being in your practice.
This of course leads to more new patients. Those patients may also find you by directly going to review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and NationalDentalReviews.org. And very often, if they don’t find any reviews for you, they will simply move on and look at another practice. And, if your reviews are not recent, they will also put that in the negative column. Remember that even word-of-mouth patients are often checking your reviews (and their friend’s recommendations!) along with your website before deciding to see you. It’s a new world.
But this second value of candid patient critique is often overlooked. And it also wasn’t previously available to you. When a patient left unsatisfied or disgruntled, most likely you just never heard from them again. Now, if you’re lucky, they write a review. “Lucky?” you say. “They’re ruining my reputation!” Not really, not if you follow my strategy for dealing with negative online reviews.
Besides, wouldn’t you want to know if everyone thinks the your front desk person is a witch? Or that you always seem to be running late?
Let’s face it–you’re not perfect. Why not find out what you’re doing wrong, or what you could be better at? If several patients comment that you are only interested in making money, then it seems pretty clear that you are not creating value for your dentistry in the patient’s mind before you hit them with the cost.
I know it’s painful to hear negative feedback. Nobody likes it. But the wise person swallows their pride and reflects on what is being said. Think of the value of hearing comments like this:
“I found a dentist with much newer technology.”
“Their hours were just too inconvenient for my schedule. I found someone with early morning appointments.”
“The dentist recommended one treatment, but then the hygienist told me it wasn’t necessary. Too confusing!”
“They fixed my crown and then they told me how much it was going to cost. It was way more than I expected!”
Couldn’t you learn from each one of these comments? As much as I believe reviews are of ever-increasing value when attracting new patients, I think the feedback is of equal or even greater value.
The rule of thumb is that for every complaint you hear, there are at least ten people who won’t speak up but feel the same way.
This is one more reason why you need a systematic process of eliciting reviews from your patients. It is much easier if you have PatientActivator, DemandForce, or Revenue Well, those applications that work within your PMS. They automatically survey your patients and bring back a steady stream of reviews that you can learn from, and you can control where they post. (As opposed to Yelp reviews, for example, which are beyond your control.) And if you are using a program like PatientActivator, then you are giving the patient a chance to send you comments before they go out and do it somewhere else online.
I recently created a video explaining how PatientActivator works. Take 3 minutes and check it out here!
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