What's the difference between an online review and a referral?

Wouldn't it be great if our best patients didn't just tell a few friends and family members about our practice but told a few hundred, or maybe even a few thousand?

Kevin Burniston

Wouldn't it be great if our best patients didn't just tell a few friends and family members about our practice but told a few hundred, or maybe even a few thousand? My favorite patients are those who get referred from other good patients-there's something magical about patients who have a great experience and tell their friends about the practice. When those friends show up for their first appointment, they already have a connection with our practice and are expecting a great experience.

A great way to help our patients tell more of their friends and family about us is through social media and online reviews. Social media has become a source for product and company referrals where endorsements are made with "likes." The first step in getting patients to talk about us on social media is having a presence. It's hard for patients to like you on Facebook if you don't have a page. The same goes for all other social media outlets. If you aren't there, they can't endorse you.

What if I get a negative review or comment posted online? Negative reviews aren't always bad. At the end of every visit, ask your patients about their experience. If it was positive, ask if they would share that information online. Let them know you'd love to have more patients like them and that sharing their experience online will help you attract those patients. The more patients posting positive experiences, the less impact any potential negative reviews can have. The reality is if a business or product doesn't have a single bad review, many people will question if the reviews are real.

The trick to turning a negative review into a positive review is addressing the concern as quickly and publicly as possible. Social media gives you the chance to apologize publicly and offer to make it right. Let's say a patient complains online that he had to wait 40 minutes to be seen. Rather than being defensive or asking the patient to take down the post, address it in a way that lets all potential patients know you care: "I'm so sorry you had to wait so long for your appointment. We pride ourselves on running on time and providing the best possible care for each of our patients. Providing best possible care sometimes means we have to take more time than expected to make sure a patient is restored to full health. We respect your time and promise to provide you and your family with the best possible care in the future."

Even after a patient refers us to a friend, there's a good chance that potential patient will google us. The person could be looking us up for our phone number or to take a quick look at our website to see if we'd be a good fit. When that potential patient googles us, one of the first things the person will see is our reviews. What do your reviews say about you? For help with social media and online reviews, go to www.henryscheinbusinesssolutions.com.

At Henry Schein we believe in improving the lives of those we touch. We focus on practice care so dental professionals can focus on patient care.


During his 10 years with Henry Schein, Kevin Burniston has had the opportunity to meet with more than 1,000 dentists. Each one has unique hopes, dreams, and concerns about his or her practice and family. Kevin's goal is to help each dentist reach those dreams. Contact him at (800) 372-4346 or kevin.burniston@henryschein.com. Learn more at www.HenryScheinBusiness Solutions.com .

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