About a year ago, I started to read about online marketing, including website search engine optimization (SEO), paid Google Ads, and reputation management. After spending four months reading about the importance of managing your online reviews, and chatting with sales representatives from the major reputation management firms (Podium, BirdEye, Five-Star Reviews, and others), I signed on with the company that I liked best.
For those who don’t know the specifics of reputation management platforms, I’ll describe them here. Reputation management firms charge a monthly fee, and in exchange you use their software platforms to send review requests to your patients. The beauty of their products is in their simplicity. They make sending review requests simple while making the process of leaving reviews seamless for your patients.
When you send a review request, you can do so by email or text message from any computer. Typically, patients will open the message and have the ability to click a button, which activates a feedback screen or prompt where they can leave a review in less than a minute. The goal of these platforms is simple—to minimize the number of steps patients must take to leave a review.
Using these reputation management applications, you can increase the rate at which you accumulate reviews associated with your Google My Business listing, as well as on other sites such as Facebook and RateMDs. When you send a request, you can include clickable buttons for any review site you prefer so that your patients can choose where they’d like to post their feedback. Once patients click one of the buttons, they can leave a rating/review quickly and post it directly to the site of their choice. Many patients tell me they were able to leave a review in under 30 seconds and that the process was seamless and simple.
Now that we’ve gone through the basics of review management apps or platforms, I’ll share three reasons why reputation management is important. Not all of the reasons relate directly to marketing value or getting new patients. I’ll start with one of the less intuitive reasons for adopting a reputation management campaign and then I’ll outline the value of these campaigns for acquiring new patients.
A reputation management campaign helps you raise your “game”
At my office, we try very hard. As you know, running a dental practice takes more than just providing great clinical care. I’m sure you work very hard to deliver exemplary care to your patients and that your staff delivers many of the little extras that patients love. I thought we were doing a great job at my office and then I started a reputation management campaign.
Things changed. I began to really scrutinize the way I delivered treatment and the way I communicated with patients. I thought about little things that would make my patients feel even more comfortable at our office. Elevating patients in the chair to my level (or above) during treatment discussions, asking frequently about their comfort during procedures, and increasing the number of postoperative care emails are just a few of the simple changes I made. Thinking about what would make patients leave gleaming reviews got me constantly thinking about how to provide them with truly remarkable experiences. Now that’s real quality control!
Building a bulletproof reputation is exciting and rewarding
I ask about 10 patients each day for online feedback. It’s become routine throughout my day, and I do it in a way that’s not awkward. The key is to ask patients if you can send a request and diffuse awkwardness by letting them know it’s OK for them to leave negative and constructive feedback. I tell patients that I’m not looking for a gleaming review but rather something I can learn from. It’s not good to ask for a positive review. Doing what I’m suggesting is different. I promise you it won’t feel awkward.
When you spend the minute amount of effort required to quarterback your reputation management campaign, you’ll get 10 times the reviews and thus, a greater return on investment. (Note: This estimate is based on a success rate in my office of about 5% when patients received a generic review request after their appointment compared to a 56% success rate when I asked them personally for a review and sent a personalized request.)
Now when reviews start rolling in each day, they’ll provide you with a great intrinsic reward. I didn’t anticipate the wonderful feeling as I read the reviews. They have a rejuvenating effect. We all know how emotionally and psychologically taxing dentistry can be on the best of days. Games that offer distinct scoring systems and rewards tend to be our favorites. Effort is directly correlated with reward. Reputation management campaigns are like that. They’ll add excitement to your days as you build a more robust online reputation.
Well-run reputation management campaigns drive new-patient growth
People care about online reputations. Consider that the BrightLocal 2017 Consumer Review Survey showed that 97% of consumers use online reviews to choose local businesses. The same survey reported that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family or friends.1
Now, it’s no secret that many dentists spend money on SEO for their website and Google Ads so that they can be found on the first page of Google search results. The first page is certainly prime real estate for getting noticed by potential patients. Now, what if your practice is seen on page 1 but your Google review score and other online ratings are low or negative? Many dentists are wasting the gains they’ve made through SEO and paid ads by not paying attention to their online reputations.
One dentist in my city pays over $300 per month for a paid first-page placement on RateMDs, and his listing shows a 3 out of 5 rating. I would argue that there is little to no ROI on this investment given the low overall rating. Be sure to pay attention to what’s being written about you online, but also consider asking the occasional patient for an online review.
I would encourage every dentist who’s interested in new-patient flow to look at the small cost of securing the help of a reputation management firm. Even if your practice is not listed prominently in Google search results, those who received a word-of-mouth referral will look for you and your reviews online. Whether you’re found through a Google search or by somebody who’s been referred to you, you’ll want them to read about a robust reputation as a reliable local dentist.
If you have any questions about my journey through reputation management, please reach out by email and I’d be happy to chat with you.
1. BrightLocal 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey. BrightLocal. January 2017. Accessed March 5, 2019. https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey-2017/
KYLE RODERICK HORNBY, DDS, BSc, graduated from the Schulich School of Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario in 2012. He operates the Kitchener Dental Office in downtown Kitchener, Canada. He enjoys reading current research relevant to online marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and reputation management. Contact Dr. Hornby at (519) 576-8160 or [email protected].