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Avoid these common risks to secure good online reviews and develop a good online reputation
Would you let your competition do your marketing for you? Or allow a disgruntled patient to promote your practice? No, of course not! Yet if you’re not in control of your online reputation, that’s exactly what might be happening.
Online reputation management isn’t just for celebrities and large corporations. A dentist’s online reputation is absolutely crucial, especially when you consider that 92 percent of consumers read online reviews when looking for a local business. Online reputation management is a big business these days, and outsourcing it can end up costing big bucks. Luckily, there are a few simple tactics you can employ to stay out in front of your brand’s online presence. Any dentist can easily protect his or her reputation - and that of the practice - by avoiding these all-too-common risks:
Risk #1: Not collecting enough prophylactic reviews
Every dentist fears a negative review. It can be tough to read an unhappy patient’s experience, and that unease is compounded by the fact that an online review has the potential to be seen by hundreds of local patients online.
The best way to combat negative reviews is to consistently work to build a trove of positive endorsements. Each day, every member of the dental team who interacts with patients should choose one patient on the schedule and encourage him or her to post a positive review. Your repository of positive reviews will be a bulwark against any online negativity; a steady flow of upbeat testimonials being posted over a long period of time will serve as a common-sense counterpoint to the critical comments that might otherwise devastate your online rep.
Risk #2: Forgetting to regularly monitor and respond when needed
Perhaps the only thing more anxiety-producing than a negative online review is the idea of publicly responding to that dissatisfied patient. However, sometimes ignoring the negativity can make the situation worse.
A member of the dental team (ideally anyone besides the doctor) should be put in charge of checking in on each online profile on a regular basis to monitor for questions and concerns.
And if an issue should arise, acknowledge the comment (without apologizing or becoming defensive) and kindly and politely provide contact information to the patient so that the matter can be resolved offline. This demonstrates to the disgruntled patient that you’re willing to help fix the problem, but perhaps more importantly it shows other prospective patients (who may be reading the reviews in search of a new dentist) that you’re willing to go the extra mile in order to keep your patients happy.
Risk #3: Failing to claim all online profiles
It’s impossible to monitor for negative reviews if you’re not aware of the sites where your practice is listed. Conducting an online audit can be as simple as Googling the practice name and the doctor’s name to see what pops up on the first page of search engine results. There may very well be websites where the dental practice unknowingly has a listing or user reviews, without the dentist (or anyone on the dental team) even being aware.
There are an infinite number of websites that publish business listings and patient reviews, but the most widely used by patients and prospective patients are: Google, Facebook, Yelp and Healthgrades. Be sure that, at the very least, each of these listings is kept updated with current contact information, business hours, links to your practice website and photos, if possible. Doing so will put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to your online presence.
Risk #4: Failing to brand the practice properly online
While you may understand that “Joe Richards, DDS” is the same office as “Richards Family Dentistry,” search engines will not make the connection, and it’s almost guaranteed that prospective patients won’t either. So what’s a dentist to do?
Be sure to use the same practice name consistently, both online and offline. Letterhead, signage and brochures should all use the same name as the website, social media and online business listings. Additionally, the same branding elements - logo, taglines and color schemes - should be used across all marketing platforms so that search engines and prospective patients alike will easily recognize the practice.
Richard Branson famously said, “Your brand name is only as good as your reputation.” As a dentist, you work incredibly hard every day to provide top-notch oral healthcare for your patients; that commitment needs to shine through to your practice’s online presence as well. Build trust for your brand among patients who don’t know you yet by ensuring that their online experience of your practice’s brand is as remarkable as the in-office experience your team provides once they choose to become your patient.