June 4th, 2018

Why Your Practice Needs Dental Patient Reviews

When last we spoke, we determined that every dentist wants reviews from their patients (and I told you how to get them). We also know that a bad one can ruin your day. Nobody wants a rotten review on their wall.

Generally speaking, everybody wants (good) reviews. So let’s take a step back and figure out why everyone is hopping on the Review Train.

Hint: It’s not because Google and Facebook say you have to have them (but they do).

So why are dental patient reviews important to your office?

The real reason that Google and Facebook say that reviews are critical is simply because people are actively searching for them online. While they may not be critical to every purchase, review opportunities always seem to present themselves.

Think about it like this: Before you go to your hardware store, do you look for reviews? Probably not. You need to buy a hammer; you buy a hammer.

But what if your hammer-buying experience is terrible?

  • Hammers are out of stock
  • The hammer associate is rude
  • You get pressured to buy that bespoke 23 oz. milled-face Framing Hammer with the hand-crafted American Hickory handle

Maybe then you’ll pound the computer keys out of frustration and compose a strongly-worded email to corporate. But when it comes down to it, reviews didn’t directly affect this transaction. You trust that your goal of buying a hammer can be accomplished by going to the hardware store and giving them some money.

But the Google Review Train rolls on because their job (aside from turning zeros and ones into money) is to give people what they want. If people didn’t care about reviews, Google wouldn’t put them at the top of your Google-My-Business listing. People ask Google for information and if you don’t provide Google with what they want, they’ll show someone who does.

Facebook values sharing. Sharing your experience, your thoughts, your everything!  {If I see one more post about what my old college roommate had for dinner I’m unfriending him.}  They’ve even made it easy to ask your friends for their recommendations. Why? Because reviews and recommendations on your page mean more eyeballs for an extended period of time and for Facebook, every eyeball is an opportunity for ad revenue.

Inspiring trust & providing value

Obviously, buying a hammer is a pretty simple purchasing decision, but by the same token, if you move to a new area, you can still trust that the local hardware store is going to sell you a hammer.

But dentistry is different. How can you trust that the first dentist you come across {Sorry Dr. Aaron Aaronson!} is going to treat you with respect and care? You can’t.

Reviews can not only benefit your potential patients but they can be an asset to you, as well. They can give great insight like:

  • What are other people saying about you and your practice?
  • Do they love your hygienists?
  • Do you greet every patient by name?
  • Are they made to feel welcome?
  • Have they ever been pleasantly surprised by their visit?
  • Have you given them a reason to endorse you?

Consistency is key

Your reviews need to remain consistent. Why? Well, if you were looking at the reviews for a restaurant and they suddenly stopped in August of 2016, what would be your first thought? Are they closed or does everyone just hate them now? An organic flow of new dental patient reviews simply says “Hey, we’re OPEN! Also, people value us enough to talk about us! These people think we’re awesome and you will, too!”

How to respond to negative patient reviews

Occasionally, even the best dentists will get a sub-par review. It happens. It’s possible that the patient was having a bad day, or maybe they had more pain (or a higher bill) than they expected. It could also be that they have a legitimate gripe against you, one of your staff, or your front office. In any case, it’s not the end of the world. Bad days, bad reviews, and bad people happen.

The important thing is that you get in front of it. If you did something wrong, own it and take the conversation offline. Rectify the errors and peacefully resolve the situation. Whatever you do, don’t fight fire with fire. Imagine looking at a restaurant review and seeing the chef respond to a bad review criticizing the guest. Would you be more or less prone to frequent such an establishment?

Take a minute and put yourself in the patient’s situation. Remember that your response to the review is something that prospective patients will see, too! Even if you and your staff did everything right, sometimes simply saying, “We’re sorry” goes a long way. Something along the lines of:

“We’re sorry that you didn’t have a great experience. We do our best to try to make every visit exceptional, and we’re sorry that yours wasn’t. We appreciate your feedback, and we’ll use it to try to do better.”

A less-than-positive review can humanize your practice. Most people recognize that nobody’s perfect, and won’t be any less prone to call upon you with a less-than-perfect score. While it’s important to strive for perfection, not achieving it every time doesn’t mean you’ll be called to task on every mistake – especially if your attempts to correct your mistakes are authentic and visible.

Want to learn even more about reviews for dental practices? Check out our recent webinar: