Online reviews are everywhere. It seems you cannot search for any service or product without finding out how scores of other consumers felt about their experiences. With such an abundance of reviews, however, do they really matter? Well, let’s face it. How often do you personally check out the reviews of a new restaurant before making a reservation? Or how many movies do you go see without reading what the critics have to say? I’m betting that you rely on reviews quite a bit. As a dental coach, I can help you use online reviews to increase your practice marketability.
Let’s Look at the Numbers
As the statistics show, online reviews can make an enormous difference in your practice growth – or decline. According to a 2013 Neilson Global Marketing Study, 68% of respondents said they trust online reviews. Another study from Dimensional Research found that 90% of consumers are influenced by positive reviews, and 86% are influenced by negative reviews.
In addition, online reviews have enormous influence on SEO. In fact, according to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, reviews have a 10.3% impact on search engine algorithms.
Ok, so you can see the importance of online reviews, but what are you supposed to do about it? After all, there are always going to be disgruntled patients who find something to complain about, even if you provided effective service. Fortunately, good review management can combat some of these negative reviews and help to promote your practice.
Unless you have a full time marketing associate at your office, you probably don’t have time to monitor the web for poor reviews. Fortunately, there are a number of reviews management services available for purchase. You can also sign up for Google Alerts, which automatically notifies you when new content goes online.
Handling Negative Reviews
When a negative review pops up, the best thing you can do is respond to it. Examine it from an objective standpoint. If the critic has a legitimate complaint, acknowledge it, apologize, and promise better service in the future. At the same time, however, don’t offer free services or discounts. This can come across as bribery and ultimately damage your practice’s reputation.
Remember, not all reviews are real! According to the Harvard Business School, up to 20% of all online reviews are fake (up from 5% in 2006). While the majority of fraudulent reviews are positive, some companies hire writers to smear their competition. If you suspect that a negative review is a scam, contact the site’s webmaster to see if you can have the comments deleted.
Building a Positive Online Presence
While dealing with negative reviews is important, perhaps the best thing you can do is to encourage positive reviews. Unfortunately, human nature is such that we are more likely to complain than we are to praise. While a few of your patients may be willing to go online and write a glowing review, even the most loyal patients may never think of doing so.
To get positive reviews, you may have to ask for them! This may seem awkward at first, but many patients will be happy to write a review when you tell them how much you value their feedback. If this doesn’t work, remember, everyone loves a contest. Consider a giveaway drawing for patients who post a review on a particular website.
When a handful of patients have the power to influence your future business growth, online reviews can be daunting. However, when you know how to use reviews to your advantage, they can have tremendous benefits for your practice’s future.