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The Importance of Reviews for Your Dental Practice

Why Do People Leave Reviews?

Your patients are the bread and butter of your business. They’re what give you and your staff a job to perform every day, so it makes sense you want to impress them. 

Beyond an effective recall solution that keeps your patients engaged and on schedule, what happens online outside of your practice can make a huge impact on your business.

Often, patients, clients, and customers of a business will find themselves having a positive or negative experience that inspires them to share their stories with family or friends. If their experience was significant enough to cause a reaction, they might turn to the internet to reach a wider audience.

Reviews create social proof, increase consumer trust, and give you a direct line to consumers. Reviews heavily influence buying decisions. 93% of consumers’ buying patterns are affected by online reviews.

Before online reviews, businesses thrived by word-of-mouth. If a doctor was exceedingly kind, a restaurant had prompt service, or a car salesman was known to offer a great deal, everyone in their community would find out eventually. With the prevalence of the internet and the resources to source information about businesses, online reviews have replaced organic word of mouth.

Where Can Patients Leave Reviews?

Humans are inherently drawn to want to share their stories. There are many different platforms available to share information and, most importantly, reviews. 

Some of the most frequently visited websites for businesses include:

  • Google. Google reviews make up 57.5% of all reviews worldwide. The first place a potential patient will look to find a dental practice near them is Google, and along with your contact information, the Google reviews will also be visible. Making sure your Google My Business profile is set up and accurate gives potential patients a place to find you and current patients a place to share their experiences.
  • Facebook. When potential patients want to learn more about your practice, they’ll often turn to your Facebook page for more information. Facebook has over 2.6 billion monthly active users, which means your Facebook page has the potential to gain significant visibility. Many potential patients use Facebook to search for dental practices near them, which come up as ‘recommendations.’ 
  • Yelp. Yelp, unlike Google and Facebook, was designed to be a review website. Many potential customers across hundreds of industries look to Yelp for valuable information on businesses they may be interested in. If you want to stand out, be sure to claim your dental practice on Yelp, because currently, less than half of dentists and dental practices have pages on Yelp.

What Effect Do Reviews Have on Your Dental Practice?

Your patients, and most importantly, potential patients, are influenced by both positive and negative reviews. 82% of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews, as they often believe that a near-perfect rating is not as credible. 

According to BrightLocal’s local consumer survey, 91% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 believe in and trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation. The same research also found that most consumers trust an average star rating once they have 40 or more reviews.

Having reviews also increases your practice’s visibility. Online reviews give your practice positive content that search engines like Google value highly, from a SEO standpoint. 

Reviews also improve your trustworthiness to potential patients. If your practice has many honest reviews, with good outweighing the bad, and a positive average star rating, most people seeking out a new dental practice will be swayed to give you a try. BrightLocal found that businesses with better average star ratings are significantly more likely to see views converted to traffic and sales, which can be translated to booked appointments for your practice.

Ever heard the saying, “all publicity is good publicity?” Overall, when your patients are talking about your practice, it’s a good thing. 

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

We’re all human, which means from time to time, mistakes are bound to happen. 34% of consumers say they are likely to leave a negative review after a bad experience, which can affect your average star rating.

You can increase your accountability and credibility by responding to negative reviews. Although you can’t please everybody all of the time, you can control how your practice responds to negativity.

It’s important to express gratitude and humility for positive reviews, but it’s especially essential to respond to every negative review personally. A Harvard Business Review study found that when businesses respond to reviews, their rating increases.

Here are a few tips to respond to your negative reviews positively:

  • Acknowledge and apologize. Even if you disagree with the review or believe the accusation is false, remember that the reviewer’s experience is their own. Expressing sympathy can go a long way in the mind of a patient that has had a bad experience, and, for them, feeling heard can matter a lot.
  • Be specific. Although we don’t recommend trying to prove the reviewer wrong, speaking to their primary concern shows you’re paying attention and actually reading the reviews. You can also contrast their review with what most patients usually experience. An example would be “We’re typically known for exceptional patient care and genuinely regret not living up to this expectation.”
  • Give them someone to talk to. As sweet as your response may be, rarely will an online reply resolve a bad experience completely. If you can, provide a direct phone number and name of someone that the reviewer can contact to discuss the problem. If the situation ends with a happy patient, they may even remove or modify the review.
  • Keep it short. Even as tempting as defending every point in a bad review can be, resist the urge to write a long-winded response. Avoid too much detail and try to keep the response positive to avoid upsetting the reviewer further. As a general rule, 3 to 4 sentences are typically sufficient.
Dentist talking to a patient about leaving a review

How Can I Get More Reviews?

It may seem too simple, but the reality of getting more reviews is just to ask. 70% of people will leave a review if you ask them to, so if you’ve delivered an exceptional patient experience, ask them to share their story online!

The best way to get more positive reviews is to control who and how you ask for a review. A patient that’s already in a bad mood and needs a service they aren’t overly excited for isn’t likely to give you a glowing review. However, someone that’s just been in for a cleaning and is generally a pleasant patient is a great way to get another 4-or-5-star rating.

The key to positive feedback is effective communication between you and your patients. You can also ask patients to detail their experiences at your clinic via newsletters or feedback posters inside your clinic. 

To Sum it Up…

Overall, reviews are a good thing for you and your practice. The more you get, the more information you get on how exactly your business and your staff are being perceived. Be sure to read your reviews carefully and address any problems or complaints you may receive. 

When you listen to what your patients have to say, you can elevate your reputation and, in turn, grow your patient base.