By Jack Hadley
Each year, BrightLocal publishes a Local Consumer Review Survey* that helps shed light on how online reviews affect the growth of small businesses. This year, a few statistics are of particular interest for endodontic practices working to build their online presence:
- 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 49% of consumers seek at least a 4-star rating before they’ll choose a business
- Nearly 7 out of 10 consumers will write a review for a local business if asked
As an endodontist, perhaps you’ve thought that reviews don’t matter as much for you as they do for general dentists. Actually, quite the opposite!
About two years ago, I met Dr. Angela Noguera when I lectured at The College of Diplomates of the American Board of Endodontics Summer Conference in Braselton, Georgia. What a delightful person and respected endodontist! About a year later, I visited with her again at an event in Washington D.C. where she practices.
She was very excited about the progress she had made in her social media marketing, AND in her efforts to build her practice through reviews. I asked her if she would be willing to do a video interview with me on Facebook to share her insights and experiences with other endodontists on the subject of getting reviews. She kindly agreed.
Here are three short, one-minute excerpts from the interview I did with Dr. Noguera:
When we look at the marketing tools inside an endodontist’s marketing toolbox, we typically don’t find “advertising” like we may find in a general dentist’s toolbox. You’ll rarely see an advertisement that says, “Come on down and get 50% off your next root canal!” An endodontist’s options for building his or her business online are much narrower. Yet, more and more people search for endodontic services online.
Even when patients receive referrals from their general dentists to endodontists, they pull out their smartphones and do their own research. Having great reviews on Facebook, Google, Yelp and Healthgrades is a critical component of standing out, and garnering what we call “social proof.”
Now more than ever, endodontic practices need positive reviews—and, they need to be current. Research suggests that many consumers consider reviews that are older than three months no longer relevant. Also, it’s so important to have enough great reviews to offset the occasional bad review. People are actually quite accepting of a few bad reviews if there are lots and lots of good reviews. Even 3-star Michelin restaurants get an occasional bad review—but they have tons of great reviews to offset them.
So, here are three things you can do today.
- Make it Easy for People to Read and Write Reviews About You
Start by creating profiles on the four most prominent online review services listed above. Add your profile photo(s), address, hours, and other information that will make it easy for prospective patients to find you, and for existing patients to leave a review.
- Focus on Those Patients Most Likely to Give You a Great Review
One of the quickest ways to burn out in your reviews effort is to say to your team, “OK everyone, we need to get out there today and ask for lots of reviews!” Instead, set your team up for success by pulling up your schedule and reviewing who’s coming in. Identify one or two patients you suspect may be willing to leave you a review. Then, ask them to do it right then and there during their visit. And don’t forget those “golden moments” that Dr. Noguera and I talked about with emergency patients. There are tools that make this easy to do, and you’re welcome to email me to learn more about those.
- Just Kindly Ask and Be Transparent
Smile, and let patients know how much you rely on reviews to improve your service and grow your business. Remember, if you’re not asking for reviews, chances are you’ll only get one when a patient is unhappy!
These three things are the tip of the iceberg, but implementing them with your team is a great place to start!
As the number of people regularly using online reviews continues to increase, you’ll find that a strong presence on the biggest review platforms is an invaluable part of growing your reputation, growing your business, and strengthening relationships with both patients and referring dentists.
Jack Hadley teaches social media marketing to MBA students at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management in Provo, Utah. He is a founding partner at My Social Practice™, an agency providing social media marketing content, strategy, and support to dental, orthodontic, and dental specialty practices worldwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.