Why Are Reviews Important?
Reviews are an important part of your online presence. Not only do they help your profile pages (on Yelp, SuperPages, Google Plus Local, etc… ) rank better, they also make it more likely that a visitor will consider your services. Collecting and publishing positive reviews that demonstrate a track record of success across many patients and conditions is a long-term investment in your practice success.
Online Reviews versus Paper Reviews
As a practice owner, it is important for you to understand the difference between collecting reviews online versus collecting forms on paper in your office. The biggest difference will be how your practice performs in local search.
Local search engines use the quantity and recency of reviews on your Google, Yelp, Yahoo, and other third party pages as a signal for how ‘relevant’ you are for a specific keyword. All else equal, the practice with 15 positive online reviews in the last month is more relevant than the practice with zero online reviews.
Of course, the practice with zero online reviews, may have a binder full of 100 reviews sitting on a coffee table at their office. The problem is that no one sees those until after they make an appointment so they aren’t very useful in attracting new patinets. That same practice may then decide to post the 100 reviews on their website. This is great because it allows web visitors to see them, but again, they are visible only after someone decides to come to your website.
The challenge with paper-based reviews, is that while you can transfer them to your website, but you cannot feed them into Google, Yelp, Yahoo, etc… They need to be online in order to raise your online visibility and raise your relevance for more and more local search terms.
That is why we advise you to steer all your patients towards leaving reviews on third-party websites. After they submit their review, you can transfer the text to your website and print the page to add to your in-office binder.
We recognize that the client demographic served by our clients, is probably less tech-savvy than the average consumer. Use this to your advantage! Most of your local competitors won’t want to bother with online reviews for the same reasons you dislike them. Use that as a reason for not against asking for online reviews in your own practice.
What Should I Be Doing?
#1 Familiarize Yourself with the Process – In order to help coach patients through the process of leaving an online review, you need to understand it yourself. The best way to do this is to watch exactly how it is done. Have you ever done an exam for a family member or friend? Great! Ask that person to leave you an online review and ask if you can watch the process. Each system (Google, Yahoo, Yelp, etc… ) is a little different. Watch at least one example on each of these systems so you know what to expect.
#2 Ask – You should make asking for patient reviews a part of your business process and assign a member of your team to be responsible for gathering a specific number of reviews each month.
#3 Make it Easy – You should make it easy and convenient for patients to leave a review. For example:
- You can place a public laptop in your office with your review websites bookmarked.
- You can email patients a personal request for a review along with the direct link they need to use.
- You can provide a reviews QR code in your office. Anyone waiting in the lobby with a smartphone can scan it and leave a review.
#4 Take Photos – Ask patients if you can use their name and photo alongside their review or success story.
#5 Record Videos – Ask patients for a 90-second statement about their experience with you and your practice.
#6 Coach Patients to be Specific – Ask patients to be as specific as possible using a BEFORE and AFTER format. Ask them to address what they like most about your service or what most sets you apart from other service providers.
#7 Pay Attention – Be sure to read the new reviews you receive and respond appropriately.
#8 Respond Appropriately – Thank patients for leaving a review the next time you see them. Some practices offer a small gift such as a chocolate bar as a thank you. Others send a free Thank You eCard. If you receive any negative reviews, respond to them by posting a public “Response from the Owner”.