Traditionally, medical and dental practitioners have relied on word of mouth publicity instead of direct advertisements. However, with the proliferation of websites such as Yelp, Google+ etc, healthcare industry in general, and, dentists in particular, face a unique challenge.
For example, words of mouth publicity now has immense reach thanks to review sites and social media. Bearing in mind that well over two-third of dental patients rely on online reviews, the importance of online reputation management for dentists becomes readily apparent.
Why should dentists guard their online reputation?
Services provided by dentists differ from other commercial enterprises in important ways. Dental services are not only marked by their high financial impact, but they directly impact an individual’s quality of life. Dental patients are more sensitive to quality of service as they are emotionally invested in the process from the very start, and expect a high standard of care. Further, most commercial services can get a second opportunity to rectify a defect in service. However, the same is not the case with dentists.
It is also true that even if an overwhelming majority of your patients are satisfied with your service, a small minuscule section of disgruntled patients can drown out your good work. This is simply a truism that people are more vocal when they want to complain. This attitude gets amplified online, creating an appearance that most of your patients are not happy with your work. This is a perception risk that can be effectively countered by not only engaging dissatisfied customers, but also encouraging the majority of satisfied customers to share their experiences.
Besides the above, a professionally crafted online reputation strategy further benefits you through increased online traffic and business. For example, algorithm changes made by Google means that user generated reviews, ratings, testimonials are displayed in a preferential order, with the highest count featuring at the top. An active online reputation management strategy works efficiently to ensure that your happy patients keep your reviews and ratings where it rightfully belongs.
Tips to further leverage online reviews
1) Use testimonials strategically: The positive reviews you generate should not be left languishing on the review sites. Integrate them on your website and other print marketing materials. If you practice has been positively commented upon by an influential blogger or an accredited media house, you should actively seek out their permission to use their logo.
2) Position positive reviews as your unique strengths: Your patients are similar to outside consultants who see things, positive or negative, about your practice that you yourself are very likely to miss. In their positive reviews, patients are likely to mention aspects of your service that you might have overlooked. You should scout for such reviews, and use these insights strategically.
3) Use negative reviews as case studies: There will be occasional negative reviews regardless of how immaculate your overall work and service is. You will simply have to accept this fact. However, there is something more you can do with such cases, ensuring that there is no systemic repeat of the same. The best way is to engage such dissatisfied customers, create a case study, and take their recommendations and help while setting up measures to prevent its repeat. Such an exercise in itself can be used as promotional content.