What are people saying online about your dental practice?
If you're not sure, it's time to find out. Your dental practice's online reputation can either help you win over new patients each month or it can actively repel these prospects.
Below, we'll discuss the benefits of monitoring your practice’s online reputation. Plus, we’ll provide a beginner-friendly guide to monitoring and managing your reputation.
Let’s get started.
The Importance of Dental Reputation Management
Out of all of the millions of other things you need to do every day for your dental practice, why should monitoring your online reputation be a top priority? Here are the three biggest reasons why you cannot afford to ignore your practice’s online reputation:
Your Prospective Patients are Checking
Even if you don’t actively check your practice’s online reputation, you can bet that your prospective patients will. Sure, prospective patients often ask for recommendations from friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, but they also take it upon themselves to research a dental practice before they book an appointment. This is especially true if they’re new to the area or can’t find a solid recommendation from someone else.
Where do they go to research? Google.
And what do they look for on Google? Reviews.
For peace of mind, prospective patients want to know what actual patients have to say about your practice. That’s because getting dental work isn’t fun for most people, so they want to be sure that your practice gets lots of good reviews. So, the more good reviews you have online, the better.
Reviews Drive Appointments
Reviews are the most powerful form of marketing available. People trust their peers, and opinions based on personal experience weigh more than a practice’s slick marketing. This is why it’s so important to make a good first impression with your patients during their appointment. Their 10-minute face to face time with your staff has the power to impact your reputation for years into the future.
Because your menu of services is similar to what other dental practices in your area offer, the best way to distinguish yourself is by offering amazing and personable customer service. From warm greetings to thoughtful amenities, your practice can make such an impression that your patients are prompted to leave great reviews online. And these reviews will inspire confidence in prospective patients who aren’t sure which dental practice to choose.
You Can Control the Conversation
The internet is a very social place, made even more so by social media. People get online to research but also to connect with other people. People talk about everything online, and one thing that they’ll eventually talk about is your dental practice.
And major sites like Facebook and Google encourage people to share reviews on local businesses.
Instead of ignoring reviews, you can actively look for reviews on your practice and respond to them. In this way, you’ll be participating in the conversation and also creating a more favorable impression of your practice and your team. Engaging in comments online shows that you care about your patients.
How to Manage Your Dental Practice's Online Reputation
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of monitoring your practice’s reputation online, let’s discuss how to do it. We’ll also go over ways to improve your reputation.
Make a Good First Impression
As we mentioned above, the first impression on your new patient will determine whether you get a good review, a bad review, or no review at all.
For run-of-the-mill service, most people won’t go out of their way to leave a review online. The patient’s urge to leave an online review is usually made in a response to extraordinarily good service or terribly bad service. Your goal is to offer an experience that’s so incredible that your patients will want to take five minutes to post about it.
There are two ways to make a great impression on your new dental patients:
First, before the appointment, send out an email notification that doesn’t only confirm the appointment but also sets expectations. Prepare the new patient for what to expect upon arrival. Are there special parking instructions? Do you require masks? Can your patient check in ahead of time? Go over these items so your patient isn’t frazzled or frustrated on the day of their appointment.
Second, when the patient arrives, warmly welcome them. As soon as they walk through the door, they should be greeted with eye contact and a smile (even if your reception staff is behind a mask). And as they’re escorted from reception to the treatment room, every staff member they pass should say “hello” and make eye contact with the patient.
The little things that we often overlook are what will make your patient feel most welcomed in your practice.
Here are even more tips to improve your patient’s experience during their visit.
Survey Your Patients
One of the best ways to boost your online reputation is by asking happy patients to leave a review for your practice. But how do you identify which patients are happy?
A couple of weeks after a visit, send out a survey to your patient to ask about their visit. Not everyone will respond, but those who do are much more likely to take the extra step to leave a review online.
You can also survey all of your patients. But the patients who have recently received service are the most likely to respond to your surveys because their experience is still fresh in their minds. So, make it a habit to survey new and returning patients instead of blasting your entire patient list.
When surveying, send out a quick, 5-10 questionnaire to gauge their sentiment. For those with positive sentiment, send out another email where you ask those patients if they can leave a review.
There are several places online where they can review your dental practice, including:
- Your dental practice’s website
- Your Google My Business listing
- A third-party directory, like Yelp or ZocDoc
Instead of giving patients all of these options, only recommend one. This way, you won’t overwhelm the patient with choices. Plus, you can provide detailed instructions for how the patient can leave a review on that site.
Keep in mind that even with your suggestion, people will leave reviews wherever they choose. So it’s important to monitor all of these sites regularly for any new reviews.
Build a Presence Online
Thanks to social media and review sites like Yelp, patients can talk about your dental practice whether or not you’ve actively established a presence online. But it’s so much better when you do. This way, you can take part in the conversation.
Here’s a starter pack to setting up your dental practice’s online presence:
- Create a website for your dental practice
- Claim your Google My Business listing
- Get active on social media, starting with Facebook
Set Up Google Alerts
The internet is huge and it’s ever-expanding. There’s no way to monitor all mentions of your practice’s name without help. That’s where Google Alerts comes in.
With Google Alerts, you will get notified everytime someone mentions your dental practice online.
Setting up a Google Alert is easy. Here are the steps:
Enter your practice's name. Then on the drop down menu under “Show options,” select how often you'd like to receive this alert and where you'd like it to be sent.
Use Google Alerts to stay informed so that you can respond right away to all mentions of your practice online.
Set Up Social Monitoring
Google Alerts are great for mentions of your practice on websites, but not so great for keeping up with social media mentions. For this, you need a different tool, known as a social media monitoring tool. Here are a few tools to consider:
Setting up social media monitoring is easy and straightforward.
Monitor the Top Dental Directories
There are a lot of free online listing sites for dental practices, and you need to claim your listing on most of them. This is especially true if the site allows patients to leave reviews. In addition to claiming your listing, you need to monitor these sites periodically to ensure that your information remains accurate and your reputation stays intact.
Google Alerts can help you stay updated, but don’t rely on Google Alerts alone. Here's a roundup of the top sites to monitor:
- Google My Business
- Better Business Bureau
Respond to Every Review
Monitoring reviews isn’t enough. You should also respond to each and every review you can. Prospective patients are watching. And by responding to every review, you have the chance to do the following:
- Follow up with the patient who left the review
- Show prospective patients that you care about everyone’s experience
But don’t be afraid to respond to the negative reviews, too. Prospective patients are paying even more attention to how you handle those negative reviews. A measured response can show your professionalism and your willingness to resolve issues.
You can’t stop bad reviews from happening, but you can make a huge impact by how you respond to those bad reviews.
Here’s what you need to know when responding to your online reviews:
- Respond to everyone
- Respond in a timely manner (check for and respond to reviews at least once a month)
- Be professional in your response
- Don’t take anything personally, even when it’s a personal attack
- Keep your brand in mind (your message should reflect your brand’s personality)
- Don't share private, confidential information in your responses, which may violate HIPAA
- Take a negative conversation offline as soon as possible
- Flag reviews that are abusive or non-constructive
To learn more about how to handle negative reviews on Google, check out our tips here.
Did You Know?
If you need help, we offer reputation management services for dental practices.
We handle everything you need to establish and manage your dental practice's reputation online. We can send out review requests to your patients after an appointment. We can also organize all of your reviews in one central dashboard so that you will see all of your reviews in one place instead of visiting multiple sites.