By Keshav Bhat, OD
April 12, 2017
It’s not enough to respond well to negative online reviews–you must proactively generate the kind of public online feedback you can be proud of.
Boosting online reviews means boosting visits to your office, as potential patients see positive feedback from current patients, encouraging them to give your practice a try, too.
I recently wrote in ROB about managing negative reviews, and as a follow-up, I want to highlight our approach to garnering positive online messages from our patients.
Everyday, patients search online to discover what is good, bad, and sometimes ugly, about your practice. There are studies that show that over 80 percent of consumers research online reviews. While it’s important to monitor these reviews to improve and grow your practice, and manage your online reputation, there’s another hidden advantage that is just as valuable – to boost your web site rankings.
Before describing our strategy in my office, it’s important to make sure you understand the key steps of the process of managing online reviews:
Claim your listing. Google pulls information from online directories to create listings. Therefore, your practice may already exist in Google Places. Start by searching on Google Places by your telephone number, and then claim your listing(s) if you haven’t already.
All you need for this is a Google account (sign up for a free Gmail account if you don’t already have one). Delete any duplicate listings, as this may harm your rankings, and do not use the same phone number for multiple locations.
Complete your listing. After you claim your Google Places account, you’ll want to fill out your profile as completely as possible. That includes adding a link to your web site and a description of your practice.
Manage reviews. Unlike some review sites, Google actually allows you to respond to reviews by Google users. Use this opportunity to demonstrate your customer service skills by promptly responding to negative reviews to show patients you are listening.
After completing the above steps, ask: How can you generate more positive patient reviews, and reap the benefits of better visibility?
Collaborate with Your Employees
Your staff are on the front lines in encouraging patients to review your practice. It’s imperative that they understand the benefits and importance of generating online reviews, especially if they, personally, are mentioned in the review process. Our team members never fail to greet patients as they walk through the door. Even as we are walking with another patient, my team members greet patients walking through the door with a warm “Welcome! One of us will be with you shortly.”
Use Office Signage to Encourage Reviews
Signs are a great way to remind people to review your practice. You can print your own signs that say something like “We want to know what you think,” or, “Find us on Google or Facebook.” These simple reminders go a long way toward generating more reviews. We like to leave these signs by our contact lens stations, and where eyeglasses are delivered.
Ask Patients Yourself
Get comfortable asking patients for feedback, and to review your practice online.
When entering the exam lane (after the initial work-up is completed by Sue), after I introduce myself, I always ask: “How well did Sue take care of you today?” This too generates a positive response from most patients.
As the exam comes to a close, and I have asked if they have any further questions, and they say “No,” I launch into my request for an online review.
Remember, the person who has the most intimate relationship with your patient is the person who is going to get the highest response rate. As their eyecare provider, you will get a higher response rate than the person working the front desk. I strongly encourage you to make the review request, rather than just tasking your front office staff with that task. You will see much better results.
How you ask for the review:
a) Ask your patient if they will do you a favor and write a review for you.
b) Tell them how long it will take to write a review – just a few minutes
c) Tell them how your practice benefits from their review. – help us, a small business, grow in the community.
d) Tell them what to expect – You are going to send them an e-mail with a link to where they can write their review
e) Front desk must get their primary e-mail address and let them know that you will not share it with anyone.
e) Let them know you’re looking forward to reading their comments.
Here is how I put it:
“May I ask you a favor, please?
Later today, or tonight, when you get home, would you mind taking a few minutes to write a review about us? When you do that, it helps others who are looking for an optometrist learn about our practice.
We’ll send you an automated e-mail with a link in it leading to where you can write a review, and I promise, I won’t share your e-mail with anyone. Is that OK?
Thank you, I’m really looking forward to reading your comments.”
Just as the patient is checking out, our team members always ask, “How did we do?” Or: “How was your visit today?” These are just two examples of leading questions that can inspire a patient to review your practice as they are exiting from your office.
Respond to Your Reviewers
Responding to reviews can help you build a relationship with patients. It shows that you care enough about the reviews, and reviewers, your patients, to respond, and it also gives you a chance to make a special connection with the reviewer. A response can be as simple as “Thank you for taking the time to share your positive experience with us, we enjoyed seeing you.”
By responding to reviews, you are showing that you are committed to excellent customer service, and that you care for your patient’s experience when they visit your office.
How do you generate reviews? And how do you increase the chances those reviews will be positive?