By Nancy Rausman
Managing Editor, EyeCarePro
July 11, 2018
Good word-of-mouth is the age-old way businesses would build a loyal following. In today’s digital world, that positive word-of-mouth comes in the form of online reviews on sites like Yelp and Google Reviews.
Part of the work my company, EyeCarePro, does is finding ways of helping practices publicize themselves online. Here’s what we’ve found works in generating more positive online reviews.
Often, reading reviews will be the last step a potential patient takes before making a final decision between you and your competition, so if you have more positive reviews, that will likely influence them to choose you. Positive reviews create trust, and trust goes a long way–people will even pay more for it. This is why having more reviews (even if there are a couple of not-great-ones mixed in) than your competition is so important. This is how the potential patient can really get insight into the experience provided in your practice.
Even if you charge more, they will be willing to pay more for a service they can trust. Just as the consumer tendency is to avoid purchasing a product with lower reviews on Amazon, for example, people will look at reviews, and choose the highly reviewed doctor, even if it costs slightly more.
Ask for It: Set Goals
The goal should be to make a request (in person or by text) to 90 percent of your patients as they leave the office (you probably don’t want to request from patients that you suspect did not have a positive experience).
An estimated 10-20 percent of these people will follow through, and leave a review. So, if you have 200 patients per month, and send, or verbally make, review requests to 90 percent, that is approximately 18-36 new online reviews per month. This may be difficult for some practices, and should, in those cases, be a goal to build up to.
The number of reviews to strive for also depends on the size and nature of your practice–how many reviews it currently generates and your practice’s penetration in the local market. You want to have more reviews than the local competition. All things are relative. If the competition has 50 reviews per month, and your practice has 10, then the immediate goal is to beat 50.
Lastly, the patient base is an important factor. Since the younger generations are much more apt to write and use reviews, practices with a younger patient base should strive for more, whereas practices with a patient base that averages age 40 and over, may need to lower the bar on how many online reviews it is realistic to work toward.
Automated Communication Systems Make It Easy
The first rule of getting reviews is to encourage patients to leave a review immediately after their appointment, otherwise the likelihood of them doing so will significantly decrease as time goes on. Further, you want to make it as easy as possible. These are things automated patient communication systems can help you with.
Sending a link by text, or e-mail, to the patient makes the process of leaving a review quick and easy. The easier you make it, the more likely the patient will be to do it. A patient is not likely to search online to find your practice and leave a review. Providing a direct link greatly increases the chances they review you, and it shows another level of service to the patient, as you are making another process easy for them.
Another thing to look for in a patient communication system is the ability to direct patients specifically to Google Reviews. Ideally, you want all reviews to be written on Google, where they will have the biggest impact.
EyeCarPro has a new app for clients that leads patients to leave the review on Google, rather than spreading the reviews out to a number of review sites–most of which are not as relevant or effective as Google.
Here’s how our app works: We (EyeCarePro) send the practice a link to the app, along with a personalized code. On any given computer, or smartphone, you can click the link and fill in the code to set it up (this takes about 30 seconds). You can set it up on as many computers as you want. At the end of a patient appointment, as part of discharge paperwork, you simply make the request to the patient, and on the spot, you open the app, enter the cell phone number and send a link to the review page via a text message through the app. It’s one step for the practice and the patient.
In addition to our app, there are many automated patient communication systems, such as Solutionreach and Demandforce, for you to choose from. Whichever system you choose, it’s essential that you make it as easy as possible for the patient to fill out the review, and that it’s posted to Google Reviews.
Automated patient communication services are typically $50-$200 a monthly. The EyeCarePro app is free for our clients.
Make Asking for Reviews Part of Your Work Flow
Asking for reviews must become part of the office workflow. Statistically, unhappy customers are more likely to leave reviews than those who had a good experience, so any time you finish with a happy patient, it’s worth mentioning a review. All staff should be instructed to do the same. It’s a team effort.
You may also just want to make it the job of the last person in the office who sees the person. A simple script is useful, for example:. “Did you have a good experience today? That’s great! I’m going to send you a text with a link. Please, if you don’t mind, leave us a nice review on Google.” You can also add something about how it would be a great way to help the practice.
Monitor Reviews that Are Posted
If someone in your practice is the owner of your practice’s Google My Business account, they will receive an e-mail every time a review is written. For other review sites, set a designated person in the office and designated times (at least weekly, but preferably more) to check review sites and respond to reviews. This should be a non-negotiable slot in the schedule.
You should respond to each review as soon as possible, either to say thank you for the positive reviews, or generally address negative ones (which is a whole other article).
Nancy Rausman is managing editor at EyeCarePro, which provides ECPs with educational content that helps them advance their practices through technology, management strategies and digital marketing. EyeCarePro is one of the leading providers of online marketing and practice improvement services in the industry. EyeCarePro serves both industry and practices and is the only company of its kind solely focused on the optometric space. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org