I recently heard a statistic that the COVID-19 quarantine forced five years of digital advancement to happen in three months! Although I can't imagine how one would calculate those numbers, I have personally experienced its effect in dentistry with Zoom team meetings and the increase of dental offices promoting virtual dental consults.
As we continue to evolve and become more reliant on the internet, growing your business through online communication is becoming increasingly more productive and important. I work with dental offices to improve their digital relationships and communication through newsletters, reviews, social media, and Pinterest. When I ask dentists to give me three areas they need help with to improve their growth strategy, "reviews" are always on the list.
Most offices I work with have made attempts in the past to increase their reviews, but the focus gets lost and forgotten about in the busyness of running a dental practice, managing a team, and treating patients. I believe implementing systems to consistently and continuously increase online reviews and engage team members will set your business up for long-term success.
Here are five steps you can take right now to increase your number of online reviews.
My favorite kind of instigation is passive.
Inspired by Smiirl's real-time Facebook counter, I have started using a similar method to advertise our practice's current review count and "challenge" our patients to help us increase that number. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for access to my editable Canva template.
Again, this is passive. As with most things in life, the easier the better.
Programs that confirm your upcoming patient appointments, send recall reminders, and follow up after appointments make leaving reviews and feedback easier for the patient. Easier is the key word here -- for you and the patient.
If you aren't currently using a system and would like to discuss why I think this is a great idea for any office, connect with me and let's talk.
Find a way to make it a game and incentivize your team to help increase your positive online reviews.
There is plenty of good potential in your team. You just need to find a way to engage them. Different rewards motivate different people, so hopefully you know your team well enough to identify what would work well for them. If you don't, I would ask them for ideas -- and you might want to read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
By the way, rewarding patients to leave reviews is not allowed by many online platforms, and they can suspend your account or remove your reviews if you're found to be doing this. Don't do it!
Set goals, start small, and acknowledge when you achieve them.
Celebrate weekly by sharing the reviews that are coming in. Post them somewhere your team can read them and make it part of your morning meeting or share through group text. Everyone should be involved and see that their effort is noticed and appreciated. If you set up a "game" as suggested above, celebrate when you hit your goal. Don't forget to pay up!
Remember, consistency is important and accountability is key! To achieve consistency, someone must be accountable. Assign review tracking and sharing to one of your team members. Set up clear expectations of how often you want the review count checked and how the reviews should be shared with the team.
Show your appreciation for those who do take time to leave you a great review. Respond to the review and thank the reviewer.
If you want to go the extra mile, create a graphic of the review and share it to your social media accounts. This sends a message to current patients that you really appreciate reviews, and it extends the reach of the review to potential new patients.
Also, put a sticky note in the chart or flag your online chart notes to personally thank the patient the next time he or she is in the office.
Online reviews have the potential to help you reach more patients. I believe you will find that setting up a system to keep you consistent in acquiring and monitoring the reviews is time well spent.
Katie Hess is a dental hygienist who has written the All The Dental Things blog since 2011. She currently works virtually with dental offices to improve their communication and relationships with patients and team members through social media, newsletters, and reviews.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.