Online Reviews, the New “Word of Mouth”

Embracing new social media platforms, such as Yelp or Google+, that allow users to leave reviews may make you feel like you’re losing control, “What if I get a bad review?” However, with a few examples of how my own practice has found success embracing and encouraging online reviews, you’ll find them essential to the modern dental practice:

Just Ask: We highly encourage our patients to share the experience they had while visiting the office. In fact, we email patient surveys that are published directly to Google+ and Yelp. It makes it easy for the patient (who might not take the time to write a review, otherwise), and it also provides my staff and me with excellent feedback. For example, I’ve found that they’re particularly impressed with our CAD/CAM system. Thanks to positive reviews of the technology we use, we’ve become known as the “cool,” high-tech office around town.

Make it Fun: In the same vein as photo booths, we provide our patients with playful signs (e.g., “I got my crown in ONE day!”) to take pictures with and then post to their social media accounts. Essentially, we’re asking our patients to do what they already love to do—take selfies. A thumbs up “like” on Facebook from a friend one day could translate into a new patient the next, especially since most people’s Facebook friends are local.

Turn a Negative into a Positive: Perhaps you’re wary of online reviews because of the dreaded one star review. I admit there’s no way to avoid the unhappy patient from time to time. However, I’m grateful to respond to a negative review because 1.) it gives me the chance to make things right, 2.) transparency on the web is highly valued and 3.) a few negative reviews in a sea of (hopefully) positive ones actually legitimize the good reviews (people become skeptical of five star review after five star review).

With the Internet at their fingertips, today’s patients can quickly get dozens, if not hundreds, of opinions on anything from buying shoes to deciding where to eat dinner, and even choosing their dentist. It’s important that you take an active role in encouraging good reviews and responding to feedback, both positive and negative. Do you have a presence on Yelp or Google+? How do you respond to user comments?

Author: Michael Kelly, D.M.D.

Dr. Kelly practices at Aesthetic Dentistry of Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz., and also serves as senior clinical instructor for Aesthetic Vision Seminars. He attended Stetson University in Florida for his undergraduate training in chemistry and then graduated from Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry in 1993. Before moving to Scottsdale in 2010, Dr. Kelly practiced in an outstanding practice in Florida for over 17 years. He is committed to being a leader in the dental profession as evidenced by his serving as president of the Central Florida Academy of General Dentistry and serving as the dental director of the Good Samaritan Dental Clinic—an all volunteer clinic for patients without ability to pay for dental care.