By Dr. Greg Grillo
When we were kids, we learned to be cautious about trusting strangers. But in the digital world, strangers provide instant verification to most of our decisions. They help us know where to eat, what to buy, and where to go for healthcare. The credibility given to online reviews underscores how much the world has changed. Reviews meet a psychological need by offering “social proof,” which helps us navigate the endless choices we face. If you search for “Bluetooth speaker” on Amazon, over 5000 options show up. No wonder we’ve evolved to rely on others to share their experience, even when we don’t know them. “Near me” searches skyrocketed OVER 200% in the past couple of years, and these searches serve up a list of choices that consumers sift through. TOO MANY CHOICES leave many people confused and even depressed. Reviews provide an instant sorting filter to help us reach a decision faster and with more validation. As clinicians, we sometimes forget that prospective patients treat the decision-making process like other purchases. In some ways, reviews carry more weight for healthcare than retail. New running shoes with free returns require less risk than choosing a new dentist. Or we might visit a museum with average reviews because it sounds interesting. Healthcare doesn’t get so much wiggle room. We’re in the high-trust business. About ONE-THIRD OF PEOPLE CHECK ONLINE REVIEWS as the first move when choosing providers, even before talking to family and friends. Positive reviews become our advocates that help encourage new patient visits. In a complex mix of psychological and technological wonderment, patient reviews:
- Carry local SEO weight on Google.
- Differentiate us from our competitors.
- Give us authority through the voice of others.
Here are seven ways to get more patient reviews and develop a social proof strategy that helps with improving your online presence, and ultimately growing your practice:
1.Start In The Office To Secure A Better Doctor Rating
Real people leave reviews, and that’s one reason they impact others. We can design cohesive marketing campaigns and patient-centric content, and we should. But our patients will tell the story that reveals the integrity of our message. We know what makes a difference in our practices: a warm welcome at the front desk, on-time appointments, and overall positive patient experiences help them feel cared for. And don’t miss the touchpoints before and after treatment visits. A better doctor rating or glowing practice review reflects how a satisfied patient feels when they leave our office. Give patients plenty to smile, talk, and write about with cohesive experiences.
2. Pay Attention To Your Google Business Profile
Your Google profile includes the essential information people want to know, including your physical address, practice website, and photos. We need to make sure this data center reflects accurate and valuable insight into our healthcare practice. Dozens of other online listings need to display the same information, too. Google’s search algorithm holds many mysteries, but we know it considers a volume of quality reviews for local businesses. If the profile listing is accurate and you gather a stream of steady reviews, you’re more likely to rise to the top of search results for providers in your area.
3. Prioritize Asking Patients For Reviews
People generally enjoy being asked for their opinion, and a review request subtly shows that you value their viewpoint. We often assume patients will stop and review their visit, but it rarely happens. Life becomes busy, and the social proof opportunity slips away. Start by asking happy patients for reviews as part of their check-out visit. A link that takes them directly to the review site simplifies the process and leads to a dramatic uptick in reviews. Better yet, use an automated text and email notice that delivers as soon as they leave the office. Since 77% OF PEOPLE DON’T TRUST REVIEWS OLDER THAN ONE MONTH , an automated process keeps reviews fresh.
4. Respond To Reviews For More Impact
Consider it good practice to respond to reviews with HIPAA-compliant answers, and don’t sweat a few bad reviews from unhappy patients. A measured response can boost your credibility; 45% OF PEOPLE say they’re more likely to visit a business if they see responses to negative reviews. And 95% OF DISGRUNTLED CUSTOMERS will return to a business if it quickly takes care of the problem. Responses show you’re engaged and interested in what people have to share. And Google pays attention, too. Remember that mysterious algorithm? Responses play a part in the weight assigned to your listing, which helps more people find you first.
5. Add Asking Power To Existing Tools
We use numerous communication tools throughout the month, and many of them can carry more than one message. For example, if you hand out a physical appointment card, consider placing a review request on the bottom or back. You can do the same with newsletters or emails and include a clickable link. Adding an incentive to gather more reviews can help the process, but it takes more management. Some practices enter all reviewers into a monthly or quarterly drawing, or send out a promotional mailing that asks for reviews in exchange for a larger giveaway. A little imagination can help add motivation and fun to your healthcare reputation management.
6. Take To The Airways
It’s no secret that the average person spends 145 MINUTES DAILY ON SOCIAL MEDIA . Most businesses know they need a presence; innovators leverage social platforms, especially Facebook and Instagram. Regular posting keeps our brand in front of our communities and sets the stage for specific messages. Consider posts that ask patients for reviews, and include a link that takes them directly to the right place. Better yet, record a short video (or ask a willing staff member to do so), and let people know how much you appreciate their feedback. Videos on social media average 48% MORE VIEWS than regular posts and give patients a dynamic way to engage with our brand.
7. Keep A Steady Eye On Patient Reviews
There’s no shortage of data, metrics, and analytics churning out of our practice management software. But gauging insight into what patients think and feel provides a different challenge. It’s helpful to check our practice reviews periodically on Google and Facebook, respond, and draw conclusions from what we see. Fortune 500 companies use sophisticated analysis of consumer feedback for meaningful insights. Patient Relationship Software reports generate unique experience-based data that give us the kind of control we need. Surveys, thank you gift cards, and centralized review monitoring are advanced techniques that drive practice growth through social proof.
How To Get Patients To Write Reviews? Deliver, Ask, And Track
We can’t control everything patients say when they leave our offices. But high-touch care with no-touch digital tools encourages patients to tell a positive story about us in all the right places. If you want to craft a patient experience worthy of 5-star reviews, check out our webinar on this topic. Discover how you can encourage more raving reviews that provide the social proof prospective patients look for when making decisions about their health.