To reinforce the importance of brand reputation to dental practices and their bottom line, DentistryIQ recently quoted Richard Branson, who said, “Your brand name is only as good as your reputation.” Manage it correctly and, as Dental Economics pointed out, practices drive new patient growth and more revenue. Neglect it and, in a competitive dental market, revenue can suffer while competing dental practices draw in prospective patients because they are attending to reputation management.
It’s really that simple. What often isn’t simple is sifting through countless online sources to find the essentials in brand reputation management. So, here they are in three steps.
Before you begin, please understand something important that other dental practices may not know.
Online patient reviews are certainly central to brand reputation. Yet, before you begin cultivating those reviews, completing a few things beforehand helps ensure you get the positive reviews you want and avoid negative ones.
Step 1: Preparation
- Make sure your practice website is updated and optimized for mobile devices.
First online impressions directly impact your dental practice’s bottom line, and you only have seconds to make a good impression. A recent study by Northumbria University, for example, shows that people form opinions about businesses in seconds based on how their website looks. So, make sure your practice website has the same impression as competing websites.
Make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices. Your dental website may look good on a laptop, yet mobile devices generate about half of all website traffic globally. Visiting your practice website regularly on different devices helps ensure you’re making a good first impression on prospective patients wherever they consume information.
- Use Facebook polls to get a better understanding of your audience
Show current and potential patients that you care and value their feedback by using polls to actively engage with your audience. By showing people that you care about catering to their needs and listening to their feedback, you ultimately build trust and engagement for your dental practice.
- Send out patient surveys.
A patient survey about your dental practice enables you to identify areas for improvement before an unhappy patient leaves a negative online review or comment. This includes asking patients about your practice website: how it looks to them, how easy it is for patients to use, etc. (For more info, read our blog – Use These 3 Tips to Create Effective Dental Surveys.)
The underlying objective of any survey is to let patients know you’re committed to creating the best patient experience possible.
Once you feel your practice has addressed areas of patient concern and your website is fully modernized for an optimal patient experience, you’re ready to move to the next step.
Step 2: Cultivating Patient Reviews
Online reviews, testimonials, and other forms of impartial social proof provide trust for prospective patients and answer why they should choose your dental practice.
To facilitate this, there are two basic approaches:
- Ask patients in person before they leave an appointment. This gives you the opportunity to alleviate any issues or concerns before a patient gets home and leaves what could be a negative online review. Inversely, if a patient says everything went great, this is an opportunity to ask that patient to leave an online review reflecting their experience.
- Send patients a post-appointment email. Ask them how their appointment went and invite them to leave a review on your practice website or Facebook page. Include a link to where they should leave a review or simplify the process and make it easier for patients to follow through with a dental appointment reminder solution that makes it simple for patients to give feedback.
Third-party review sites like Yelp and Healthgrades are excellent review sites to which you can steer patient feedback. Neutral third-party sites lend strong credibility to reviews.
Review requests should never be a demand but rather a favor asked of patients.
If you happen to receive a negative comment, it’s not the end of the world. Indeed, it’s an opportunity. For how, read our blog – 5 Tips When Responding to Online Reviews of Your Dental Practice.
A few overall rules when responding to negative online reviews:
- Respond. Even if you need 24 hours to cool down, respond in a timely manner.
- Empathize. You don’t need to go over the top, but showing a bit of empathy (e.g., “I understand how that would be frustrating”) goes a long way toward showing current and prospective patients that you care about the patient experience.
- Be authentic. Be real and honest with what happened. At the end of the day, patients simply want to be heard, and despite however they may deliver their thoughts, their feedback can identify important areas of improvement for your dental practice that other patients have noticed but haven’t mentioned online.
Step 3: Track Mention of Your Dental Practice
Many patients are happy to provide positive online reviews. Yet if they don’t send those reviews to your practice, you may not know about them. Brand reputation management involves knowing when and where people mention your dental practice, whether on a social media page or website.
Signing up for Google Alerts is a free service that sends you notifications every time your pre-defined keywords (e.g., your practice name) are mentioned online. Visit the Google Support page to get started.
By following the above three steps, you help ensure your brand name is as good as your reputation to drive new patient growth and increased revenue, and yes. It involves time, which many practices understandably do not have.
For this reason, practices trust ProSites for brand reputation management.
Click here and see why more dental practices trust ProSites with their online reputation management.