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online reviews

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Meeting the Needs of the Millennials in Your Dental Practice

by Naomi Cooper May 3, 2017

It’s as though the marketing world has become obsessed with the Millennial generation, often writing and speaking dental marketing to millennialsabout the group as though it is comprised of a bunch of aliens or foreign entities.

It’s puzzling, really, because while they’ve grown up in a digital era that none of the older generations can even fathom, when it comes down to it, Millennials are really no different than any other consumers – or dental patients.

This younger generation is still looking for the same inherent qualities in a dentist that older patients look for – a doctor who can provide world-class care. It is true, however, that they are more comfortable with technology, so if you are looking to reach Millennial patients, here are a few ways to do so:

  • Incorporate real time text messaging capabilities at your front desk to make communicating with the office as simple as possible
  • Add online appointing features to your website so patients can schedule a visit while on the go
  • Build a robust social media presence beyond Facebook as younger patients are more likely to use Instagram or Snapchat
  • Make sure you have plenty of positive testimonials on third party review sites like Yelp and Healthgrades as Millennial patients like to research the practice online before ever making that first appointment
  • Consider expanding your clinical offerings to include state-of-the-art services like CAD-CAM, laser dentistry and sleep apnea treatment in order to perform a wider variety of procedures in-house and to give a more modern and full-service impression
  • Offer free Wi-Fi throughout the office – especially in the waiting room

Just remember, all the software in the world cannot replace stellar customer service, and that is something that always appeals to patients of all ages.

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3 Modern Patient Communication Tools for Dentists

by Naomi Cooper April 11, 2016

Did you know the cost of attracting a new patient to the dental practice is five times higher than the cost of keeping an existing patient? While much of the focus of dental practice marketing is on external activities designed to bring new patients in, patient retention is equally as important for the longevity of the dental practice.

dental patient communication

Good communication goes a long way in creating loyal patients. Modern technology such as text message appointment reminders make patients’ lives easier in our always on-the-go society, and they help to simplify daily office processes for the front desk team as well.

Here are 3 tools dentists can use to boost their ongoing patient communication:

  1. Automated processes: E-communication tools like appointment reminders, custom emails, online patient portals make it easier than ever to stay in touch with patients in between office visits.
  1. Post-appointment surveys: Getting patient opinions following an appointment not only helps highlight any inefficiencies in the practice but also provides an ongoing source of positive feedback.
  1. Online Patient Reviews: Ask patients to post those positive patient comments online so that prospective patients can get a good feel of the practice before their first appointment.
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Dental Marketing: The Era of Social Proof and Social Search

by Naomi Cooper April 1, 2015

Dental Marketing: The Era of Social Proof and Social SearchDid you know that 61% of patients turn to online review sites before they select a doctor? This stunning statistic reinforces the need for dentists to stay on top of the practice’s online reputation today.

Accumulating positive information about the practice not only on the practice website but also on a variety of third-party websites across the Internet helps create an encouraging first impression when patients look to vet the practice online. This can include favorable online reviews and positive comments on social media profiles.

Social Proof

While having patient testimonials directly on the dental practice website is a good first step, collecting positive reviews on external sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades and AngiesList that come up in a Google search of the practice’s name can offer another layer of credibility and authenticity in the minds of prospective patients. This is why positive online reviews and commendts on third-party websites are sometimes referred to as “social proof”.

Social Search

In 2014 we saw a rise in the influence of social search. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest refined the search functionality within their sites, making it easy for users to search these sites as they would Google or Bing. The big difference between these social searches and the general online searches is that a patient can now see (for example) which dentist each of their friends go to or if there are any dentists their circle of friends specifically recommend – making social searches all the more valuable.

So how can dentists use social proof and social search to their marketing advantage? Encourage patients to share their positive experiences on consumer review sites. Remind patients to check in to the practice on Facebook whenever they come in for an appointment.

To learn more about online marketing strategies, click here to read my recent Inside Dentistry article – Social Media Strategies: What Dentists Need to Know

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Protect Your Practice: The Importance of Positive Online Patient Reviews

by Naomi Cooper November 12, 2012

Protect Your Practice: The Importance of Positive Online Patient ReviewsHave you Googled yourself lately? What are the results – your practice website, perhaps your blog? Somewhere in the search results will be at least one, probably several, online review sites. Online review sites allow us to get the word out about our practice while enabling patients to write reviews that help provide social proof about your practice.

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A few months back I came across a blog from The Wealthy Dentist where an Oregon dentist sued a patient after the patient left a negative review online. This is a very extreme scenario, but many dentists that I work with are hesitant to promote the online review sites because of the chance of getting a negative, or less than ideal, review from a patient.

However, when you make a concentrated effort to collect positive reviews from your satisfied patients, you are able to build up a strong base of good reviews. These “prophylactic reviews” protect you from future potential negative reviews.

Even if you’ve found a negative review about your practice, remember that by encouraging happy patients to post, you effectively quarantine and overwhelm any negative reviews. In fact, having between 10 and 20 positive reviews of your practice that are easily findable online has a protective – or prophylactic – effect by discouraging reviewers who don’t want to have to defend their own lone voice of negativity in a sea of positive feedback.

Set a goal for the practice to generate 2 positive reviews a month for a year. This will build a steady stream of positive, and authentic, comments which will help to balance anything less than perfect.

There is not a better stamp of approval of your practice than the referral of a happy patient. Make the most of their positive experience and ask them to share their experience online. By increasing the number of positive reviews online, you will be building a strong and positive online presence for your practice.

What are the search results when you Google your practice? Does your practice collect patient reviews? If not, what is holding you back from starting? Please share your opinions below.

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Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Negative Online Reviews

by Naomi Cooper August 15, 2012

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Negative Online ReviewsEstablishing a presence online for your practice is growing more important every day. It’s a smart and strategic business practice to ask your current patients to give brief testimonials on such sites as Yelp!, Google + Local, Citysearch, Dr. Oogle, and others. This allows potential patients to learn about you before they ever pick up the phone call to make that first appointment.

However, many dentists are hesitant to promote these sites out of fear of receiving a negative review, and the potential damage that could cause to their practice. Be not afraid – in the event you do happen to have an issue arise online, there are several ways of handling the situation which can actually be viewed in a positive light by other consumers who see the interaction.

We’ve all seen it before. You are on Yelp and for every 10 positive comments, there is one negative experience from a disgruntled customer. Unfortunately, this is going to happen to every one at some point. Now, you may not have any irrational patients, but some dentists do. Instead of being frightened by this scenario, view it as an opportunity for transparency between the business and the customer to work through the issue together. Of course you would never want a patient to leave your office feeling anything less than 100% satisfied.

If an unhappy patient ever leaves a less than positive review about your practice, here’s a great system for resolving the issue:

1. Respond in a timely manner. There should be at least one team member in your practice assigned to monitoring the online profiles. Ideally they will notice the less than positive review, and alert the doctor and other necessary team members to the issue in order to investigate what really went wrong.

2. Acknowledge the review publicly. This is where many dentists are most intimidated. Who wants to ever admit they are wrong? The important thing to remember here is that you do not necessarily have to admit any wrongdoing. The truth is, you may not have done anything wrong – perhaps the reviewer was just having a bad day and was feeling overly sensitive. You only need to acknowledge the fact that someone has had a less than perfect experience.

3. Respond Positively. You would never want to discredit the unhappy reviewer – but you can credit yourself! Replying with something as simple as “The team at Minoa Dentistry strives to exceed each patient’s expectations. We are sorry to hear that you had a less than perfect experience. Please call our office at (123) 456-7890 to speak directly with our office manager. We hope to have the opportunity to resolve your issue.” This illustrates your commitment to quality customer service, and provides the opportunity to address the problem with the patient. Ultimately, you may be able to avoid losing that patient all together.

Of course, the unhappy reviewer may be that one totally irrational patient. If you respond in a rational manner, and they continue with the irrational comments, then it is probably best to let that one go. However, from the point of view of a potential patient, it is actually a positive sign to see a business that cares about their customers enough to address the issue and to take the time to try and resolve the issue.

One key component to online reviews which I cannot stress enough – Transparency is absolutely paramount when it comes to online reviews. If you do receive a negative review, do not immediately ask every patient that comes in for the next week to leave positive reviews. It will be totally obvious what is going on, and it will reflect very badly upon your practice.

The best way to counteract a bad review is to build up your positive prophylactic reviews. It is better to be proactive and arm yourself ahead of time. Set a goal for the practice to generate 2 positive reviews a month for a year. This will build a steady stream of positive, and authentic, comments which will help to balance anything less than perfect.

Has your practice experienced any negative online reviews? How were you able to resolve the problem? Please share your expert advice below!