By Alexi Venneri
On the neighbourhood app NextDoor, someone in my neighbourhood recently asked the group if anyone knew a good dentist. She was taking the first step in what’s now called “the customer journey,” through which she will make a purchase, meaning she will choose a dentist. Several neighbours chimed in with recommendations. So what is the logical next step for this person?
She’ll visit some of the recommended dentist’s websites, and then she’ll probably consult Yelp, Angie’s List, or Google “top 10 dentists,” or “best dentists near me” in the city where she lives.
As a dental practitioner, you’re probably not sitting around checking how you’re perceived on all those sites. But here is an actual review of a dentist on Yelp:
“Told me they took my insurance and that they were in the network. Got my work done and then three months later these guys send me a bill because they don’t accept my insurance after all. Also, they skimped on the Novocain.”
Here’s another review: “Dr. XXX and his team are simply the best. Top notch service. Each aspect of this office is amazing and I no longer dread going to the dentist. I highly recommend this dental practice.”
It’s obvious who my neighbour will choose—the one with the best online reputation.
Here are some quick tips that can help you monitor and manage your online reputation:
• First, have a plan. Designate someone in your office to be on top of social media and review sites at least weekly. Search for your business like a consumer would and see what you find, including searching on multiple search engines and social networks on both your desktop and mobile device. Set a Google Alert for mentions of your practice name and your name, to make sure you don’t miss anything.
• If you’ve assigned the job to someone, have a social media policy with clear guidelines of what’s appropriate to post and what isn’t. Give that person some help. There are several tools such as Hootsuite that make posting easier and faster and can help you monitor your online reputation.
• Make sure your Facebook page is up to date and that you answer your messages and pay attention to your emoticons. Facebook has now made it possible to register an emotion about posts, and a couple of those emotions are negative. Those must be monitored and the negative posts should be answered quickly. Negative opinions fester.
• Address negative comments quickly with a polite and apologetic response, even if the complaint is unfounded. Don’t get involved in a he said/she said online, but offer to call or email the unhappy patient to discuss and resolve any issues. Also, be familiar with a review site’s terms and conditions (T’s & C’s). Oftentimes bad reviews violate the T’s & C’s and can be removed by contacting the review site.
• Make it easy for happy patients to share their feedback. At Digital Air Strike, we help clients survey their patients, and with a few taps, share positive feedback on top review sites. You should also have a Yelp check-in offer at your practice. Yelp reviews from patients who’ve checked in have a better chance of “sticking.” Take constructive feedback as an opportunity to fix any issues with your business as that will result in better experiences for customers going forward, which will lessen future negative reviews. New technology can help you survey your patients and make it easy for the happy ones to leave public reviews.
• Spend time and energy creating a positive reputation on major social media sites by posting regularly. Organic reach is incredibly low, but by using social ads you can target them to reach the customers you want for an extremely low cost compared to traditional advertising. Cheryl Yole from Tipton Orthodontics uses social ads to reach new patients. “We get a lot of leads from Facebook,” she said. “We have access to their emails and can send additional emails and coupons. I feel it gives us more opportunity to get in front of potential customers.”
Reputation is a competitive advantage and insurance for any advertising you’re doing. It’s a full-time job to stay up-to-date on the online platforms that can affect the reputation of a dental practice. But it is an important job that must be done.