Think maintaining a decent online reputation for your dental practice is a daunting task? It’s really not. Let us help break it down for you.
There are a million and one things you can do when it comes to managing your practice’s reputation. From having friendly office staff, to providing a clean and open waiting area, to following up with patients to get feedback on their visit. The list of the potential to-do’s that a practice is bombarded with seems endless. With that in mind, we’ve decided to help you wade through the plethora of advice you get inundated with each week and point out a few rather important “big picture” reputation issues you should consider.
Excel at What You Do…
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Being good at your job is its own reward. Consider this: if every person in your practice excels at what they do, the rest (for the most part) will simply take care of itself. A nice bedside manner is still important, but from a patient’s perspective being qualified is more so.
When you excel at your job, word gets around. Those that excel are celebrated and become naturally discussed. There is very little marketing needed for the excellent, it simply lives a life of its own. So, strive to be consistently excellent at your job but know that, in reality, this is difficult to do day-in and day-out. Strive for it, but also be realistic and recognize that you just might not be excellent 100% of the time.
…and Be Nice while Doing it.
Excelling at your profession will help minimize customer complaints but so will a pleasant demeanor and a friendly and understanding attitude. While not all patients will blossom under the shine of your radiant smile, you can bet that some would wilt under a stern and stoic manner no matter how you excel. Those patients, already nervous about sitting in your chair, could certainly use a friendly face; those patients, already having a bad day, may be looking for someone to take it out on.
So, smile and at least minimize the reasons why someone would take their bad day out on you via a negative review.
Be Aware of Your Online Reputation…
Your patients are talking about you online. Do you know what they are saying? Most practices simply do not take the time to investigate what their online reputations look like. Once they start, they might see issues right away and wish they had started sooner.
Here’s a common scenario: A practice decides to search for themselves online. They soon come across a couple of the more popular review sites, right there on page one of their search. Unfortunately, their profiles that populate on these popular review sites contain some unflattering reviews about their practice or the individual doctor. Worse still, these comments may have been online for months without any response from the practice. This has allowed multiple potential patients to see a very one-sided, and negative, version of the practice.
Do you often provide business to companies with a large number of negative reviews? Even though the reviews you read are from strangers, you probably pass on those establishments and take your business elsewhere. So what is to be done?
…and Respond to it!
Had you known of a negative review right away you could have worked with that patient to resolve their issue. Engaging immediately with a dissatisfied patient often changes their opinion of you. That works with negative online reviews too! This can lead to the reviewer changing or removing the negative post. At the very least, you can post a public response that advises the way the reviewer feels they were treated is not at all how you wish to run your practice. This online response goes a long way towards influencing the next person who sees that review. If you take the time to respond professionally to criticism it shows you care and want the best for your patients.
You know how to deal with the negative reviews, so let’s get some positive feedback… online!
Implement Reputation Management Software
There has been a recent uptick in the number of dashboards and programs that can assist with the process of getting your patients to provide feedback. Many do this with simple emailed requests and then house the feedback on their own sites. Others do it so the feedback can potentially go on the highly valued review sites themselves. The latter is the preferred method as people do go to actual review sites to research your practice.
Some of these programs are complicated. Some of these programs are expensive, while others offer limited functionality. We have done research and found what we feel is the best option for dental practices. Because of our research, ProDental has partnered with MDidentity to bring this functionality to you and we strongly encourage you to think very seriously about investing in a reputation management platform. Without a clear and easy system in place for your patients to provide feedback and reviews, you are losing out on the ability to maintain and build your online reputation.
Care About the Issues that Your Patients are Complaining About!
It is very important to know what people are saying about you and understand how your patients feel about the time they spend with you. You might think you’re doing an excellent job, day-in and day-out, but then discover that this is not necessarily what your patients think.
A common example: You might feel that the video you paid a lot of money for that is running in the waiting area is highly informative and a great addition to your office. Your patients, however, may feel otherwise.
It is not uncommon for the environment of an office to be viewed from two completely different viewpoints: yours and theirs. There is an obvious disconnect and your patients are telling you where to find it. Be aware of it, adapt and change. Your patients will tell you exactly how they feel about their experiences with you, your staff and the overall environment. Listen and be aware of what they are telling you.
Showcase Your Humanity not your Technology
Believe it or not, your existing and potential patients want to see the human side of your practice. They want to see you (plural) as people. While you might be the best dentist, hygienist, practice administrator or receptionist in the area, they want to see you as human and the office should reflect that desire.
Showcasing your skill is wonderful but showcasing your humanity is far better. People respond to discussions of what the office did last week far more than they do about the technical aspects of dentistry or what new piece of equipment you have installed. Posts and discussions like “Becky celebrated her 10-year work anniversary on Wednesday” or “Mike ran the 5k for Breast Cancer Awareness and raised $2,500” get far more engagement than a technical post on the latest advances in oral care. Remember: your patients are coming to you because you are a professional. They want you to be amazing at your job. They expect you to be up on all the latest technology and trends for your profession; but, they also want to know that you are a caring, fun and compassionate person. They want to spend time with you, so show them how amazing that time is going to be.
This might seem daunting at first but it’s actually quite simple.
The items discussed above can propel a practice into being the most amazing practice they can be. So: strive to excel both professionally and personally; showcase your humanity; know and respond to what people are saying about you; and, ask for and respond to feedback. See? Easy as brushing your teeth.