10 Suggestions to Ask Dental Patients for Reviews the Right Way
by Tyson Downs
The chances are good that many of the people who book the first appointment with you have read online reviews of your practice before they call you. About 71% of consumers read reviews as the first step in finding a new healthcare provider.
It is worth noting that consumers tend to trust online reviews from strangers as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend. In other words, yesterday’s word-of-mouth has become today’s review on Google or Yelp.
Getting good reviews for your practice is a must if you want to attract new patients. The tricky part is understanding how to ask dental patients for reviews without pressuring them. Reviews must be genuine to be useful.
So, how do you ask for reviews? We'll get there, trust me. First, we need to understand why reviews are important.
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Why Reviews Matter
You already know that consumers are using reviews to evaluate healthcare providers before making appointments. Let's talk about the specific things that make reviews popular as a means of choosing a new provider.
Online Reviews Raise Your Visibility
Google prioritizes local businesses based on their reviews. If you have enough positive reviews, your practice has a better chance of qualifying for Google Local Service ads, which highlight businesses that are Google-verified. The listings highlight your average review rating to help people choose your practice over others in your area.
Online Reviews Help Your Dental Practice Stand Out from the Competition
Unless you live in a sparsely populated area, you have local competition. When people in your target audience search for a dentist, reading online reviews can affect patient's decision-making process helping them choose your practice over others in your area.
For example, reviews may mention treatments you offer, team members who deliver excellent service, or feedback about your professionalism and your ability to make patients feel comfortable during treatments.
Online Reviews Build Authority and Credibility
When people are choosing a healthcare provider, they need to feel confident that they can trust the person treating them to do a good job. In other words, they need to feel that the provider they select has authority and credibility.
Online reviews can help with that because each time someone writes a review that highlights your skill and knowledge, it sends a signal that your practice is trustworthy.
Another way of looking at it is that online reviews help to alleviate doubts that prospective patients might have and make them comfortable choosing your practice. Online reviews can also improve your dental SEO performance and attract new patients. If you live in an area where you compete with several other practices, this can make a big difference.
Barriers That Prevent Dental Practices from Getting More Reviews
If your dental practice isn't getting many reviews, you might be wondering why that is. Some common barriers can be preventing your practice from getting the online reviews you need.
- You're waiting too long to request patient reviews. People are more likely to leave reviews in the hours and days after leaving your dental practice. If you delay asking them, they may not feel the same urgency that they would after leaving your office with clean teeth.
- You're making requests manually. If your team members are busy all day, they may not have time to ask patients for reviews one at a time. Not using automation can turn asking for reviews into a cumbersome task.
- You're worried about negative reviews. We all want positive reviews, but you can't let a fear of negative feedback prevent you from asking for online reviews. Even negative feedback presents an opportunity for you to fix a problem. Another point is that consumers tend not to trust sites with perfect five-star reviews across the board. While you might strive for excellence, nobody gets it right 100% of the time.
If any of these barriers ring a bell, then it's time to revamp your system and make sure that you and your team members have a plan for soliciting the patient reviews you need.
Claiming Your Listings on Review Sites
The first step you need to take before you encourage people to write a dental review is to claim your listings on online review sites like Yelp and Google My Business.
Claiming your listings allows you to verify the information about your business, including your address, URL of your website, telephone number, hours of operation, and other key data that patients need to find you.
Here’s a quick overview of how to do it:
- For Yelp, search for your practice and, when you find it, click the “Claim My Business” button on the page. You’ll be prompted to enter your telephone number and you’ll get an automated phone call to verify your listing. After that, you’ll get an email link that you can use to edit your information. If your practice isn’t listed, you’ll need to click the “Add a Business” button and follow the instructions.
- For Google My Business, you’ll start by logging in to Google and searching for your practice. When you find it, you’ll have to provide some basic information and wait for Google to mail you a postcard to verify that you are the owner. Once you’ve verified that, you’ll be able to edit your listing and add relevant information.
- The process for Bing is like Google’s. You’ll need to verify that you own your practice first and then you’ll be able to update and edit your listing.
When you’re updating your information, make sure to do the following:
- Double-check your address, phone number, and other relevant information. Remember that all your NAP listings (that’s name, address, and phone number) online should be identical. If you use Avenue in one listing, don’t use Ave in another. This will dilute your online presence.
- Add business hours, pricing information, a link to your website, and any other information that patients might need.
- Include photos of both the interior and exterior of your practice.
Doing these things ensure that your listings are accurate and complete. These things will also prevent you from being confused with another dental practice in your area.
It’s a good idea to link to your Yelp profile on your website and social media pages. That way, patients know you have a presence there and they may click through to leave a review.
How to Ask Dental Patients for Reviews
Now that you know how to claim your review listings, let’s talk about how to ask the dental patient to write a review. There are 10 basic techniques you can use depending on your comfort level and budget.
1. Send a Personalized Email
The first method to try is emailing new and long-term dental patients to ask for reviews. Dental email marketing is cost-effective and can help you build trust with your patients.
When a new patient comes to your office, make sure to get their email address when they fill out their preliminary paperwork. That way, you can add them to your mailing list and reach out to ask for a review after you’ve treated them.
In the email, thank them for coming to see you and ask them to consider leaving a review. You can make it easy by linking out to your listings on Google and Yelp.
2. Ask Them Face to Face
The next method to try, if you’re comfortable with it, is to ask patients to write a review of your practice when they’re in your office for an appointment. You should not ask in the middle of cleaning or treatment, but you can ask when you’re done or have a team member ask for you.
Not everyone is comfortable with this kind of face-to-face interaction, but if you are, then you might want to try it. You can even provide a business card or hand-out that has links to your review sites.
Face-to-face requests feel personal and are an effective way to get the reviews you need.
3. Ask for Reviews on Social Media
If your practice isn’t on social media then it’s time to get started. You don't need to be everywhere. Having a Facebook page can boost your visibility and make it easy to connect with current and prospective patients. By sharing relevant and valuable posts on social media, you can remind patients who haven’t seen you in a while of the services you provide.
On your Facebook profile page, you can list more than one URL. For example, you can link to your site, Yelp, and Google My Business. You can even ask patients directly for reviews. For example, you might post something like this:
Did you know that we’re one of the top-rated dental practices in Lake Forest? Click here to let us know how we’re doing.
Then, you can include a link to Google or Yelp. The chances are good that some of the people who see your post will click through and leave a review.
4. Ask via Direct Mail
Compared to some of the other methods listed here, soliciting reviews via dental direct mail might seem like an old-fashioned approach. However, it can be effective because a piece of mail is harder to ignore than an email or a Facebook post.
Bulk mailing rates are still quite affordable. For some patients, getting mail from you may feel more personal and compelling than getting an email. The fact that you took the time to send them something might tip them toward wanting to leave a review.
5. Solicit Reviews from Your Practice Website
Do patients use your website to schedule appointments or ask questions? If so, then you may want to put a call to action (CTA) asking for reviews on the pages that get the most traffic.
Repeat clients who haven't previously reviewed your practice may be inspired to do so if they see the CTA on your site. Your CTA should link directly to a third-party review site. We suggest directing people to Google since reviews there have the greatest impact. Alternatively, you could link them to an internal page of your dental website that has links to all your online listings that allow people to review businesses.
6. Appointment Cards
Handing out appointment cards when someone books a new appointment is a good way to minimize no-shows. What you might not have considered is that it's a good way to get people to leave a review for you.
Our suggestion is to put the URL for your Google and Yelp listings on the back of the card and point it out when you distribute the cards.
7. Take-Home Instructions
Some of your patients are certain to be experienced at reviewing the businesses they frequent. Others may never have written an online review and may need some help. Providing them with take-home instructions can help get less-experienced people through the process to leave a review.
Your instructions should include the URLs of your online listings and some guidance on what to include in a review. For example, you might suggest that people explain which treatments they received, who treated them, and what their experience was like.
If you prefer, you can provide patients with a template to use. It might look something like this:
I came to Dr. _____ for ______. When I arrived, the front desk ________. My treatment was ______ and I found Dr. _____ to be _____.
Simply providing some guidance when people aren't sure what to write can help them overcome any reluctance they might have to leave an online review about their experiences with you.
8. Promotional Items
Many dentists buy small promotional items to give their patients. These items are an inexpensive option used to keep your brand in the front-of-mind in between appointments. Here are some examples of promotional items you might have or consider buying:
- Pencils or pens
- Toothbrush covers
- Tube squeezers
- Lip balm
If you have promotional items on hand, they probably have your name and contact information on them. To get more reviews, consider adding the URL of your Google or Yelp review site there with a note, like this:
Please leave a review: www.yelp.com/biz/your-practice-name
Everybody loves a freebie and people who receive your promotional items will be inclined to want to return the favor by leaving a review.
We already talked about direct mail, but we think that postcards deserve a special mention. They are small and inexpensive to print and if you use them properly, they can encourage people to leave online reviews about their experiences with you.
The best way to handle postcards is to send them out when you've experienced a milestone event such as a business anniversary or an expansion of your services. The postcard should do several things.
- Feature a cute or funny picture that will catch people's attention and make them want to keep it.
- Address the recipient in a brief note that thanks them for choosing you as their dentist and acknowledges their role in your success.
- Ask for a review and let them know that writing one will help others find you when they need dental services.
What you shouldn't do is send a postcard that's is only to ask for reviews. You might even want to include the review request as a postscript to the primary note.
10. SMS Messages
Text messaging has become increasingly common as a way for dentists to stay in touch with their patients. Texts have a higher open rate than emails and they are easy to read and respond to.
If you regularly text appointment reminders, why not add review requests to the mix? The best time to do it is right after an appointment or procedure when the recipient is already thinking of you and their experience is fresh.
A sample text message might say:
We hope that you're feeling good after your appointment! Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns and we'll get back to you right away. We'd appreciate it if you'd leave us a review to help others find us. Click here to write a review now!
We recommend including a live link to your Google business page so people who receive your text messages can tap it and write the review immediately.
Guiding Patients through the Review Process
Some patients who you talk to about reviews may be reluctant or nervous about writing one. If that’s the case, then you can provide some general guidance about how to proceed.
It’s important to note that we’re not talking about telling reviewers what to say about you. Rather, we’re talking about giving them some pointers that can help them get started.
Examples of Good Dental Reviews
All of the below can be best accomplished if you have a review funnel in place. Be sure to read our blog post:
The first thing you can do is to provide patients with examples of well-written dental reviews by getting a few reviews on your profiles first. If you’ve already got an established listing on Yelp, you can simply direct them to your Yelp page and suggest they read other reviews to get ideas.
If you’re just getting started and don’t have any online reviews, then you may want to find a sample review from another practice (not one of your competitors) and share it with patients.
Dental Review Highlights
Another thing that may be helpful to patients who want to write reviews is providing them with a list of potential topics to address in their reviews. Here are some examples:
- Cleanliness/appearance of your practice
- Quality of patient services/friendliness of the staff
- Waiting times
- Effectiveness of dental treatments
- Overall patient experience
By providing them with details to cover in their reviews, you can help them get started.
While not directly related to writing reviews, focusing on your interactions with patients is one of the most important ways to encourage them to review your dental practice and leave the kinds of comments that will help you attract new patients.
The more accommodating and friendly you and your staff are, the more likely it is that patients will be moved to leave a review. The truth is that consumers tend not to leave reviews for middle-of-the-road services. Instead, they review businesses that they love or hate.
Providing excellent patient services can do a great deal to encourage reviews. If patients love coming to your office, they’re going to want to help you out by writing a review.
How to Moderate Review Sites
Soliciting reviews of your dental practice is important, but your job doesn’t end there. You’ll also have to get in the habit of moderating review sites to ensure that your reputation isn’t damaged by a negative review.
Nobody likes to get negative reviews, but most businesses must cope with one eventually. How you handle negative reviews can have a huge impact on the way potential patients view your practice.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when monitoring your review pages:
- Make sure to check your pages regularly for new reviews. If you waited to claim your business and have old reviews there, it may be too late to respond. However, responding to new reviews – good and bad – can help demonstrate that you care about your patients and what they think.
- When you’re responding to a negative review, you have two options. One is to respond on the review site itself and try to have an interaction with the patient there. This may work for minor issues, but if a patient is upset then it is better to encourage them to call you so you can work it out privately.
- Even if a negative review upsets you, maintain control and keep your cool. Losing your temper will only tarnish your reputation and hurt you with other patients. If you can’t respond calmly, give yourself time to process your negative feelings before you write anything. You may even want to ask someone neutral to read your response before you post it to ensure no anger or resentment is coming through.
- If you’re successful in alleviating a patient’s problem, don’t be afraid to ask them to consider revisiting their review of your practice. They may not always be willing, but you have nothing to lose by asking.
- Responding to positive reviews isn’t necessary, but it’s certainly a nice thing to do. Patients who take the time to leave a good dental review deserve to receive some thanks and appreciation for the time it took them to write it.
If you ask an employee to respond to reviews on your behalf, make sure that you specify how you want them to reply to negative reviews. Let them know the appropriate tone to use and what they are empowered to do to try to help the reviewer.
Even if you’re not the one monitoring reviews, we recommend checking in periodically to make sure that things are being handled properly. If reviews are not responded to promptly or if they’re not handled professionally, future reviews can be impacted.
In the end, positive reviews of your dental practice can help you solidify your relationships with current patients and attract new ones. Considering how important online reviews are to the average consumer, it’s time to start using patient reviews to your advantage.
Are you worried about finding time to get more reviews? We can manage your review system for you!
About the Author
Tyson Downs, the owner of Titan Web Agency, has years of experience working with small businesses and helping them meet their revenue goals. Prior to starting Titan Web Agency, he freelanced in SEO and Web Design while working in the corporate world. Tyson is a graduate of Brigham Young University, the father of 5, and enjoys spending time with his family. Particularly on the baseball field.