By Jeff Russell, Author of Secrets to a Successful Practice & Executive Director of the IAPAM
The New Reality – Importance of Online Reviews
There is an unfortunate reality that all practices face—negative or unfavorable reviews. If you have not had a patient post a negative review on one of the online rating websites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and/or RateMDs, you will. I know that is not the news you wanted to hear, but it’s going to happen. Unfavorable online reviews will usually have some kind of negative impact on your business, so it is important you and your team are prepared for them. I say usually, since if you follow the tips outlined below, you may survive or even come out ahead.
Are online reviews important? According to Brightlocal, 97% of consumers read online reviews and 85% of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
If you follow our three-step process, you are sure to get more 5-star reviews!
Step 1: Identify the popular review websites in your area
The first thing you need to do is determine which online review websites are popular in your area. In some cities, Yelp is popular, for others it’s Facebook or Angie’s List. Since Facebook contains the ideal aesthetic practice demographic, you can be assured Facebook Reviews will be on that list!
Here is a listing of popular aesthetic/weight loss review websites:
- Facebook Reviews
- Google Reviews
- Angie’s List
- Care Dash
- Top Doctors
- And many more!
You should visit each of these sites and see if you are listed on them. You should also google your practice’s name to see which websites you are listed on.
Step 2: Ensure You are Providing Excellent Customer Service
You may think you are providing excellent customer service, but until you test it you don’t really know. Have a third party “secret shopper” service or a friend call and check up on your practice. How friendly was the phone answered? Were they encouraged to come in for a free consultation? Did they feel welcomed when they arrived at the practice? How was the consultation?
Before you ask for reviews, you better make sure your practice is in order!
Step 3: Ask Every Happy Patient for a Review
Now that you know the popular review sites in your area, you need to have a simple process in place to remind patients to post online reviews.
When we first started, we just used a regular email (see example below), but that only went to patients who we thought loved us (the +4-star rating patients). This certainly added some 4 and 5-star ratings to Facebook and Google, but what it didn’t do was prevent 1-star ratings. If your EMR (Electronic Medical Records) has a survey option, this is ideal, as you can set up your system to email patients after their procedure and ask them what they thought of their experience with you. If it was not a good one, you can now respond and make it right. If it was a good experience, you can then send a subsequent email request for them to do an online review of your practice.
If you’re worried about negative reviews, read our article How to Manage and Prevent Negative Online Patient Reviews.
Some of the ways in which you can send out a survey are:
- Using your existing EMR (electronic medical records)
- e-Newsletter software (Constant Contact)
- Survey software (Survey Monkey)
- Regular email
- Specialized software (Reputation Stacker, GetFiveStars, etc.).
One tip is to keep it simple. Just ask one question like “Would you recommend our practice to a friend or family member?” It requires a yes or no response. If no, you need to follow-up immediately.
It is also important to let your team know that every patient will be surveyed, and the ratings will be used as part of the clinic’s performance numbers. When you tie it to their job or compensation, you will often see an increase in the patient review ratings.
Sample Email Request for a Referral:
We’d like to thank you for participating in (Clinic Name’s) Clean Start Weight Loss program. The goal of our medically supervised program is to quickly and effectively get your body back. If you have any questions on the maintenance portion of the program, please don’t hesitate to give the clinic a call.
As you know, there are many weight loss programs available, and you probably spent some time choosing this program. If you found that our program met your expectations, would you be so kind as to share your thoughts and feedback with others who may also be looking for an effective weight loss solution?
We know this is a lot to ask, but if you would, please feel free to do a quick rating and/or review on one (or all) of these websites (a Facebook rating only takes five seconds!):
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClinicName/reviews/ (just click on the grey star!)
Google (if you use Gmail or Google): https://www.google.ca/search?q=clinic+name (click the “Write a Review” button on the right, below the map and address of the clinic).
Again, we thank you for choosing (Clinic Name), and if any of your friends or family would like to avail of any of our services, we’d appreciate the referral. Ask them to tell us who referred them so we can give you a free month of our Lifestyle Maintenance Program (valued $99/month per referral).
We wish you the best!
Person name, title, contact info
That is it, a simple three-step process to encourage your patients to give you an online review.
If you are ready to grow your practice or are preparing to start your first practice, check out the IAPAM’s Practice Startup Workshop.