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Bring Online Reviews to Your Daily Huddle

I just had a great conversation with Anastasia Turchetta, who is a dental speaker and hygienist, (she’ll be speaking at TBSE this year) and I was showing her our new product, Reputation Monitor.  She immediately had a suggestion which I thought was great, which was to use it in the morning huddle and read the previous day’s reviews to the team.  This serves many purposes.  If there was as negative review, then the team can discuss what went wrong and how to correct it going forward. (It also should be someone’s job to respond to the negative review, but that’s not for the huddle.)  If you had positive reviews, this lets the team know that they are doing a great job and that people are noticing, and gets everyone excited about the day.

It also has the benefit of reminding team members that they are being reviewed, like it or not.  And so that should make them step up their game, and be conscientious, considerate and courteous throughout the day.  And it keeps the idea in mind that they should request that the patients do reviews for the practice, and that they can even do it in the office on their smartphone.  Or the patient could be encouraged to check in on Facebook and post a comment.

Reputation Monitor is a great tool for showing every comment that is being posted about the practice, whether it’s in social media like Facebook or an online review on Yelp or Google.  And this is a terrific way to take advantage of that information.  Thanks, Anastasia!

Online Reviews Are Like Vampires

The dental world is abuzz with stories of online reviews of practices, with good reason. Like vampires, online reviews live forever.  And also like vampires, if you’re not careful they can suck your blood until you’re dry.  A recent study showed that 89% of online reviews are positive.  This is absolutely not true for dentist reviews.  Because people don’t really have a good way of assessing treatment plans or a dentist’s clinical skills, they go by impressions created by the cost, the practice environment, the staff attitude, and a host of intangibles, and when they are scared, unhappy, disappointed or think they are overcharged, now they go on Yelp, Google or someplace like that and spew about it.  Venomously.

And you can’t get that review down. Many have tried. And people who read them don’t come away with much factual information, but people give credence to reviews, because they’ve been reading reviews on Amazon, Trip Advisor, Rotten Tomatoes and FourSquare (and Facebook, too) for years, and they won’t make a decision without hearing from the masses.

It’s a scary environment, and it’s also very hard to track. There are literally hundreds of websites that have some information about you, most of it that you didn’t submit and don’t know anything about.  And it would take hours every week to search them out and respond or correct them.  Until now.

Here at my company we felt that this is such a critical area of marketing that we developed a tool for dentists to easily track that information, and then do something about it.  Last week we officially launched Reputation Monitor.  Here in one dashboard you can track everything from reviews, to social media, to competitors’ ratings online.

This program goes out and searches hundreds of websites and compiles the data for you, and then gives you an easy way to fix it, or at least comment on if it’s a review, or even bring positive reviews into your own Facebook page or website.

It will even send you alerts when a new review appears, by email or right to your cell phone if you’d like.

I think this is an essential tool for dentists or office managers to take control of their online reputation without spending a huge amount of time.  There are other products that claim to do some of this, but this is the most comprehensive and user-friendly product out there.  I’m really proud of it, and I hope you’ll try it and tell me what you think.

It does so much that it takes 15 minutes or so to fully demonstrate it.  If you’re interested, click to schedule a demo for Reputation Monitor.  In a later blog I’ll talk about my recommendations for dealing with negative reviews.

This is what the overview page looks like:

Online Reviews: Witness the Rise of Yelp

The world of online reviews continues to heat up.  Yelp has now partnered with Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, to include their reviews when a business comes up in a search.

If you don’t know what Yelp is, you need to.  It is a site where people can review any business, including your dental practice, and you have no control over the content.  They went public this year and are currently worth $1.5 billion, so don’t expect them to go away any time soon.

You may be also thinking, “Bing?  Does anyone use Bing?”  Or even, “I’ve never heard of Bing.”  So you should know that there are three primary search engines at this point: Google, Bing and Yahoo. Google of course dominates with more than 65% of all searches, but Bing still gets 15%,  which is not nothing.  And Yelp is taking advantage of that.

Google is also the biggest player when it comes to reviews, but Yelp is a strong second. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Google bought Zagat and is combining Zagat reviews with their own reviews.  Zagat is more than just travel and dining, by the way. It is now soliciting reviews on doctors and dentists, so those will start to show up.  In response to this, Yelp teamed up with Bing.  They also teamed up with Apple.  In October, Apple will be introducing its own mapping program and no longer using Google Maps on iPhones.  Yelp made a deal with Apple to include their reviews in local business search results.  This is big, as Apple controls almost a third of the smartphone business.

You should also be aware that if someone reviews you on Yelp, they can have it automatically posted to their Facebook wall for all their friends to see All of this will strengthen Yelp’s number 2 position.

Why should you care?  First, because 60-70% of dentists already have at least one review on Yelp. And even if you don’t have a review, you could very easily get one tomorrow.  Nothing Yelp does notifies you of this. (By the way, your practice is already listed there.) But you should really care because more people are reading online reviews all the time, and are coming to expect them. Many people don’t act until they can read a review, and if they can’t find a review about a business, they will move on to one that does have them.

How many people, you ask? According to a Nielsen report, for those people who are active users of social media, more than 65% will use social media, including Yelp, to seek reviews from their peers on products and services.  And more than 50% of them also actively post positive or negative reviews.  Those are huge percentages, considering the fact that more than 70% of baby boomers now have at least one social media account!  (Gen X and Y are of course even higher.)

So what should your plan be?

1.  You need to claim your business on Yelp in order to be able to comment or reply to reviews, and also because you can put a lot more information about your practice, like hours and services, photos and video. Do that here: biz.yelp.com.  Like, today.

2. Solicit Yelp reviews from your patients.  This blog tells you a great trick for getting them.

3. Monitor your reputation online.  Make this someone’s job in the office. And always comment on reviews.

I’ll be talking more about solutions for managing your reputation online in weeks to come.

Lastly, if you’re interested in an excellent in-depth look at online consumer behavior, check out this article by Brian Solis.

The Best Places for Patient Reviews

After a speaking engagement last week in Atlanta, a dentist asked me how I would rank the various places where patients can review his practice.  I thought my answer would be of general interest.

#1.  Google.  No surprise there.  80% of business search is done on or through Google or Google Maps.  And underneath the search results are the number of Google reviews that can be read. (These reviews have to be written by someone with a gmail address, by they way.)

I will again use my friend Dr. Craig Spodak’s results to show you.  See how he has 89 reviews?  Also note that someone can click next to that count and write their own review.  The more reviews you have, the better you will come up on Google in a natural (unpaid) search.

#2. Your Own Website. This is the next place people are likely to look for reviews (and Google will also be searching your site for them, which will boost your website’s SEO).  This means you have to have a website that is dynamic.  That word means something specific in the web world–that is, that you can add and change information yourself, rather than having to use your webmaster.  You need to be able to add photos, video, your blog (if you’re doing one) and especially patient reviews and testimonials.

This requires you to solicit those reviews from your patients, and then post them yourself. Or, much more simply, you could use a digital communication application like Patient Activator, that has as one of its features automatic patient surveys.  This application will email patients three days after their visit and ask them to respond to a short survey, and encourage them to write a review of the practice.  It is then posted to a microsite of your practice (more SEO for you), and you can also use the reviews you like on your own website, and also pop them onto your Facebook fan page.

#3. Yelp. The usage of this business review site varies widely city by city, but more and more people are posting reviews about everything, including dentists.  About 70% of US dentists have at least one review, I’ve been told.  You want to invite your patients to do this, ideally while in the office.  The best way is to get a few tablet computers for them to use, as I suggested in a previous blog.  One key point: Yelp gives preference to reviews that are written by frequent reviewers on their site.  This means that if a patient doesn’t normally review on Yelp, the review might not appear, or will not float to the top.  Yelp does not list your reviews chronologically, but by a combination of rating and some more mysterious elements.

#4. Facebook.  This is not technically a review site, but patients can now write “recommendations” on your Facebook fan page, and these are shown separately.  One glitch–if you have not properly categorized your dental practice there will not be a place for recommendations.  I also don’t feel like people use Facebook to see recommendations that much, but rather go to your fan page to see what people post about you, or what you and your team post about yourself.  You should use iPads to get patients do post here as well while they are in the office.

#5. Everywhere Else.  Angie’s List, LinkedIn, CitySearch, Dr. Oogle all have reviews.  Angie’s list is probably the next most important place, but reviews can only be read by subscribers, and only subscribers to the site can post reviews.  It narrows the audience considerably, and also the number of your patients who could review you there.  The site does a wide range of businesses, while Dr. Oogle is strictly health care, but the latter site gets significantly less traffic than all the others.

Reviews will matter more and more, so now is the time to focus on them, but make sure you are getting them in the most advantageous places.  And remember, you don’t need hundreds of reviews.  No one would read that many. But you need a steady stream of fresh ones. Even two a week will add up quickly, and help with your SEO, but I would aim for one a day, and you’ll be well on your way!

Claiming your Yelp Place

Go to biz.yelp.com and click on “Create your free account now”. This will allow you to search for your business and claim it, and then fill out the information. They will call your business with an access code and then you can put in a lot of information. Many people are surprised to find there practice already in Yelp, sometimes with reviews.

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