The Value of Owning Your Own Reviews

Dentistry is one of those professions where reputation means everything. No matter how good you are at teeth cleaning, orthodontics or root canals, if the general public looks at you unfavorably, for whatever reason, your new patient numbers are going to suffer. Even if those opinions are unfounded, your reputation in your local community could mean the difference between a successful practice and one that suffers from year to year. This makes reputation marketing one of the most important tasks any dental professional faces. Yet reputation marketing is one of those things that dentists never spend enough time on. The reason most dentist’s give? “I don’t have enough time.” Therein lies the catch-22.


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Most dentists are so busy tending to their patients that they lack the time to market the very services they’re offering. So when a company comes along like Demandforce or Lighthouse that promises to do that marketing for them, it can make even the most independent dentist heave a big sigh of relief.

Finally, here’s a company that will take care of all patient communications and online reviews. It’s like hiring an extra staff member just to market your business.  But hang on a second. Is this really the right move to make? By relinquishing control of your marketing, you’re giving up the very power to control the information you’re putting out. Even if your schedule is super demanding, you must realize that controlling your marketing message is of the utmost importance. This is especially true for online reviews.

Why Online Reviews Are Important

Online reviews can make or break a dental practice. Nearly 70% of new patients will view online reviews before they choose a dental provider. And many patients now say that online reviews can be just as important to them as a dentist’s professional credentials. People have come to trust these reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend or family member, even if the person writing them is a complete stranger.

Jason T. Lipscomb, DDS knows this all too well. As he recently wrote for Dental Town, “In my practice, I have stopped using most conventional marketing. Studies have increasingly shown that the yellow phone book and display ads are on their way out. It is just too convenient for those with smartphones to find what they want quickly. Studies have also shown that people are seeking recommendations from the masses instead of what is fed to them. An online listing with multiple reviews from real people will carry much more weight than a phonebook ad with no real-world recommendations.”

What does all this signify? It means that if Mrs. Jennings leaves your office and jumps online as soon as she gets home (or uses her mobile device in the car the moment she makes it out to the parking lot) to relay her experiences with your dental office, what she writes could help to deliver more new patients your way. On the other hand, if what Mrs. Jennings writes is negative in nature, her review could deter others from even giving your services a chance. That’s how powerful online reviews are for today’s discerning internet user.

This also means that you need to gather as many positive reviews as possible if you hope to drum up public perception of your dental services, and to keep your appointment schedule full all year round.

But let’s get back to the original question for a moment – is it the right move to give up control of your online reviews to a third-party service simply because you’d rather have someone else handle that aspect of your business? To help illustrate why this is a bad idea, let’s look at a worst case scenario.

Why Using Demandforce and Lighthouse Can Have Negative Implications

Let’s say you sign up with Demandforce or Lighthouse and things are going smoothly, or at least they seem to be. By automating your marketing, you’ve managed to build up a healthy collection of online reviews. This is helping to attract new patients to your office and you feel pretty good about your decision. What happens, then, when you decide to quit using the service? Or what happens when those services inadvertently shut down, or decide to stop working with you? What will happen to all the online reviews you’ve amassed? They’ll be scraped away, like the plaque you so diligently remove from your patients’ teeth.

What’s the alternative? Take control of your online reviews and never relinquish control of your marketing message. Here’s how to do just that.

Suggestions for Encouraging and Controlling Your Online Reviews

To build up a collection of positive reviews that you control, follow these suggestions that even the busiest of dentists can accomplish.

  • Make it the job of someone in your office to visit Google on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be daily, but it should be at least weekly. While they’re at it, they might want to visit Yelp, which is becoming increasingly popular among consumers looking for dental recommendations.
  • Another good idea is to set up a Google Alert, which is designed to send your office an email anytime your practice name is mentioned online.
  • Have the person whose job it is to monitor the internet for reviews visit Facebook and Twitter regularly to see if anyone has mentioned your dental practice.
  • To encourage reviews, post signs in your waiting room and possibly even in your operatories requesting reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Twitter and Google Places. To make this even easier, many practices are now making iPads (or similar tablets) available in the waiting rooms to give patients a chance to visit these review sites on the spot (but most can just their smartphones).
  • Custom emails can even be sent out encouraging positive reviews. These can be patient reminders, surveys or simple requests to leave a review on one or more popular review sites. Remember, you’ll be more likely to get reviews if you come right out and ask for them.
  • When you start to gather reviews, place a Review Us page on your website where you can collect them for all to see. That same page can also include instructions to help people leave their own reviews.
  • If you get negative reviews, don’t let it get you down. Contact the person who left the review, if possible, to try and make the experience right. Even if you can’t contact the person, the best solution for negative reviews is to pile more positive reviews on top of them. This way the negativity will be less likely to affect you, and it won’t take long for that negative review to be forgotten altogether.

It’s Time to Take Control Today

If you’ve been working with a company like Demandforce of Lighthouse, or you’ve been considering it, stop right there and think for a moment. This is your chance to take control of your marketing and your online reputation. That is a far better position than giving up control to a third-party. To help you earn more reviews, collect the ones you have and to help position your reviews so that they’ll work for you and your practice, contact Firegang Digital Marketing today. We’ll provide you with a free marketing assessment that will give you the edge you need online.

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