In today’s post, we’re going to take a look at online patient reviews: how to ask for them, and how to manage them.
Last week, I sent out an email to a number of my clients and I asked them “what are the biggest struggles you’re having right now? What can I help you with? What do you need help getting unstuck with?”
I received a slew of replies with a list of things that I could create some content around to help people just like you (Yup, you. The person reading this post).
And one of them was actually around improving Google reviews!
A client wrote me an email that simply stated “improving Google reviews, especially for reviews that are super old and/or left for the wrong company, or someone that isn’t actually a customer”.
In a totally separate conversation with a different client a few days later, this came up again.
This client was also having difficulty with Google reviews, and they felt frustrated because they’d have a patient that was incredibly pleased with the results of their dental procedure so they’d ask them to leave a Google review. The patient would say “yes, I’m happy with the results, I’ll leave you a review”.
But a few weeks go by, and there’s no sign of any reviews on Google.
This happens all the time, many find it very frustrating as it feels like you’re being lied to, but truthfully, if something creates extra work for a person with little to no reward, it’s probably not #1 on their priority list.
Don’t be offended, it’s just how our little human brains function. If something is going to take effort, we tend to put it off to another time (and eventually forget about it).
Some of the clients I work with aren’t even sure how to get people to start leaving reviews. So they asked me what we thought of giving customers an incentive to leave a review (incentive being a discount or free product) and to answer that question, let’s look at the first tip for getting better Google reviews for your dental practice.
1. Don’t Offer Incentives To Your Patients To Leave Reviews
Some people may not agree with me but I am not going to give you the incentive to leave me a review!
That’s it, that’s my thought. You probably want me to explain, right? Okay.
I am not going to provide you with an incentive to leave me a review, because I, as a business owner, want that review to be as honest as possible.
By giving you an incentive, you’re going to feel like you have to give me a good review, even if you had a bad experience. You’re probably going to think that a good review is the only way that you’ll receive whatever incentive or prize I have promised you in exchange for a few nice words on Google.
I am against it 100%. I don’t think it’s the right way to get reviews. I want people to leave me good reviews because I’ve done great work.
And if they leave me a bad review, I’m not going to be upset, I’m going to thank them.
Why would I thank someone for leaving me bad reviews? Because now I know where my company needs to improve!
So rule number one in this post is going to be “don’t provide incentives for reviews”.
Customers should be leaving reviews because they’re happy. Plain and simple. Do good work, and if you don’t, learn how to make things better and improve so that you can do good work!
Touching on “Don’t be afraid of bad reviews”, let’s get to rule number two!
2. Don’t Be Afraid Of Getting Bad Reviews For Your Dental Practice
A lot of dental clinics will receive a bad review and they’ll automatically reach out to me and ask “how do I bury this review? Someone left me a bad review, can I get other customers to leave a whole bunch of reviews to bury it? Or is there a way I can delete it off my page?”
And my answer is always “Don’t be afraid and don’t bury bad reviews”.
The reason we don’t want to be afraid or bury those bad reviews is that – as a dental business owner, you should be learning from all your reviews, even the bad ones.
If someone gave you a bad review, that means they’ve had a bad experience at your clinic. So why would you shy away from that? Use it to learn! Respond to it like a professional!
Other people will see you take bad reviews seriously and notice that you’re actively working to change that outcome for the customer so they receive better service in the future.
By responding professionally to bad reviews and doing your best to improve, it will make you look like a better business, and a better business owner, to both old and new customers. It shows you actually care about the care your patients are receiving from your dental clinic.
So, don’t be afraid of bad reviews.
Now, you might be asking “how should I respond to bad reviews?”
Always respond in a very professional manner. The first thing you’re going to do is hit that reply button, and you’re going to say to your patient, “I am truly sorry that you had a bad experience”.
Seriously, apologize for how they’re feeling! They took the time to let you know they left your dental clinic feeling bad. YOUR dentist made them feel that way.. so apologize!
It’s not an attack on your character, or against your staff, they’re simply expressing how they felt after visiting your dental surgery.
If their name is listed at the top or bottom of the review, then make sure to address them by their name.
“Hi, Peter. I am truly sorry that you have had a bad experience.”
When you address someone by name, they’ll feel like you’re paying attention to their concerns and that you honestly care about them, because you’ve taken the time out of your day to learn their name.
“Hey Peter, I’m truly sorry that you had a bad experience. I would love to know what we can do to make it right. Please email or call me at 555-5555 and we can discuss how we can make it right.”
Always, always, always (I can’t stress this enough), ALWAYS, take it offline.
Don’t air your dirty laundry for the world to see. Don’t say “Hey Paul. I looked into this and apparently, YOU yelled at my receptionist, and you were a horrible patient. So we don’t welcome you back here.”.
For goodness sake! Don’t do any of that! It looks childish!
It will make you look like a horrible dentist to all the other people that see this reply and are thinking about booking an appointment with you.
People WILL read Google reviews before deciding to choose a dental practice to go to. So you want to make sure that you remain professional. Take it offline and do your best to make sure that your patient leaves happy because happy patients refer more people to your clinic. And referrals are the lifeline of almost every company out there.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Follow Up
If you’ve asked a patient to leave you a review and a few weeks have gone by but they haven’t followed through and left you that review yet…follow up. Absolutely follow up.
So here is the thing about customers, they have lives, they’re busy. I know, right? I’m talking the crazy talk here.
If they said they’re going to leave you a review after their procedure or check-up but haven’t, they’ve probably moved on to something else and forgotten about it or you’ve made it super difficult for them to leave you a review.
So don’t be afraid to follow up. You can do it through email or by phone, although I would suggest sending an email as people don’t like to be bugged at home on the phone.
As an example of this, you could send them something along the lines of:
“Hey, we really appreciate you choosing our dental clinic for your procedure. Just wondering if you wouldn’t mind telling us about your experience with us. Let us know honestly how it was to be our patient.”
And then follow that up with three or four specific questions about the service you provided to your customer in the same email.
Here’s an example of what you could say to your dental patients:
“Hey Paul, hope you’re doing well! Would you mind leaving us an honest review or telling us what it was like visiting our clinic? Was the check-up alright with you? How do your teeth feel afterwards? Did our receptionist help you out with everything you needed to know afterwards? Would you consider coming back for another check-up with our team?”
Ask them specific questions around what you think other potential patients would be interested in reading in order to help make the decision to choose you for their next visit to the dentist.
Being in design, strategy and marketing for dentists, I would ask questions like:
- How was the experience going from start to end of the project?
- Was our communication good?
- Did our customer service exceed your expectations?
- Did you see the results of the work that we did for you?
- Did you experience any growth?
- Were you happy with the end product?
- Would you be willing to share your experience with others?
I would ask specific questions about the service or product that I have delivered. And then when I receive those responses back, I would reply with: “Hey Mary, thanks for answering these questions, your responses were incredibly insightful. Do you mind if we use this in a testimonial? Also, would you mind putting these answers in a Google Review for us? I’ve included a direct link below to make it super easy for you”.
Giving them a direct link to my Google review page and letting them copy and paste their response into Google makes it way easier for them to complete the small task of leaving a review.
4. Make It As Easy As Possible
Now one of our clients mentioned to me that he’d been asking his customers to leave him reviews and after a few weeks had gone by, none of them had actually left any reviews.
So he said, “Would you mind leaving me a review?”. And his customer has said yes. He’s gone on to his next appointment and thought that’s the end of it. The review never happened and he doesn’t know what to do next. He’s left frustrated because reviews make a difference in search engine rankings and getting new clients booked in.
The problem with this is by asking for a review, but not leaving the customer with an easy to execute plan (a business card with where to leave the review, an email with a clickable link), he has now created extra work for his client.
And if you want someone to do anything at all, you need to make it as easy as possible.
It’s in our nature as humans to find ways to make things easy, to find ways to make work easy. And if it becomes too difficult or requires too many brain cells, we’ll find an excuse not to do it, or to put it off until later which often leads to forgetting about it altogether.
It’s just our nature, as human beings, to be a very intelligent species. We want to do as little work as possible and yet get a fantastic, huge outcome. That’s why “Get Rich Quick” schemes exist, that’s why so many people get duped into parting with their hard-earned money. Most people, when faced with the choice, will choose the path most travelled because it’s easier.
So when you’re asking your clients to leave your review, make it as easy as possible. Make it so there is no way that their brain can create excuses to put it off until later.
If you’d like to view a 2-minute video where I’m going to walk you through how you can find the link on your Google My Business page (see, I’m making this super easy for you, no excuses!) click here.
Once you’ve watched the (very) short section of my video showing you where to find your link, you’re going to copy your own link and send it to customers when you ask them to leave your review.
If clicking the link above was too difficult, here’s a step-by-step checklist with images (see – options!).
In these two images, we’re on my Google Desktop and you can see in the top right-hand corner the MV logo. That means I’m logged into Google. When I’m logged in, I now see these nine little squares. If I click on these squares, you can see the Google My Business logo here.
Now, if you haven’t set up a Google My Business account for your business, you’re going to want to do that, because this is how you’re going to get Google reviews. Here’s an article from Bright Local walking you through how to accomplish this.
PRO TIP: People looking for your product or service are going to see your business, they’re going to click on the Google My Business section, and they’re going to read the reviews of past clients to see if you’re somebody they want to do business with.
PRO TIP #2: Having those reviews will also increase your search engine rankings. How? The more positive reviews you have, the bigger the chance you’ll start showing up higher in the search engine for your product or service. Google likes to show relevant information that’s helpful to people and is being recommended by other people.
You want that social proof, you want people leaving you good reviews, and you want it showing up on your Google review page.
The dashboard you’re seeing in the image to the left is of another company called Tradies, they create lead-generating websites and growth specifically for the trade industry. Check them out here: www.tradies.ca.
We’ll use the Tradies account to show you where to find the link, and in a separate post or video, I’ll go through setting up a Google My Business Page. But for today, we’re just looking at the reviews.
If you have Google My Business already set up, then you may have seen this, but not noticed it.
Scroll down until you see the get my first review section shown in the image. And if you already have reviews, this is probably going to say something like “get more reviews”. Now click on the share review form button. And then we’re going to click “share via email” This will open up your email browser and automatically add the link to the message area.
In our screenshot to the left, it shows “Tradies would love your feedback, please re-post a review to our profile”.
So we’re just going to copy the link shown under the message and leave everything else behind. You can now test this out in your internet browser by pasting it into the address bar and hitting enter.
Once you do this, it will take you to your business page within Google and it will automatically open a pop-up where you can leave a review. You can add pictures, share details about your experience and you can give it a star rating. Then all you do is hit ‘post’.
The link that we just gathered by following the steps above is the link we’re going to send to our clients when we send that follow-up email.
“Hey, Peter, we really happy you had a good experience at our clinic! Now you’ve answered those questions would it be okay if I use this as a testimonial in my marketing material? Oh, by the way, would you also mind leaving this as a Google review on our Google My Business Page, here is the direct link. I’ve made it super easy for you, all you’ll need to do is click on the link then copy and paste your answers from our previous email (below) into the post box. Don’t forget to hit ‘post’ when you’re done!”
You’ve now given them a few easy steps in an order that makes it super easy for them to leave their response on your Google review page. And you’ve given them the direct link to do it.
You’ve cut out all of the work surrounding having to go to Google, look up your website, click on the review button, write a review, etc.
You’ve made this as easy as possible, so easy that even a child could follow these steps. And you’ve also given them a suggestion of what they should be pasting into the Google review form.
Now they don’t even have to figure out what to write!
5. Guide Your Patients If They’re Not Sure What To Say
If you’re not comfortable asking your patients a bunch of questions, but you’ve had a conversation with them after the job was done and they’ve told you they were happy with the check-up or procedure, write down what they’ve told you as soon as you can. If you don’t have a pen, pull out your phone and type it out in a message, and if you don’t have time to type it out, turn on your voice app and tell your phone what they just said.
When you’re reaching out for that review, you can now send them an email and say:
“Hey, Paul, last time we talked, you mentioned you were going to leave a Google review. You probably haven’t had time yet. Here’s a direct link to the posting page. When we talked after the appointment, you mentioned, you were happy with our team because we were friendly and your teeth looked fantastic. You liked that when we were done, our receptionist was cheerful and talked you through the payment process with ease. Would you mind mentioning this in the review?”
You’ve now used their own words back to them, AND you have written the review for them by using their own words. Again, making it super easy. Now they don’t need to think up what to say, because you have helped them with that. And you’re getting a stellar review 😉
The only thing your client needs to do is click the link then copy and paste their own words, which you’ve given back to them, into that Google review box.
If you’re not sure if your client was happy and you ask for a review, be sure to mention that you’d like them to give you honest feedback.
A lot of people are a little bit hesitant to give honest feedback if they’ve had a bad experience because it’s in human nature not to want to be confrontational. But by assuring your patients that you want honest feedback so you can improve your dental clinic and that you care about being a better clinic, it will be another reason for them to keep in contact with you in the future!
Again, now you’re showing you actually DO care what people think about your dental services, and you want to know how you can improve and serve your clients better.
On the other hand, if you honestly don’t care what your patients have to say, then there’s really no point in asking for reviews at all. But the majority of dental practice owners actually want to improve their services.
So we’ve touched on responding to bad reviews but now let’s touch on responding to the good or the neutral reviews that we’ve received.
6. Respond To All Reviews (Almost)
It’s incredibly important to be professional when responding to bad reviews. However, we don’t just want to respond to bad reviews, we want to respond to ALL reviews that have something to say.
If it’s just a star rating, and the client hasn’t left any content, I wouldn’t feel the need to actually respond unless it’s a one-star rating. And then I would respond and say something similar to “Hey X, can you please get in contact with us? Let us know how we could have provided a better experience for you as we’d like to improve.”
If it’s something like a three or a four-star rating, I might respond and say, “Hey Mary, thank you for leaving us a review, what could we have done differently to get that extra star? Please give us a call or contact us via email at [email] to talk about what we can improve on or do differently to give you a stellar experience next time.”
Again, take that offline, if it’s a five-star review, and there’s no comment left, there’s no need to reply or leave a comment on it.
When responding, you always thank your customer for leaving your review. Whether it’s good, bad, or neutral, thank them, because they’ve taken time out of their day to help you as a dental clinic, build a level of authority, and a level of trust with other people who’re thinking about booking a dental appointment.
It’s all about building trust with your brand. So start by thanking them.
If someone has left a review for the wrong company, then just say “thank you for leaving this review. I think you may have gotten us mixed up with another company, this is what our company does” and just explain who you are and why you think they may have left the wrong review. Or if you have the time, point them to the right company. It’s a little bit of extra work, but people will remember that you went out of your way to help them.
What if it’s someone that isn’t actually patient?
I’ve had this happen to my company in the past, where someone left us a very negative review. It was someone we had never done business with before. Rather than trying to bury the review or delete it, what I did was take the time to respond to the person and let them know that they had actually gotten the wrong company.
As a company who works with a small number of clients at one time. I’ve made it a point to always remember every client we have ever worked with. We’ve been around for 10 years and we want to make sure we give our customers stellar services, which also includes remembering who they are, who their company is, and what we worked on, even if it was 10 years ago.
Anyways, I had never done business with this person, and I have no record of them. However, I made sure to let them know we had not worked with them in the past but would be more than happy to get on a call or have them come by the office and see how we actually do business.
Now, they never did respond to my invitation. And that invitation remains open to this day, but I 100% would have met with that person to find out why they had mixed our company up with someone else and left a bad review.
I would have shown them that we have nothing to hide, and how we do business – customer satisfaction first.
Once again, it all comes down to responding professionally. Explain that you think they might have mistaken your business with another company and ask if they’d like you to help them fix any dental problems they’re having.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Let’s quickly review the six points for improving your dental clinic’s reviews.
- Don’t give incentives for reviews. That is number one, we want honest reviews, we do not want to coax people into thinking they have to give us a good review. We want people to be honest because this helps us improve as a business.
- Number two, don’t be afraid of bad reviews. If you have a bad review, respond to them in a respectful and in a professional manner. Learn how to improve from when you got into business to serve others. So serve them the best way that you can.
- Number three, don’t be afraid to follow up with a patient if they said they would leave you a review and a few weeks have gone by without a review in place yet. They’ve probably gotten busy. So make it as easy as possible for them.
- Number four. Make it super easy for the client to leave you a review!!
- Number five, guide your client if they’re not quite sure what to say. Or, if you have a specific way you would like people to respond to you then just ask them a few questions and guide them to a proper review. It could all come down to that someone just doesn’t know what to say once they get on that Google review form. So help them out with it. Remind them of the service you provided, remind them of things they said to you, and guide them in that review.
- And number six is to respond to those reviews, whether they’re good or bad. Take the time to thank your client and respond to them. All of this will help your dental practice grow.
Having those reviews and this trust factor will improve your search rankings. It’ll improve your credibility and build trust in your dental services helping your dental practice grow online.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve found this article helpful! If you’d like an expert to help you with reputation management, schedule a free clarity call with us here.