Reviews are influential. They are powerful.
Online reviews are the foundation for building your reputation. Simply put, reviews tell the world what your patients think of your practice. If online reviews of your practice are mostly positive and patients are saying encouraging things about you, consider this as excellent news. This means your current patients are helping you establish a positive online reputation for your practice. On the other hand, if your online reviews are negative, they can damage your reputation.
For more than 50 percent of patients, online reviews are the first thing they check when deciding to try a local physician. Positive reviews create powerful word-of-mouth marketing, improve patient retention and provide valuable insights you can use to enhance your online reputation. This is why it is important to not only monitor your online reviews, but display positive reviews from satisfied patients and address negative feedback from unsatisfied patients. Doing this will build trust with potential patients and promote your practice. However, the importance of gathering, managing and displaying reviews does not end here.
Online reviews are instrumental in increasing the overall ranking of your website on search engines. This is because of the higher your website ranks, the more visitors it attracts.
Moreover, here is the best part: The more traffic your website attracts, the more leads are likely to convert into patients, which means more revenue for your practice.
Clearly, patient reviews are important. The question is: How do you get them?
While you are busy running your medical practice, you are mostly focusing on attending to patients, learning new techniques and managing the day-to-day operations. The last thing you want to worry about is to ask for online reviews. However, unfortunately, you have to think about ways to gather as many online reviews as possible.
No doubt, asking for reviews is tough. It may be because your staff members do not want to take any more of a patient’s time after an appointment. Alternatively, maybe your employees are afraid of appearing pushy, or maybe they simply do not have the necessary training to bring up this topic. In any case, once a patient walks out the door, you have largely missed the opportunity to get a review. Therefore, you must have a strategy in place to get patients to write a review of your medical practice while they are still in your practice.
Who should ask for reviews?
Before discussing how to ask, we have to think who should ask.
It is important that the person who has the closest connection to the patient must ask for the review. Most often this person is the staff coordinator. The coordinator spends the maximum time with the patient, understands him or her on a deeper level, and therefore the patient is likely to respond positively to a request. If the patients are asked by someone who is not much known, they are likely to ignore the request. Personal relationships will play an integral role here.
What to ask?
It is best to break the ice by asking if the patient had a satisfactory experience. It must be a plain, simple question.
Here are a few ways to phrase the same question:
- We appreciate your continued business. Do you mind leaving us a review?
- Your feedback is critical to us. Would you mind taking a few minutes to leave us an online review?
- Have you read our online reviews? Would you mind adding your comments for us?
How to ask?
Here are the top five ways to encourage your happy patients to take the time to write about their experiences:
- Be direct: The best way to get online reviews is to approach the patient directly. Most of your patients will take the time and make an effort to review your practice on either your website or on third-party review sites. You can display a feedback form on your website and post an update on your brand’s social media page that requests patients to leave their feedback. You may choose to target patients who are particularly enthusiastic about your practice. Most often, a simple, “Do you mind reviewing us online?” will earn you a review.
- Make the process easy: Regardless of how great your customer service is, not many patients will go out of their way to rate your practice. You should not expect patients to remember to review your practice when they get home or leave a review when and where you want them to. For your patients to leave a review, you will have to make the process easy for them by giving them step-by-step printed instructions. You can also send them a direct link to your social media page or URLs to major review sites.
- Send personalized emails: Emails to patients thanking them for their continued business are a great way to stay top-of-mind. Instead of relying on an automated email to gather feedback from your patients, consider calling them or writing them handwritten letters. This is a very effective method as it will also help you extend your reach. Emails will not only enable communication but will also add a personal touch to the entire experience, which may earn you positive reviews. However, be sure to keep the email short and to the point.
- Offer incentives: Though it is considered unethical to bribe a patient in writing a review, you may provide an incentive by offering entry into a contest to anyone who leaves you a review. You can also encourage your patients to express their opinion by offering discounts and gift coupons. You can consider announcing a plan where you will extend discounts to all patients who will take the time to rate your practice on social media or post a review on review sites.
- Provide excellent customer service: The most important aspect is if you expect to get positive reviews, you will have to give your patients the best service possible. The way you make your patients feel is going to leave a lasting effect on them. You must train your staff to extend excellent service to every patient. Small gestures will help a patient feel more connected to your practice and assist in generating positive reviews.
Follow these guidelines
Growing your practice with reviews has to be a team effort. You must devote team meetings to helping each member understand the impact of reviews on your bottom line and online reputation. Remember, if you do not ask for reviews, you may not get any.
If you are confident that you have provided an excellent customer experience, you can comfortably ask your patients to become your brand advocates by leaving a review. Just follow these guidelines:
- Do not ask every patient for a review: In your team meetings, pull up the appointment diary and see who is coming in. Identify a few of your patients who appreciate your work and would be happy to leave a review.
- Train your staff members: However, do not set them up to fail by asking for lots of reviews. Instead, assign one of your team members to this job of asking for reviews and have them report on how it goes. With time, you will know which team members are good at this task. Set them up for success.
- Set a goal: If you are not comfortable with being direct, you can ask your patients to “help your practice reach reviews goal.” This small change may make it easier for your staff to bring up the matter.
- Offer an incentive, but not to patients: You can consider offering incentives to your team members. This may help them adjust asking for reviews in their schedules. You can consider giving out prizes as your practice reaches different milestones.
- Launch a review campaign: Instead of instructing or informing your team that you are looking to attract more reviews, you can consider creating an environment for success by making it a full-blown initiative. You must schedule a team meeting specifically for talking about reviews, progress and strategies. Online reviews can make your practice better, so make it a big deal.
Online reviews and HIPAA
Most healthcare providers are concerned about privacy laws dictated by HIPAA.
Broadly speaking, asking your patients for reviews is not a violation of healthcare privacy laws. However, if you are reaching out to patients via email or text, do so only with patients who have agreed to receive communications from you.
You must be very conscious of privacy laws when replying to online reviews posted about your practice. In other industries or businesses, it may be acceptable to respond to an incorrect review by reporting the facts. However, in the healthcare sector, you cannot risk violating patients’ privacy by revealing any information or details about them. So, do not hesitate to bite your tongue if a patient writes negative feedback about you online.
Most patients will write reviews about your practice, but only if you ask them to. The biggest obstacle is training your staff to ask for reviews. This is an obstacle worth handling, because patients put lots of trust into online reviews when choosing their medical practitioners.