Scroll down for a transcript of today’s show — You know you need reviews online for your dental practice, but how do you get them? What’s the easiest, fastest way to get more Yelp reviews and Google reviews? Which systems really matter? And above all, what really works?
In this episode of Your Dental Marketing Department, we cover those topics and more.
If you would like to download a free copy of the review request form that we use, you can download it here: ReviewRequestTemplate
——– Transcript Of Today’s Show ——–
Good morning, and welcome to another episode of Your Dental Marketing Department. This Jared, and this is your podcast for all things dental, marketing and business related, and some things that aren’t as well. Today I want to talk about getting reviews. I actually had a phone call this morning with a dentist who is in the process of leaving his home state, moving to my state of Oregon, and we got on the topic of how to get reviews these days. I think it’s a pretty valid topic and it’s something that matter’s a lot to dentists and there’s not a lot of instruction on the best way to go about doing it. So today we’ll go over some of the ways to get reviews, some of the ways to not get reviews, and some good practices on treating your patients and how to get your patients to give you those reviews. But before we get to that we’re going to do our Cool New Stuff.
This week’s Cool Stuff is called Automatic. You can find it at automatic.com and it’s actually a smart driving assistant. Nothing to do with dentistry; I just think it’s really cool. It turns your smart phone into a computer for your car. It works on most cars, it says, since 1996 and later. It basically does all kinds of metrics on your car. It will give you feedback on your driving, on your braking, on if you speed to much. It will actually score the trips that you take. It will give you a timeline on your trips. It can call automatically if you get in an accident. It can actually do some stuff to maintain your engine health and check on that. It can help you find your car, help you actually find it, like if you parked it in a big parking lot and you have trouble finding your car, they claim that they can help you find that, as well. It’s a little, tiny dongle that you plug into the car and you use your smart phone with bluetooth to be able to be able to sync it together. It’s a pretty neat little thing. It’s on pre-order right now, I believe. You can get it at automatic.com, or check it out there. As of today, it says the preorder is 69.95 to order it. I’m not sure exactly when it’s coming out. I just found this the other day and thought it looks really cool, so if it’s something you’re interested in, there’s no subscription. It’s supposed to come out in May, it says, May 2013. It works with iPhones and Android. So check it out, automatic.com, if that sounds like something you’re interested in. That’s our Cool Stuff this week.
So I want to talk this week a little bit about getting reviews for your dental practice. We all know that reviews are a vital portion of your dental practice, that by some measurements now patients will search ten times for a dentist before they make a decision, and if they search ten times, you know where they’re searching. They’re looking to see what other people are saying about your practice. The biggest sources for reviews these days are Yelp and Google. There are a lot of other ones as well, but those are the two biggest reviews sources and the two main sources where people are going to look for these things, so we’re going to focus mainly on Google and Yelp when we talk about how to get reviews.
Before we talk about how to get them, I want to talk about how not to get them. One of the things that I see is that people want a quick fix. They want to know the fastest way to get a review, they want to automate it, and they want to make it easy. I’m right there with you; it’s exactly the way I tried to do it as well, and the first system that I set up when I created my system for my practices was to put direct links in to the review section of Google and Yelp and send it out via email a couple of days after the patient came in to the office. They would click on that link, they would leave a review, and guess what? Yelp filtered them all and Google started to filter them all out as well. So I got all these great reviews. You can actually go on to one of my Yelp pages and I think I have 30 filtered reviews. They’re all five star reviews and they’re all filtered out, which is definitely not what you want. So I realize that Yelp and Google don’t want you to direct people and solicit the reviews. They want it to be natural. They want somebody who’s already using Yelp that goes to your practice to leave a review on Yelp for other people that use Yelp. They don’t want people to set up a new Yelp page just because you asked them to– or a new Yelp account, and click on the link that you gave them and leave one review and never go on Yelp again. It’s kind of self defeating and it’s not the whole purpose of Yelp, which is that a community of people leave a review. It’s frustrating. For me, it’s very frustrating because I want things to be automatic and I want things to be easy and I want to control it. Yelp doesn’t want you to be able to control the reviews that you get, so I totally understand where they’re coming from. The best I can figure– because they won’t reveal how they filter things– the best I can figure is that if you’re giving someone a direct link to your review page, Yelp can track that. They can see that they clicked directly on to your review page and they’re going to filer those out. The other thing that they tend to filter out is Yelpers that do not use the system very often. So if you set up a new account and leave one review, Yelp will tend to think that you are only doing it on behalf of the business that you visited and they will filter that review until you leave more reviews for other businesses. So if you start using Yelp regularly and you leave a lot of reviews, your review might become unfiltered and show up in the normal business listing.
If you’re not familiar with Yelp, it’s just yelp.com and it’s a review system for all kinds of businesses, not just dentistry. It’s used a lot in dentistry and in restaurants, though and those are two of their primary segments. So if you’re not on Yelp and you don’t have a listing set up on Yelp, it’s free. You should definitely have one, have a business listing set up there. A lot of people go there to check out what other people are saying, get comments, reviews, get a little bit more information about your business. They’re in most major markets now in the United States, so you should have no problem having a business set up within your area.
So with Yelp, you really need people to leave you reviews there if they regularly use Yelp, and you need them to get there on their own. So, how can you best go about that? It’s the same situation with Google, except that Google doesn’t seem– A.) They don’t show you the filtered reviews, so you have no idea how many reviews they’ve actually filtered. The other thing with Google is they don’t seem to have any issue with people that don’t leave reviews often. You could leave one review ever, leave it on Google, and Google tends to show those reviews. Google tends to, the best I can figure, filter it out if you have a direct link on to the Google review page. So it’s very similar to Yelp. A little more flexible, but you don’t want to be giving people a direct link on to those review pages.
Now, the system I use, because I want to solicit reviews, I want people to see and I want honest reviews. If somebody didn’t have a good experience, I do want to know about that. I’d prefer they tell me than just leave a bad review on line, but if we have issues, I need to figure it out too because if you’ve got 50 patients who all say you have bad customer service, you know, you might want to take a look at your customer service and see if there’s some systems and some things that you can change within your practice. So, it is good feedback and it is ok to have negative reviews on your site. It tends to be that if you have 30 positive reviews on your site and none of them are negative– they’re all five star reviews on Yelp– it loses a little bit of credibility. What are the odds that you’re perfect every single time? They’re not very good. Now, you don’t want to have a whole bunch of negative reviews, but the fact of the matter is, somebody’s going to have a bad day, somebody’s going to leave a bad review, and that’s ok. You don’t have to respond to it; you don’t have to react to it. It just happens. Nobody’s perfect, and that’s ok. Overwhelm any of the negative reviews with lots of good, strong, positive reviews and you’ll be just fine. It’ll actually add some credibility to your reviews on that site that we’re talking about, whether it’s Yelp, Google, or any other site.
So when I do this, what I’ve switched to now is I’m going to talk about our emergency practice and we have an automated system. At the end of each new patien visit, we put the patient in to our patient email list with their approval. We get their approval before they even see the doctor and get treated. We ask them if we can send them emails. We put them into our email list. One week after their visit– and this is an emergency practice, so these patients came in with pain– we send them an email that says something along the lines of, “I hope you had a good experience when you came in last week. I hope that we took care of your tooth pain. If there’s anything we can do to make your experience better, please let us know. If you’re having any issues or any pain, please let us know; we’ll be happy to help. We hope that you’ve had a chance to go on to one of the websites and leave a review for us. If you’re a regular Yelper (use the language, by the way, that they actually use. People who use Yelp are called Yelpers) if you could go on to Yelp and search for On Demand Dentist in San Diego, California and leave us a positive review, or leave us an honest review, we would greatly appreciate it. If you don’t use Yelp, but do use Google, if you could go to Google Plus and search for On Demand Dentist San Diego and leave us an honest review there, we would appreciate that, as well. If we didn’t meet your expectations, please let us know so we can take care of it as soon as possible. Thank you very much, we greatly appreciate your time.” And then we sign it with all the doctors. Now this email goes out about a week after their procedure. We also give them a piece of paper. Notice there’s no links in that email. We also give them a piece of paper with their new patient folder that says something very similar. “Thank you for trusting us with your care; we appreciate it. Your honest reviews mean the world to us. If you’re a Yelper and can visit Yelp and leave us a review. You can search for On Demand Dentist in San Diego. Or if you are a regular Google user, if you could go onto Google Plus and search and leave us a review, we’d greatly appreciate it. If there’s anything we can do to improve your experience please let us know ahead of time, so we can take care of it.” So we send that as a paper version as well. It’s kind of a thank you letter that we put right in the front of their new patient packet so they see it, and we follow that up with the email a week later. You’re not going to get swarmed with great, positive reviews because of this, but you will get honest reviews, and you will get a moderate amount of reviews this way. It is an automated system, and it does work.
If you wanted to get more reviews, you could actually add more steps into that process to reinforce it. The bottom line is, if you ask for reviews, people will typically leave them if it’s convenient when they get that information. So, we put it in paper form because we hope that when they get home, they sit down at the computer and leave a review. Or maybe they do it on their phone, or wherever else they happen to go. We send it to them in the email because we know that they’re on a digital device– and electronic device– when they get that email. So they are technically in a position to be able to leave a review at that point in time. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to. If they read it on their phone, I still believe that in Yelp you can’t leave a review from your phone; you have to do it from the computer. So it’s not always going to happen, but the more you ask, the more likely it is. Just don’t be obnoxious and ask them 50 times. If they don’t want to leave a review, maybe it’s because they don’t want to leave a bad review for you, or maybe it’s because they don’t use those systems and they don’t really like leaving reviews. That’s ok. You’re not going to get 100% reviews back from all of your patients. What I don’t recommend is putting any kind of links directly on to your page. I know it’s more convenient. I know it removes a barrier. But it’s not going to help you get those reviews through the filtering system, so it’s not the best way to go.
Now, I want to talk a little bit about Demand Force and some of the other review solicitation sites. You can actually read a review that I wrote a long time ago about Demand Force on our website, bigdiastema.com. Just type in Demand Force review in to Google and you’ll probably find us as well. I wrote the review because I wasn’t really thrilled with the way that their service worked at the time. This was right around the time when Google stopped incorporating Demand Force reviews into their rating process. Long before Google Pluse, if Demand Force got you 256 reviews, they would show up as 256 reviews in Google. The problem is, is Yelp got mad because Google was taking Yelp reviews and incorporating them into the Google reviews system as well, and Yelp made Google stop doing that. Google said, “Fine, then we’re not going to take in anybody’s. We’ll only generate our own.” And all of the sudden Demand Force’s were no longer showing on Google. There were some more steps in between, but that is essentially what happened. So, the review solicitation services don’t really work anymore the way they used to. It used to be a great way to go out and get reviews. I haven’t used Demand Force in a long time. They’ve made a lot of changes, I’m sure. You can always check them out for yourself, but I do recommend that, if you’re interested in Demand Force, take a look at my review at bigdiastema.com and read the comments underneath the review. Because a lot of those comments are from other doctors who have used them more recently, and had different experiences from what I had. Some positive, some negative, but you’ll get a good idea and a good overview. I don’t think you need to pay for an automated system to get you reviews. I think you can do it yourself within your practice.
That brings me to my Cool Tip This Week. This week, my cool tip is to have your receptionist or your new patient coordinator– whoever does your confirmation calls– have that person also do follow up calls about three or four days after an appointment and check in on the patient and ask for a review. It’s a great way to touch that patient with one more method. You’ve given them a hard copy on a piece of paper, you’re calling them, and the you’ll follow up with an email after that. You’ve hit them on all three levels. If you ask them over the phone, you can even say, “If you need help finding it I can hang on the line while you search for our site on Yelp, or while you search for our site on Google.” You don’t want to be pushy about it but if you can touch somebody that way, you might get a few more reviews. You already have your employee working on doing the confirmation calls for the next day’s appointments, so do ahead and have them call on yesterday’s or a couple days ago’s appointments as well. So that’s my Cool Tip This Week.
Getting reviews is vital in dentistry. It’s not something you can overlook. It’s not something you have to over think, though, either. You don’t need a great system; you don’t need to go pay somebody else to do it. I’m actually going to put up a copy of the letter that I use for my patients on the post for this podcast. So if you want to go to bigdiastema.com and go to the podcast section you can find today’s podcast there and I will put a downloadable copy of the email or the letter that we use and you’re welcome to edit it and use it as you see fit for your practice, so I’d encourage you to do that. Again, it’s bigdiastema.com. Click on the podcast section and go to this episode and we will have a link there that you’ll be able to download that from to help you out. It’s not something you should overlook. It’s definitely something you can do within your practice. Don’t expect to get 300 reviews in the next week; it’s not realistic and it’s not going to happen anyway unless you start really soliciting all your old patients for reviews. That’s really frowned upon by Google and Yelp, so I wouldn’t encourage you to go that route anyway. It’s definitely something that if you start incorporating it, you’ll start to get those reviews; you’ll start to build up a good reputation, and you’re also doing it the right way. You’re not trying to cheat the system. I’m a big believer in not trying to cheat the system when it comes to internet marketing. If you cheat the system now, the system will change and the system will shut you out later. So do it ethically, do it honestly, go about it the right way and you’ll get the right results.
So, I hope this has been a good podcast for you this week. This is Jared with your dental marketing department. You can find us online at bigdiastema.com and we’ll see you in the next podcast.