Dental reviews are the new word-of-mouth advertising. Studies show that people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and co-workers.
However, online reviews vary widely in their effectiveness and credibility. For instance, you might have read reviews for a product on Amazon or another site that boasted 500+ reviews. Did you read all of them? If so, did you notice a certain similarity between quite a few of those reviews? “Great product.” “Works as advertised.” “5 stars.”
It’s possible that some, or even many, of those similar reviews were fake. Just like “black hat” search engine optimization used to pack keywords onto every page of a website – until Google caught on and began penalizing those sites – fake reviews are regrettably widespread these days.
Since dentistry is, at its core, a trust-based business, you need to do everything you can to ensure that your reviews work for you, not against.
The Elements Of A Good Review
There’s no single, comprehensive definition of a good review, but it’s possible to isolate the most important elements. In short, those are genuineness, detail, and specificity.
A genuine online review is rarely free from grammatical mistakes. In addition, genuine reviews tend to ramble a bit and/or present events out of sequence; your patients are seldom professional writers. Finally, the review should feel genuine when read. Patients may mention their uncertainty, their fear, or something else that suggests that their experience wasn’t a walk in the park.
Obviously, there are exceptions to all of the above, but too many “perfect” reviews are a red flag.
Good reviews have enough detail that the reader can understand why the patient is happy, if not delighted, with the experience and outcome. “Robin is the best! I love seeing her” doesn’t tell the reader what service was performed and what issues were addressed or problems solved. By contrast, a review that talks about issues with brushing technique, plaque found and removed, or bleeding issues addressed allows the reader to understand why the reviewer posted.
Finally, specifics are important to a credible review. “They worked with me to make my care affordable” is good, but non-specific. “They already had a payment plan that was perfect for me and made it possible to get the new bridge I needed” is far more powerful. Similarly, specifics about procedures from the patient’s perspective add instant credibility.
Contrast what good dental reviews look like compared to, “Good practice, good prices, friendly people.” Or, “Very warm and understanding.” You’ll get those reviews, but they aren’t the ones that truly help attract new patients.
It’s Not Just The Reviewer.
When it comes to creating a favorable impression online, it’s just as important to respond to reviews as it is to receive them. Engagement is the name of the game in the online world, and responding in a timely and appropriate manner to reviews lets visitors see that patients are important to the practice as more than just a revenue source.
That can be a big ask for already busy dental practices, but it’s a vital part of your new patient attraction efforts. How your team manages reviews can be the difference between being seen as “just another dental practice” and “the right dental practice for me.”