Last year, the folks at the Dental Anywhere blog surveyed 2,200 Yelp reviews at 100 Southern California dental offices.
For those of you not familiar, Yelp is a review website where people can rate various businesses on a 1 to 5 scale. It’s extremely popular in Southern California; here in Southern Indiana, not so much.
But this study gives us a good idea of the issues patients have with their dentists. It also is important because of Yelp’s reach.
According to the Boston Consulting Group, 90% of locals said positive ratings influence their decision to visit or buy from a business, and 72% said they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from their friends and family.
This is word-of-mouth advertising in the Internet age.
The folks at Dental Anywhere compiled a list of the top 10 complaints people have with their dentist. The first five are:
- Lack of consent.
Ten percent of Yelp reviews complained of procedures scheduled, started or billed without an explanation or giving consent. Is this an issue of buyer’s remorse on the part of patients or are there some dentists out there trying to squeeze patients for more money?
A big part of this is probably simple miscommunication. The doc and patient weren’t on the same page about the procedure.
Having a good prospect-education program that includes free reports, books and seminars would be a good way to reduce this number. That way more pre-qualified patients are coming to see you already educated about solutions to their dental problems.
- New patient appointments.
Eleven percent of Yelp reviews complained that they were unaware that the new patient appointment/consultation did not include a cleaning, and that they would have to return (miss more work) to have that done.
This sounds like an expectation issue. However those new patients made that appointment, whether online or by calling a receptionist, that patient thought they were getting a service that wasn’t included.
What can be done?
Well, your website can make it clear what will happen during a new patient consult. And your scheduler can be sure to tell anyone who calls for the new patient appointment that the first visit is just a consult and not a cleaning, which will be scheduled following the initial appointment.
This is, of course, if a dentist doesn’t want to change his or her policy and start including a cleaning in that initial visit.
- Aggressive sales pitches.
Seeing that makes some of you really twitchy. You already don’t like have to “sell” to customers and having them complain about it won’t make you feel any better.
Thirteen percent of Yelp reviews of three stars or less explicitly mentioned aggressive sales tactics such as upselling and being besieged by emails and sales calls.
Truthfully, this doesn’t make us happy either. This makes everyone, including those us on the marketing side, look bad.
But here is the same advice that we give our clients: only present legitimate options that could solve your patients’ needs. There is nothing unethical about telling a patient with crooked teeth that Invisalign or Six Month Smiles could solve that problem, and then giving them the benefits.
We use an automated marketing process that ensures the prospect or patient agrees to receive emails from our clients.
- Rough touch/heavy-handed.
Ouch, literally. Sixteen percent of negative reviews said the dentist hurt them, adding to their dental fear.
That is bad, bad, bad.
Fear of pain is the number one reason people don’t visit the dentist. If you get a reputation as a rough dentist, attracting new patients with dental fear will be extremely difficult.
Perhaps these dentists should look into offering – and using – some forms of sedation.
These are two of the worst things that could be said about a dentist. Work hard not to have these said about you.
- No billing transparency.
Sixteen percent of Yelp reviewers complained their bill wasn’t clear and they weren’t sure what services were being collected for.
This is likely a combination of problems and likely is not limited to the dental industry. Anybody who deals with insurance is probably going to have this problem.
The frustrating thing for you is this isn’t really something you can control. The paperwork from your office may or may not be clear, and you can’t control how savvy the patient is about reading bills.
In my next post, we’ll discuss the other five reasons why your patients complain online.