Remember when your friends or relatives used to snail-mail picture postcards from their vacation destinations? In addition to a breathtaking or funny picture, almost all of them included the line, “Wish You Were Here.” And, a few lines from the sender about how great the resort or getaway was.
Or, the fact that it rained the entire time, the food was lousy, and the staff was rude.
Today, people are much more likely to send selfies attached to a text message, but the principle still holds: people who find something they really like and enjoy are likely to share with others. The same goes for sharing poor experiences.
For dentists, today’s “postcards” are online reviews, and this form of word-of-mouth advertising can make or break your practice.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know that your prospective new patients are likely to find you online. One of the first things they’ll do is check out your ratings on your website, Yelp, HealthGrades, and even Angie’s List.
And then they’ll read some of the reviews.
Now, sensible people will ignore the fact that it rained at a vacation destination; they know that rain happens. Sensible people will pay attention to poor lodgings, bad food, and indifferent staff.
Just as resorts can’t control whether it rains, there are some things dental practices can’t help. For instance, if you’re in an urban area, traffic may be tough and parking even tougher. But just like resorts, there are factors that are within your control.
This is where the entire patient experience comes into play, from initial contact with your online marketing to after-treatment follow-up. You want to give them nothing to complain about and everything to rave about, because today’s “postcards” potentially go to everybody.
Everything that your practice does online – social media posts, paid ads, YouTube, emails, your website – are part of the experience for potential patients. Now, patients aren’t looking for a dentist because they want to enjoy themselves; they want answers and solutions to their dental problems. But, they want to be comfortable in their decision. And that’s what your online marketing has to produce.
For instance, imagine a vacation destination’s website that made it difficult for users to find out cost, availability, or amenities. How many would simply go to another website rather than jump through hoops for information?
And how many of those people would first post a comment like, “Crappy website, couldn’t find out anything”?
Enhancing patients’ experiences with your practice continues through the first telephone or online appointment booking, the greeting when they walk into your office, the actual treatment experience, and all subsequent contacts. And the quality of those experiences – the value you provide – have to equal or exceed the perceived cost of using your services, or you risk a bad review.
Whether your practice is a “Motel 6” or the best resort on Maui, there’s a level of customer expectation that you must meet. Ideally, you’ll exceed their expectations. That’s how you’ll get “Wish You Were Here” online reviews and many more new patients.