How Online Reviews Actually Bring In New Patients
When it comes to healthcare, your patients have a choice. Whether they go to the practice down the street or in another city entirely, most areas have a large selection of dentists, orthodontics, and other healthcare professionals.
To illustrate the amount of choices that people have, in 2004 there was a survey performed that showed that Idaho had .577 dentists per 1,000 people, making it 20th in the United States in dental ratio. Although this may seem on the higher end of the spectrum, it is actually below the weighted average of .6 dentists per 1,000 people nationwide. To give a local example, In 2004, the population of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was 38,249, which would mean that we had about 20 dentists in Coeur d’Alene. Doing a local search for Dentists in Coeur d'Alene on April 1, 2016 brought up more than 40 local listings, and that doesn’t include the dentists that can be found by driving a few short minutes to Hayden, Post Falls, or even Spokane Washington.
What Are People Looking For?
With all of these options, how are people making their decisions? What drives a patient to choose your practice over your competition? It’s no secret that people are going online to do research, but what they are looking for may come as a surprise.
A recent study by Bright Local about consumer reviews for local businesses showed the following stats:
- 92% of consumers now read online reviews (vs. 88% in 2014)
- 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just 1-3 reviews
- Only 13% of consumers consider using a business that has a 1 or 2 star rating
- Star rating is #1 factor used by consumers to judge a business
Not only is pretty much everyone reading your online reviews, but the star rating, or the summary of the all your reviews, is the number one factor they use to rate your business. And even if your reviews are mixed, 40% of your potential patients are going to make up their mind after only reading 1-3 of them. If that's the case, hopefully they only read the good ones.
Make Your First Impression Count!
All of this means that you have very little time to influence people reading reviews, and if the first things they see make them nervous, it is likely that they have already formed a negative opinion of your practice. And no matter how many mailers you send or how many incentives and promotions you offer, if they have a negative impression of your brand, it is highly unlikely that they will choose you over one of your competitors.
If you don’t already know what your reviews look like, go find out! You may be surprised by what you find, and what you may not find. If you don’t know where to look, let me suggest a few places to check first.
This is probably the first place people will look for your business. Just do a search for your practice name, and see what information comes up. You will generally see a map or local listing, with your business name, your reviews, as well as the address, phone number and website. You may also have a Google my business account, where you can look over reviews and respond to both positive and negative reviews that you may have. If you haven't claimed your account, or if you arent checking it regularly, you may have negative reviews that actually keep people from calling your business.
Yelp has become more popular over the years for medical practitioners. To look for your business, just do a search on the top bar for your business name, and your city. When you click on your name, you should see all visible reviews below, as well as the star rating at the top of the page, just under your practice name. If you do not see any reviews, look below and see if there is something that says "# of reviews that are not currently recommended". Yelp may filter reviews based on how many reviews that person has left, if that review does not meet Yelp standards, and a lot of other non-sensible reasoning that Yelp does at it’s own digression. While you cannot easily sway Yelp reviews, you should be aware of what is there and if you have any hidden reviews. If you own your Yelp business account, you can also respond to reviewers.
While this may get overlooked, Healthgrades is a physician specific review site that is easy for patients to leave reviews, and a very trusted source for those looking for healthcare providers. Because Healthgrades makes it easy to leave reviews, it is can be impossible to find out who may have left a negative review unless they leave any identifying information with a note about their experience. While you may not be able to find out who has left the review, it does allow people to leave reviews about some of the specifics of your practice, such as ease of scheduling appointments, staff friendliness, office environment, specifics about the level of care provided, and more.
Because these reviews help you to stand out, it’s not enough just to respond to negative reviews, but to proactively try to get positive reviews. Not only will it make you look that much better, but it is actually a ranking factor that Google uses in determining position in the local pack listings, as well as organic search results.
You should try to get reviews on many different sites, as some people will check healthgrades first, while others may see your reviews on Google or Yelp based on the search engine they use. Just like you wouldn't spend your entire marketing budget for one single mailer, you shouldn’t only get reviews on one website. You want to make sure you have a stellar reputation, no matter what service potential patients use to find you.
We Are Here to Help
While all of this is relatively simple in theory, work like this takes time. From finding negative reviews, responding to customers and making sure that you are actively getting new reviews for providing amazing service, you could spend a lot of time doing an effective job. Your time is valuable. At Market Igniter, we can help you by identifying the reviews you have online, helping your staff in responding to reviews, as well as actively seeking reviews from current patients. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you with your reputation management, read more here, or give us a call at (208) 473-2155 and we can schedule a brief presentation to show you how we can help you to get the reviews that you deserve.