Asking for Reviews

The following is a contribution by Shawn Van de Vyver DDS, of Great Lakes Dentistry in Shelby Township, Michigan, and creator of AutoFrontOffice.com.

"In this digital age, many patients are finding out about a dental practice by searching Google. A few years ago, Google would rank results based on the search engine optimization (S.E.O.) built within websites. In other words, website developers would optimize a website by adding articles, pictures, and videos that explain relevant terms that someone might use when searching for a business. The more S.E.O. in a website, the more likely it would appear higher in a Google search.

But things have changed. Now, Google, and other sites, have algorithms so advanced that the S.E.O. isn’t the only criteria used to determine what websites are the highest ranked and most relevant to the person searching. S.E.O. is becoming less important to those search results. What is becoming ever more important is the online reputation of a business. Google knows that websites with a bunch of keywords and content aimed at optimizing the search engine algorithm aren’t necessarily the best result for what people are searching for. Online reputation is an indication, social proof, that offices and physical locations are exactly what are being sought out.

Online reviews are the digital representation of your reputation. Even though reviews can only be submitted and published online it is still our responsibility as business owners and service providers to request that feedback from our own customers.”

Thanks to Dr. Van de Vyver, we understand that in order to stand out in Google searches, we need to do more than just have a well made and active website. We need a constant stream of reviews. So, how does an office get those reviews? The simple answer is to ask a happy patient to review the office after a successful visit. This simple answer, however, isn’t always so simple. Some team members don’t have the confidence to ask patients to leave a positive review. Some team members have a lot on their plate and may forget to ask. Many team members aren’t sure where to direct patients to leave reviews. At times, an office encounters a negative review. Sometimes those negative reviews are valid and sometimes they are not.

Recently, I’ve come across a solution that address these concerns–Auto Front Office.
Dr. Van De Vyver created a fantastic program called, Auto Front Office (autofrontoffice.com).

Here’s more from him again.

“We can have services send emails and text messages to prompt our patients to leave reviews, but those services will be ineffective and a waste of money if you aren’t interacting with your patients face-to-face.Part of your team protocol and office procedure manual should be scripts for intra-team hand offs and patient dismissals. Those scripts should always include reminders that your office takes your reputation seriously and encourage your patients to leave online reviews and honest feedback.

This accomplishes two big goals, in our practice.

First, you’re creating a reviews culture among your team and patients. You want everyone to know that reviews aren’t only for new fangled gadgets and restaurants. They’re for dental offices, too. When you incorporate reviews into your daily (probably HOURLY!) scripts for handing off and dismissing patients you’re reinforcing the idea that you encourage feedback about your business and it will prompt patients to TAKE ACTION by actually spending the time to leave a review.

Secondly, and probably a more important consequence of implementing a daily “feedback ask” script, is that you receive nearly immediate feedback on how you can improve your office. When our team asks every patient to leave us honest feedback, that puts us all in a “service” mentality and the whole office improves, from the front office to the back office to the doctors delivering treatment.

The goal (by asking for feedback and receiving more reviews” isn’t actually to get more reviews. The real goal, in my mind for my practice, is to improve my level of service and provide better experiences for my patients. They’ll in turn refer more patients and provide the social proof to be a dominant business in my area.

By having the reviews culture in my office, we are all more aware of the kind of service we are providing to all our patients and we make better decisions because of it. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t automate the reviews acquisition process. Quite the opposite. When things get busy and we’re ring on all cylinders, we might not remember to ask our patients for feedback. That’s where automatic texting and email comes in.

We’ve given our patients the heads up that we like getting reviews and we encourage leaving feedback (although we admit, we like getting 5-star reviews the BEST!) but we haven’t told them where to go and post online. That’s where automated services pick up the slack.

Auto Front Office automatically sends the patient an email after the appointment gets set ‘complete’ in your practice management software. If they don’t respond to the email, the patient gets a text message prompting them to leave feedback.

It’s a pretty simple, but effective, service that should only act as a reminder to patients that your office wants and appreciates honest feedback. You and your team should do most of the heavy lifting in person. But for those times when we might forget or drop the ball, automatic digital solutions like Auto Front Office can pick up the slack.”