While patient referrals were once the tried-and-true method to grow your dental practice, people today are increasingly looking at online reviews to guide them in finding a new practitioner. Tech-savvy patients are sharing their experiences on sites such as Google, Facebook, and Yelp, and their words can have a major impact on the success or challenges of a business.

Dentist reviews impact patient numbers because people trust other patients' experiences. According to a BrightLocal report, 9 in 10 consumers scan digital reviews for local businesses. Of the industries for which consumers are most likely to use reviews, dentistry ranks sixth. Further, 4 in 5 say online ratings carry as much weight as recommendations from family and friends.

If you aren't already, now is the time to start online review management and let your patients' own words help you grow your practice.

Improve your patients' experience.

Start with the customers you have. Review sites offer an invaluable platform for you to connect with your existing patients and ensure they have an experience they're happy with. By tapping into constructive feedback, you can determine:

  • Patient perceptions: Are patients kept waiting too long in the lobby? Do they feel welcome at your practice? Are they happy with the way dental procedures and costs are explained? Reviews allow you to assess your practice through the eyes of your patients.
  • Ways to elevate the experience: A bigger smile and attentive service won't always land you five stars. Feedback reveals what your patients really care about and where you should prioritize service improvements, such as more payment methods or convenient online appointment booking.
  • Where you stand: Patients often compare experiences from different providers, giving you an idea of how your business is performing against the competition.

Boost confidence—and patient numbers.

Just reading reviews isn't enough. Make sure you always respond to the online reviews you receive. Responses earn trust and strengthen your reputation as a professional who cares about your patients. A Google report found that 76% of people trust businesses that respond to reviews, while only 46% trust those that don't.

Your patients appreciate knowing you take their feedback seriously and are more likely to leave positive reviews. The best dentist reviews can:

  • Provide public proof that the patients at your practice are happy with your services.
  • Reassure customers that you will handle their specific needs with professionalism and courtesy, as you've done with others.
  • Increase your search engine ranking, making your practice easier to find. According to a report by IronMonk, 18.4% of people simply book with the dentist appearing at the top of search engine results.
  • Expand customer reach when you promote great reviews on social media.

Good reviews net new customers who leave new good reviews. This loop is important because, as the BrightLocal report states, 86% of consumers only look at those from the previous three months.

Secure your reputation.

Showing gratitude for the best dentist reviews is easy, but how should you respond to complaints? Dealing with negative feedback is part and parcel of the online review management process. Failure to address issues can erode trust in your practice or discourage new customers.

Some best practices for responding to negative reviews include the following:

  • Respond quickly but after you've investigated the patient's complaint.
  • Take the conversation offline if you need direct conversation, but make sure to still respond to the review.
  • Engage the reviewer with a genuine and positive response that shows you hear their feedback.
  • Be consistent in your responses and avoid template answers.

According to Software Advice, spending even just 10 minutes a week to establish your online presence and respond to feedback can reduce the impact of negative reviews by 70%. Addressing a complaint with professionalism and empathy shows that you value your customers. It could even turn a disgruntled patient into a loyal regular.

Managing reviews the easy way.

Taking charge of your reputation requires work, but an online review management tool can streamline the process. It alerts you to reviews as they come in, so you can read and respond to them in one place and identify trends in your reviews. It provides an overall review score too, making it easier to monitor changes to your reputation over time. The best tools can send out automatic feedback requests to keep the dialogue with your customers going.

When you make it a habit to process online feedback, you'll build trust with prospective patients from the start and convert leads into appointments.

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