Since its inception in 2004, Yelp has come a long way and is now listed as one of the most popular review websites. In this digital age, websites like Yelp are becoming increasingly important to the business of dentistry as patients share their experiences about dentists and services offered at their practices to help others make informed decisions.
No dentist will ever be able to deliver 100% patient satisfaction. There will always be some patients who are miffed about one thing or another. Before you even realize, they will hide behind their computers and snipe at you anonymously on physician-review websites like Yelp. Love it or hate it, the Internet never forgets anything and all these reviews will be around for the foreseeable future. Even if patients aren’t right in their negative opinions, their reviews always count. It has been observed by many dentists in the US that one single negative review about their practice can significantly knock it down. In the healthcare industry, a physician’s reputation is everything through which they develop trust and credibility. Negative reviews affect a dentist’s overall Yelp “star” rating and this is the first thing patients see next to your Yelp listing. What experiences other patients have had with you can influence others. While good reviews can bring in more patients to your dental practice, bad ones can scare potential and even existing patients away.
Tackle the reviews skilfully—always project a professional image
If you are a dentist practicing in today’s world of tech-savvy patients, you must be aware of the importance of having a positive digital reputation. The key to managing it is to address the voices of patients and resolve the issues they have posted through reviews on Yelp. You must stay thoroughly updated about what is being said about you online. If your online review management is strategically implemented, it can bring you more patients than your present count.
“Claim your business” at Yelp
It’s important for business holders to claim their account on Yelp. For this you’ll need to visit the “claim this business” option on Yelp and get your Yelp page activated. For replying to patient reviews, you will have to upload your real photograph that depicts your face clearly. Also, add here all the important information like your practice hours, dental services offered, phone numbers, staff details, website address, etc. Once you are done, you can pin a poster on your clipboard with a “Find us on Yelp” sign. Your patients might see the sign and post a positive review about your dental services.
3 pointers to remember while responding to reviews
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Responding to patient reviews is a great way to build goodwill and create credibility with your patients. Yelp allows physicians to respond to reviews, both publically and privately. However, this channel should be used wisely as it’s a blunt tool and sometimes good intentions may come across badly. While crafting a message to your customer, keep in mind these three things:
1. Your reviewers are your patients and paying customers.
2. They are human beings with (sometimes unpredictable) feelings and sensitivities.
3. Your reviewers are vocal and opinionated (otherwise they would not be writing reviews!).
To get the balance right, always remember to be proactive rather than reactive while responding to reviews. Yelp has come out with some guidelines to deal with the reviews, both positive and negative. With Yelp’s free response tools, dentists have a choice of responding publically or privately to patient reviews. While a private message allows you to connect directly to the reviewer by an email, a public response appears directly under a user’s review and is visible to all Yelp users. While responding to reviews, dentists should focus on fostering honest and open communication with patients. This will help build a positive doctor-patient relationship and may reduce negative reviews.
A word of caution: While handling negative online reviews, dentists should make sure that they always protect patient confidentiality and privacy. They could invite legal trouble for themselves if they disclose any detail about a patients’ medical condition, under the HIPAA regulations.
The Yelpification of healthcare has brought along many challenges for doctors and dentists. This phenomenon has changed the landscape of a doctor-patient relationship. Healthcare services have become more patient-centric and how people rate and review your practice sets perception in the mind of thousands of others who can be future patients at your practice. Mouse clicks that create the difference between a “three-star” and a “five-star” visit will definitely have an impact on your appointment book.