When it comes to growing your practice, there is next to nothing as effective as a word-of-mouth referral. A recommendation could be the reason why a patient chooses your dental practice over another. So, how do you increase your word-of-mouth referrals, and boost your practice to trusted sources such as google reviews?
Why not ask patients what they want? That’s what Dental Economics and Officite did to find out from over 100 dental patients how they decide on a dentist, and the methods they use to conduct their searches. “The branding-free survey was conducted through Facebook, e-mail, and other channels, and none of the respondents were dentists, hygienists, clinicians, or in any way affiliated with dentistry, aside from receiving care.”1
Based on their results, word-of-mouth/referral from friends dominated in the tools used to make a decision on a new dentist. Respondents also noted that when using search engines, 89% prefer to use Google. The respondents were also asked, “Do you take referrals from friends/word-of-mouth at face value, or do you do additional online research?”; 57% indicated they take it at face value, and 43% indicated that they do additional online research.1
While word-of-mouth is a noticeable step above the rest for being an effective tool, it is important to take note that 43% of the surveyed still do additional online research even after a referral from a friend. Your practice will want to have a website that meets the content features that people look for when searching for additional information outside of their referral. Unsure what features people look for when searching for a new dentist online? Here’s a few of the responses from the Dental Economics survey.
When building your website with these important features keep in mind to have your hours clearly posted on your home page. Also, the images on your site ideally will be of you, your staff, and your office; keep stock images off your site, people want to see you and your beautiful office!
So, you have your website in “tip-top” shape and have patients who spread the word for you. What about online reviews? If you feel like your practice is lacking in your online review category, here are some tips put together by Dental Economics on how to get more 5-star online patient reviews, without nagging your patients.2 (see full article at link at the bottom of this blog).
- Organic method — Make sure your practice is listed on as many third-party sites as possible. This ensures patients can find you if they feel like writing reviews spontaneously.
- Links or clickable images on your site — Have something that patients who return to your site can click to write reviews.
- Single-page handouts — Prepare a sheet of instructions you can simply hand to patients that walks them through how to post a review.
- Personal e-mail — A simple e-mail with a polite request and a link can be effective. But personalize it—none of that “Dear Valued Patient” garbage. Also, consider a review link in your e-mail signature.
- Autoresponder e-mail — If you have your patients on an e-mail list through a service such as Demandforce or Solutionreach, you can have an e-mail request that goes out automatically.
- Snail-mail request — Although it involves a bit more work, people generally pay more attention to snail mail, especially if it’s personalized and from a practice they know and like.
- Video — A short walk-through video showing how to leave a review can be effective.
- Social media — Patients can write CitySearch reviews using their Facebook usernames, making it that much easier for everyone.
- QR code on a postcard — Hand out or send patients a postcard that asks them to review you by scanning a QR code. The code is linked to your Google Places or InsiderPages page.
- QR code as a sticker or decal — The sticker or decal can be placed anywhere in your office or store. Patients can scan it with their smartphones to review you on the spot.
- Phone call — It’s kind of old-fashioned, but effective with the right kind of patient.
- Part of a little gift you send patients — For example, you give out a pad of paper or fridge magnet with your logo and phone number…plus a request to leave you a quick review. The gift has to be something people see daily and actually use, making it a subtle but persistent reminder.
XLDent, with Lighthouse 360, gives you the ability to easily collect and post reviews from happy patients directly to all the top sites including your social media pages. It also includes utilization of RateABiz, which helps you showcase reviews and boost your practice’s rank in search results.
Once you have built a solid foundation of referrals/word-of-mouth and online reviews, you can use your XLDent software to track how your hard work is paying off. XLDent easily lets you be as specific as you want about where your referrals come from. There are reports to tell you the number of referrals you are seeing each month, such as:
- Referral Source Listing
- Referral Source Detail Listing Report
- Referral Source Summary Listing Report
All of these reports have different features and views, we suggest looking at each and finding what works best for your practice. If you find that these reports are not showing exactly what you want, give us a call and we can create a custom report for you.
We hope these tips will help you build your patient referrals and online reviews! Stay tuned for more tips on growing your practice in our upcoming blogs.
1Dental Economics, “How to attract new patients (according to new patients)”, By: Kevin Rach, April 19, 2016
2Dental Economics, “Get more 5-star online patient reviews without bugging or nagging your patients”, By: Graig Presti, February 8, 2017