Online dental reviews are changing the game for dental practice marketing. Customers turn to reviews now more than ever when making decisions about which dental practice to visit. In fact, according to Search Engine Land, searches for reviews and information about physicians and dentists have increased from 21 percent to 27 percent just from 2010, and that number is likely to continue growing. That means sites like Yelp and Healthgrades can end up making an enormous difference in the long-term success of a practice. Dental practices are not powerless when it comes to reviews. There are ways for you to effectively monitor and manage your reviews.

Approaching online reviews as a marketing tool

Monitor Dental Reviews

Patients will be seeking the reviews with increasing frequency; so gaining some fantastic reviews online will be an immensely powerful marketing tool. Visit the major platforms, including Yelp, Google+, Healthgrades, RateMDs, and Vitals, claim the profiles and fill them out as fully as possible. When allowed, upload pictures of the practice and fill in background information about the practitioners. Encourage your patients to review your practice online when they visit your office.

Monitoring the reviews

You should make a habit of regularly checking for new reviews. Setting up Google Alerts can be a wonderful way to check for mentions of the practice across the web in general. Search social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook for mentions using tools such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck. Online review monitoring services, such as Reputation.com and Review Trackers, can also be excellent investments for monitoring review sites themselves.

Responding to negative reviews

When a patient leaves a bad review, it is important not to panic. Instead, you should focus on addressing the complaint with the patient directly.

Contact the patient and say you are disappointed they did not have a good experience. Discuss with them the nature of their complaints and see if they can be corrected. If the situation can be rectified, request that the patient remove the poor review.

The practice should also address the review online. Do not get into a battle with the patient or be defensive, this is not the appropriate place to try and explain a particular position. Instead, give an apology and restate the practice’s commitment to the highest level of patient care. If you have taken steps to amend the situation but the reviewer does not want to remove their initial impression, then you can add a response saying that you are happy the situation was resolved and that you hope the patient will return again soon.

Positively replying to negative reviews can actually be a great advertising feature for dental practices. Patients appreciate it when practices take the time to review patients’ experiences and live up to their commitment for customer satisfaction.

Overall, online reviews have become an important part of digital marketing for the entire dental industry. With this in mind, your practice should be actively finding reviews, monitor them, and respond to negative impressions to keep your online reputation competitive in the market.