By Janelle Davison, OD
Oct. 27, 2021
Online reviews often provide a first impression to prospective patients. Even when a business, like an eye doctor’s office, has been recommended by a friend or family member, it is only natural these days to hop online to see what others think of the eye doctor.
For that reason, my practice has taken a proactive approach to generating online reviews, and provides the kind of experience that has resulted in an average 4.8 star rating on Google Reviews. Here is how we do it.
Focus on Where Patients Are Likely to Look
The main site where I concentrate on asking patients for reviews is Google Reviews because those are the reviews patients see when they do a Google search and my practice name comes up. What’s more, having a large number of highly rated reviews makes a business come up higher in the search listings when a patient types in a search like “eye doctor near me.” So far, we have 500 reviews on Google, which has resulted in my practice often being the first to come up for those searching for an eye doctor near where I practice in Smyrna, Ga., outside of Atlanta.
It’s important for business owners to claim their business profile on Google. That involves both confirming that you are a legitimate business by e-mail and through a snail mail confirmation card that is sent to your office. There are many reasons why you should claim your business profile on Google, including ensuring accurate information is presented to the public about your practice, and because doing so boosts your practice higher in the search listings.
In addition to Google Reviews, I monitor reviews left about my practice on Facebook Reviews and Yelp, where you have the option of paying a monthly fee to have the best reviews appear at the top of the search listings for your business, or even to not have the bad reviews appear at all. I choose not to pay for services with Yelp.
Keep It Genuine
My philosophy is not to pay to manipulate the number of good reviews that appear for users of the review sites. We also never ask a review site user to delete a negative review of our business after we have resolved the issue with them. The rare times a negative review appears, which we are able to address and resolve with the user who posted it, the user often decides on their own to take it down. However, if they don’t take it down, we let the review stand.
It’s important to realize that every business, no matter how great, will inevitably get a negative review now and then. Those reviews are sometimes from people who have never visited the business, and are simply responding to what others have posted, or the infrequent negative review can be from a patient, whom you know to be a chronic complainer who you will never make happy.
Other Articles to Explore
When my staff and I note a negative complaint that stems from something we did wrong, or from a way in which we fell short, we reach out to the patient to turn their experience around. However, when we recognize that the negative review is not fixable or valid, we let it stand and get swallowed up by the overwhelming number of positive reviews.
About 90 percent of the time, I am the one who monitors, and, when necessary, responds to negative reviews. The other 10 percent of the time it is my office manager or my husband, who serves as my practice’s chief operating officer, that monitors and responds.
When prospective patients see 100 percent positive reviews for a business, it can come across as inauthentic. The person searching for an eye doctor becomes suspicious that the practice owner paid to have only the positive reviews appear, or somehow had all the negative reviews removed.
Make it Easy For Patients With Positive Experiences to Post Reviews
While I never pay to manipulate reviews, and don’t insist on removing negative reviews, I do all I can to encourage patients who love our office to post reviews.
We use a technology, PatientPop, which costs us $750 monthly, that automatically sends all patients, who have visited our office in the previous few days, a survey by text message and e-mail. One simple question is asked: “Were you satisfied with your visit?” If the patient responds, “Yes,” a message then appears asking the patient if they could share their positive experience with others by posting a review of our office on Google Reviews, with a link the patient can click on that takes them directly to a page where they can post their review.
If the patient responds, “No,” that they were not satisfied with their experience in our office, they receive a message that asks for more information about their experience, and then sends a notification to our office that a patient had a bad experience. If their issue, such as an incorrect glasses order, or a wait time before their appointment that was too long, is one where we were at fault, we reach out to apologize and find a way to redress. If the complaint is nonsense–from a person we know to be a chronic complainer–we ignore it. For example, we have a man who visits our practice every year, who regardless of his experience, finds something to complain about. Last year, the patient, who has glaucoma, complained that he did not like taking the visual fields test.
Patients who reply on the survey that they had a negative experience, are not sent the secondary message asking them to leave a review about their experience in our office. Having the system alert us to the problematic visit instead gives us a chance to get ahead of the situation, so most of the time, those patients do not feel the need to look on their own for a review site where they can vent. We get in touch and give them a chance to vent directly to us.
With the right process for encouraging positive reviews, you can ensure patients find you first online, and like what they see when they find you.