Picture this: you go online looking to find a reliable medical service—say a new dentist—and the first site you come across has no patient reviews whatsoever. The second site you visit, however, has a number of mixed reviews, some of them positive, others negative. Which dentist are you most likely to choose?
Most people will favor the dentist with mixed reviews because, despite the presence of negative reviews left by previous patients, they are still more preferable to the dentist that has no reviews whatsoever. To them, the dentist with no reviews either hasn’t had any clients yet—and is therefore inexperienced—or simply doesn’t care what patients think of his/her practice.
This is a clear indication that people value patient reviews, simply because they help them understand what to expect when they opt for a particular service. It’s not just restricted to medical services either; people choose restaurants, gyms, hotels, airports, and even banks based on the reviews they get. A lack of reviews deprives them of the opportunity to make an informed choice, simply because there is no information to go by.
Medical practices should understand that collecting patient reviews is just as important as gathering patients’ insurance information. Front offices are especially encouraged to incentivize patients to leave reviews because the statistics are otherwise worrying. It is true that:
• Giving patients just two options increases their chances of leaving a review from 0.1 percent to around 3 percent;
• Close to 80 percent of patients don’t leave reviews unless properly motivated;
• Negative reviews tend to deter older people more than younger people—the latter group is more likely to choose a service with mixed patient reviews, while the former prefers only services with positive feedback;
• Companies that respond to reviews get more reviews because patients get the impression that someone is actively listening to what they’re saying.
So how can front desks at medical practices successfully motivate patients to leave more reviews? By doing the following 5 things.
1. Sending follow-up emails to thank patients for visiting, and prompting them to provide feedback about services rendered. They can make it easier for them to do so by attaching a link to the review site in the email.
2. Performing monthly checks on Facebook to discover patients on Yelp—contacting them on a platform they already use makes it easier to request reviews.
3. Checking online reviews on a weekly basis to see which patients require your feedback on their comments.
4. Sending tokens of appreciation such as postcards with signatures from company staff to show patients your appreciation for taking the time to leave a review.
5. Patient reviews give your practice credibility and help other patients gather information that allows them to make intelligent choices when looking for medical services online. Without them, people won’t feel confident about opting for one medical practice over another because they don’t know what to base their decisions on.