One of the most challenging aspects of dentistry we have felt first-hand from consulting with hundreds of practices on 3 continents over the last decade is that most solo practitioners work in painful isolation. At best, you don’t receive enough thanks and appreciation for performing great dentistry. At worst, you are the undeserving target of patients’ unresolved stress, fear and anger about life in tough times.
Enter the instant online review sites and you have either a great opportunity to interact with your community or a disaster waiting to happen. We have seen practices brought to their financial knees by the power of Google search and other online review sites like Yelp and Yahoo… or the online equivalent of “Morley Safer from 60 minutes in the reception area”: a detailed essay about your practice on RipoffReport.com
Yahoo, Twitter, Google, and Facebook are not going away. The last 2 have more cash on hand than several European countries. With the advent of Google’s new “local’ tab combined with Google+ and Facebook pushing a billion members, it is a whole new game. Even if you choose not to participate in social media, you should be monitoring your online reputation.
Rule #1: If you are not proactively monitoring your online presence, your reputation is at the mercy of your worst patient’s opinion about you on their worst day (exponentially).
Here’s an example of a reputable Midwestern practice that had a negative review posted about a month ago and they didn’t know anything about it – even though it showed up on their own website. They hadn’t bothered to claim their Google Places page – which is easy to do and completely free, so they weren’t notified about this poison pill someone dropped in their well. We’ll cover how to claim your Google page properly in a future post.
When you moused over the Google map they had their webmaster insert on their own website’s contact page, here’s what showed up:
So, after all their hard work attracting a potential client, if the visitor clicked on the Hours & Directions page, and clicked on the review excerpt on the map shown above, here’s what they would read:
The sad part of this is that it was so easily accessible from their own contact page on the website – and so easily fixed.
Rule #2: If you learn some very basic skills and execute them around the branding philosophy and vision statement for your practice, your experience can be that of treating your best patient on YOUR best day… all day.
Here’s an example of a Google search for ‘periodontist in Chicago’: (this example is presented with all the details with the full consent of Dr. Patel of Downtown Dental in Chicago). You’ll see why he didn’t mind:
When you click on THIS link, it takes you to reams of 5 Star reviews of not only the practice, but the individual team members, mentioned by name for how awesome they are. If you would like to read Downtown Dental’s Yelp reviews, you can find them HERE. The beauty of having lots of customer feedback online is that it will guide you in making improvements in your staffing and practice without having to pass personal judgement. It’s honest feedback from friends of the practice about their perception of your practice, and in the online world, perception is reality.
The ‘takeaway’ here is this: If you want to work smarter not harder, you will create a system to monitor your online reputation. The best defense is a proactive program to monitor search results, encourage friends of the practice to interact with you online, and be proactive in your quest to differentiate yourself from the competition through excellence in dentistry and relationship building.
We have more to come about best practices for online reputation management in future posts. For now, just Google your practice name and city at http://google.com and pay close attention to what appears on page one. The human experience is speaking to you.
P.S. You can also Google ‘NuCalm’ if you like. 🙂