The world of online reviews is a tricky one. Certain businesses, like restaurants and hotels, effortlessly receive dozens of reviews. Other businesses, however, can struggle to get even a few.
What’s worse is that businesses rarely receiving reviews are actually more likely to get one when a customer has a negative experience. Even if a business receives consistent applause from their customers in-office, if those positive reflections don’t make it to the online review platforms to balance out the occasional unhappy customer, a wide divide can quickly form between a business’s online and offline reputation. And frankly, your online reputation is currently more important.
The truth is, 97% of consumers report using online reviews to select a business. And the recent surveys show that consumers read an average of seven reviews before trusting a new business. So, despite the tricky nature of online reviews, it’s clear that getting more of them (especially from satisfied customers) is worth the effort involved.
Unfortunately, hearing practices tend to fall in the category of businesses that aren’t often reviewed. Many reasons account for this, but none of them are too challenging to overcome. Indeed, many hearing practices are already reaping the rewards (read: new patients) that having an active review management strategy can create.
You might be wondering what a “review management strategy” is exactly. Essentially, it’s a plan of action aimed at improving your online reputation. It typically involves a thorough strategy to increase the reviews your practice is getting (possibly using helpful review-generating tools like this one) along with a review monitoring and response protocol. We’ve detailed the latter part of this strategy previously (here and here), since responding to negative reviews is equally as important as getting positive ones.
But what about that first part? How are you expected to get your patients to leave reviews when they never seem to do so on their own accord?
First, you must know that you’re not alone. For many business owners, online reviews are hard to get, the negative ones seem to come faster than the positive ones, and they quickly become the bain of their business. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With consistent application of a proven review-boosting method, online reviews could realistically provide your practice with free marketing.
So what’s this proven method?
It’s surprisingly simple: you must ask for reviews. Yep, asking your patients to share their experience consistently proves to be the most effective way that our clients boost their online reviews.
But we get it. This is often cringe-worthy advice. “Asking people to recommend me? Won’t it make me seem desperate? Or like I’m begging?”
The fact is, these days, it’s actually not uncommon to be asked to review a business. How many emails have you received after you made a purchase or received a service, asking for you to review your experience? Amazon.com does it for every purchase made. In fact, surveys show that 74% of consumers report having been directly asked for a review. And you know what? Nearly all of them (91%) did just that.
Like most potentially awkward things in life, it’s not so much about doing or not doing them, but instead about how you do them. The same is true for asking for reviews. You can’t get around it: you need to ask your patients to leave your practice a review if you want to improve your online reputation. But you can choose how you want to go about it.
Consider these tips below for a smooth and sensitive approach.
Help Others Find Help
The best way to avoid seeming like a desperate business owner eager for some more online reviews is to reframe the request entirely. Consider the difference between these two requests:
See what happened there? You were completely honest about the end result you’re aiming for. More reviews mean more patients. But the point you can focus on is that more patients really means more people hearing better. More people getting the care they need. And more people enjoying excellent service from your practice.
From the Top Down
It’s easy for practice owners to place the awkward task of asking for reviews on the plate of the front desk. After all, it’s where patients are checking out, paying, and likely sharing their thoughts about their appointment. But it’s a weak approach. Sure, anyone asking for a review is better than no one doing so, but the hearing professional making the most personal connection with the patient is truly the most effective person to be asking for a review.
Hearing care is an intimate exchange, where the professional gets to know the patient and his or her unique struggles. There is much opportunity for connection and warmth, all of which translate into a higher potential for a positive review from the patient. Consider finishing your appointments like this to encourage more reviews from new patients:
Notice how the focus remains on “getting the word out” and “helping more people.” All of this is true, and is a persuasive approach to encouraging reviews. Yes, new patients mean a more successful practice. And a more successful practice also means people are getting the care they need. Leverage this aspect of your profession as a legitimate review incentive.
You might have noticed that we’ve stayed focused on in-person interactions for requesting reviews. This is intentional. Asking for reviews face-to-face is consistently more effective for our clients than only asking them from an email. The only thing more effective than either of the two is to do both, in a specific order.
The best time to ask for a review is right after services are rendered. This makes sense, since the details of a patient’s experience are fresh and their satisfaction is current. But it’s not uncommon for people to forget to leave a review once they get home. Following-up on your in-person request with a simple email reminder becomes very helpful at this stage. Even better is to combine your review request reminder with a genuine check-in on the patient.
Asking how their new hearing aids are doing a few days after their appointment is fairly standard. You might as well help boost your reviews by throwing in a line at the end of the email saying, “By the way, if you have a couple minutes to leave us a review on Google, Facebook, or Heathgrades, we’d definitely appreciate you helping to spread the word about our services!” Just be sure to link those websites to your actual business page on each network, to make leaving a review a simple click away for your patients.
Focus your review requests on websites like Facebook, Google, and Healthgrades. Although Yelp is a commonly used review site, they’ve recently updated their review policies and have explicitly banned requesting reviews from customers. Doing so, and getting caught, can cause your business to have a large and repelling banner on your profile explaining that your reviews are solicited and cannot be trusted.
No review is worth that kind of blatant deterrent on your profile, so we do not recommend that you encourage your patients to review you on Yelp.
Asking for help from your patients might seem like the last thing you want to do. Even the lure of more patient inquiries as a result of better online reviews may not be enough to sway you.
But what about all of those hesitant hearing loss sufferers? You know, the 28.8 million Americans who could benefit from hearing aids (with only 16% of them wearing any). Perhaps the effect that your practice’s positive reviews can have on those in need is enough to encourage you. After all, they can relate best to those patients who finally came in a got the care they needed.
So go on, ask your patients to spread the word. Sometimes, asking for help is the best way you can deliver help.