We live in a world dominated by online reviews.
Online reviews can make or break a hotel, restaurant, and even your chiropractic practice. But why has this phenomenon taken place?
The power of social proof
Turns out people always want to do what their peers are doing and deemed OK. This has been termed “social proof” by psychologists. Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people gauge the actions of others in an attempt to determine correct behavior for a given situation.
Turns out, it’s very difficult researching things and finding out for yourself. People also have this inborn tendency to not buck the system or go against the crowd, and this serves a purpose. For example, if everyone is running away from something and you don’t see what it is, you’d better run, too.
Why online reviews matter
Social proof has always been a factor in your practice. This is why doctors with busy offices stay busy and slow offices stay slow. If the waiting room is always empty, people assume that the doctor is not effective and follow everyone else’s lead. It’s hard for patients to go against the grain. And while you may have not known the term, social proof has had an effect on your practice for a long time.
In today’s world, there are dozens of review sites out there. This is the modern version of social proof. If a business has 200 good reviews, it’s the place to be, and other people will want to go there as well. As a DC, you must be proactive here. Even if you have an abundance of referrals, you still need online reviews. This is because if someone refers their friend, before they actually make an appointment, they will check you out online. You must ensure that they have reviews to read or you will never convert them into patients.
The bad review
Often, I get emails and questions from DCs after they’ve received bad online reviews. The only method to fix this is to be proactive beforehand. If you have 30 positive reviews, and one patient you sent to collections leaves you a bad review, you’ll have 1-to-30 ratio of bad to good reviews. A prospective patient will expect to see some negative feedback. However, if you have four reviews, and two are bad, this spells trouble. You have to build your online reputation beforehand to help boost your practice so that negative reviews don’t become a focal point.
Earning online reviews
But how do you increase your online reviews? First, identify the important review sites. No matter what anyone says otherwise, Google reviews are most important in any market because they populate reviews in search results for your business, and thus are often the first reviews a potential patient will see.
There are now dozens of review sites and every market is different, so choose a couple to focus on. Some options are Facebook, RateMds, Healthgrades, Yelp, and Vitals.
When trying to increase your online reviews, do not violate ethical guidelines in doing so. In many states, it is illegal to give patients something in return for leaving a review. Paying for reviews or hiring someone to write them could flag you or put you at odds with your state board.
A contest that rewards patients for leaving a review, however, may be a good option for your practice. Offer a contest for patients who leave reviews, so that they are only entered to win and not guaranteed a prize. But check with your state board to ensure that this marketing is within their guidelines.
Overall, being proactive about your online reviews can help boost your practice by bringing in new patients.
James R. Fedich, DC, has been practicing in northern New Jersey for 12 years and his clinic collects over $1 million a year. He is a speaker, consultant, and the author of multiple books, including Secrets of a Million Dollar Practice. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through milliondollarclinic.com.