Updated: Oct 24, 2022
When you need more reviews for your private practice or healthcare business, consider your own behavior. Your typical appointment with a healthcare provider likely ranges from acceptable to excellent. Once it’s over, you hurry to take care of all the tasks in your day that the appointment disrupted. The only times you consider leaving a review for the practice are those appointments that didn’t meet your expectations–where you waited too long or experienced some other frustrating scenario.
Prior to that first healthcare appointment with the practice, however, you likely spent some time absorbing information on a site like Google, Facebook or Healthgrades.
In a 2020 survey of patients, findings showed that
90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians.
Almost three quarters (71%) of surveyed patients use online reviews as the very first step to finding a new doctor.
As a practice, this means you are left to perfect that first impression or you’ve already lost so many opportunities. While word of mouth still remains the most dependable source of new business for most practices and healthcare businesses, gaining new customers by creating an excellent digital introduction to your practice is essential. Key to that success is reviews.
No matter your industry, positive reviews typically don’t come naturally. It’s human nature to react when we’re annoyed but move on – albeit pleasantly surprised – when we are feeling appreciative. Rare is the client or patient who feels delighted and then proactively leaves you a review.
This is why you need to ask.
Why you should ask for reviews for your practice
The first step in getting good reviews is providing excellent service. This goes without saying, but it’s harder to do. It doesn’t matter how attentive you are with patients or clients if you leave them waiting for too long in the waiting room or your front desk is rude. That one bad part of the experience is what will prompt people to leave a low rating.
This is one of the main reasons why if you leave your review pages up to the hands of fate, you’ll end up with a lower rating. True, this could be because your practice or healthcare business stinks. But most providers and healthcare leaders toil in what you do because you care. Your ratings should reflect that.
One Skokie, Ill. pediatric practice is beloved in the community they’ve served for 18 years. Without proactively requesting reviews, they received 74 reviews and a rating of 4 stars. On the day they turned on an automated request for reviews text message through their Electronic Medical Records system, they received 12 more reviews. They were all 5-stars and came just from one morning’s walk-in hours.
Kids First Pediatric Partners in Skokie got 12 reviews in one morning by automating their reviews request system.
Set up your Google Business page
If you want to receive more positive reviews, the first step you’ll have to take is ensure your review pages are set up and you’re actively monitoring them.
If you have a brick and mortar location for your practice, you’ll want to claim your page in Google. Right after you let your mom or partner know you’re opening up a private practice or healthcare business, the next to know should be Google. This helps your reviews as well as your SEO.
Having a Google business page is essential to making sure the correct address is listed for your practice and that no one else claims your business page for you.
Here’s how to claim your business through Google Maps
On your computer, open Google Maps.
In the search bar, enter the business name.
Click the business name and choose the correct one.
Click Claim this business. Manage now.
Select a verification option and follow the on-screen steps.
Once you claim your Google business page that, you’ll receive emails when there is a new review. You should respond to these within 24-hours. If it’s positive, thank them! If it’s negative, acknowledge the feedback without going into too much detail or getting defensive. Simply let them know you’re addressing their concerns. Then, go ahead and fix the problem. You can even go back to the reviewer and let them know how you handled the issue, which shows the whole world that you take feedback seriously and are committed to your customers. If it seems appropriate, you can even ask the newly satisfied patient to consider revising their initial review. Next stop for you, is surely tackling world peace.
Reviews for your practice or healthcare business on social media matter
When it comes to social media, don’t ignore that space. If a lot of your word of mouth business happens on Facebook or Twitter, be sure to actively check your reviews on these channels and respond. Thank them if it’s positive and publicly acknowledge them if it’s negative. Then, take the conversation over to the private messages so that you can help them sort out their issue. Once you fix the problem, you can publicly respond and let the world know.
Does this sound like a pain? Perhaps. But consider this: customer relations has ALWAYS been a part of business. Meeting your customer where they are – which is online in increasing numbers – is an integral component of customer service today.
Is it okay to ask employees for reviews for your practice?
Asking your employees for a review can be a little tricky. It’s tempting to ask employees to review you because it improves your rating to get a bunch of 5-star reviews. If people know your practice because you’re in a small town or because they’ve visited your business in the past, and then they see employees misrepresenting themselves as patients or clients, this looks super shady.
Here’s what you can do, though. Encourage your employees to leave an HONEST review about what it’s like to work for your business. This can improve your rating, impress your patients (not to mention prospective employees) and is totally ethical.
Mistakes businesses make when asking for reviews for your practice
We’ve already discussed that NOT asking for a review is your first mistake. But the way you ask for reviews can end up worse than not asking at all. Here are four things you should avoid when trying to build up your reviews. Google can take down suspicious reviews, and it looks bad for your business.
Asking too many past patients or clients at once so your reviews come in sudden batches. This looks suspicious to Google
Asking employees to leave fake reviews as if they are customers. And don’t even think about having them create fake accounts.
Offering incentives for positive reviews. Instead, ask them for an honest review with no incentive.
Getting too many reviews on your premises. This looks suspicious because Google will assume you’ve provided an incentive to review you.
Be sure to remain HIPAA compliant when responding to reviews
HIPAA laws making responding to online reviews a little more tricky for those in healthcare. When a review is positive or negative, it’s important to respond without revealing any information, including even whether the person is actually a patient. Even when a patient reveals their personal health information their online review, you are not authorized to acknowledge that the person is a patient, per HIPAA regulations. What you can and should do is respond in general terms about how you treat patients.
Here’s an example of a good and bad way to respond to a review:
Review: “I was super excited to meet the staff. But after the lady hung up on me, and they treated me like I was incompetent. I’ll be finding a new Dr. Office. A waste of my time my daughter’s cough wasn’t even resolved.”
Non HIPAA Compliant Response: We are sorry to hear about your experience. Our priority is to ensure the safety and health of all of our patients. If you would like to discuss your daughter’s experience, please contact our team at [NUMBER AND EMAIL].
HIPAA Compliant Response: We are sorry to hear this. Our priority is to ensure the safety and health of all of our patients. We value your feedback and want to thank you for taking the time to share it. You can contact our team at [NUMBER AND EMAIL] if you have any further comments or suggestions.
Following are three ways to proactively get more healthcare reviews
Add a link to your email signature: Once you’ve claimed your Google Business page and are responding to social media reviews and comments as well, go ahead and add links to these pages in your email signature. Here are instructions to find your direct link on Google. Find it on Facebook by going to your page and clicking on “Reviews” in the top bar.
Make a habit of reaching out to customers when they leave your practice or business: Once a client leaves your business, you can follow up with an email or a text thanking them for their business and asking them to take a minute to leave an HONEST review. If you’re going to do this, don’t ask them directly for a 5-star review because that’s not a best practice. You also don’t want to ask them for a review while they are still on your premises because Google can see where your reviewers are, and this will be suspicious. (Creepy, I know.) Google has been known to remove suspicious reviews.
Use a service like Get More Reviews or your PRM system: There are a lot of companies, including patient relationship management software, like SolutionReach that will automate the process above for you at a reasonable price. You will need to add emails and cell phone numbers into the dashboard, and then the review service will reach out to them on your behalf. What I like about this service is that you’re more likely to keep up with the reviews because it’s simpler and you’re more committed by paying for it. It also offers recipients the option to write their ANGRY ALL CAPS RANT to you in a private message rather than on a public review. Many times, they will actually choose this because the goal of a negative reviewer is often just to get the owners’ attention. You’ll also be able to track a lot of reviews in one place if you own multiple locations of your business.
Gathering testimonials for a new business
One challenge for new businesses is that you don’t have past clients to ask for reviews. But you need reviews for testimonials on your website for credibility. One way to do this is to let people use your product or service when it’s still in the beta stage and then ask them for reviews. You can even give them a discount or free service in exchange for an honest review.
If you worked in a similar industry or different job in a similar space, you can ask your past clients or colleagues to give you a testimonial by sending out a survey. You can swipe mine here to use for your own business.
Most importantly, keep doing the good business practices you started out to accomplish, and let the 5-star reviews pour in.
Want to talk strategy for your business? Be in touch! Let’s talk.