Many dental practices are still adjusting to the idea of using the Internet and social media platforms to reach out to their patient base. Apart from marketing and driving sales, these new generation platforms are indispensable in building a firm’s online reputation. A company’s online reputation is as important as its reputation on the money markets as research shows that 90% of consumers rely on online reviews to decide who to buy from. Patients, disgruntled employees and competitors are all responsible for bad reviews online. Unfortunately, one does not have to be a patient to post a review.
Competitors leave the heaviest impact as bad reviews are a cheap and easy way to steal and dominate the particular market share. Sometimes, it is not the practice itself with bad reviews. When the names of top management officials are synonymous with the company or brand, their personal reviews and reputation online also affects the practice especially in the day and age of the paparazzi. Think that bad google review won't hurt your dental practice? Here's what it really does.
Reduction in Sales
Service oriented practices which rely on patient engagements are worst hit by fluctuations in their online reputation. Such practices include restaurants, dry cleaners, carpet cleaning among others. Research shows that when online ratings of a restaurant increase by a half-star, this translates to a 19% increase in reservations. A one-star increase in rating on Yelp increases the revenue by 5-9% and one negative review costs the practice at least 30 patients. As much as 90% of people believe online reviews of a practice which sadly there is not much accountability on the side of patients. However, taking proactive steps like utilizing dentist reputation management software does help as it gives patients a place to vent, before taking it online.
Effect on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Results
Practices invest a lot of money in SEO to reserve a spot on the first page of search results. However, SEO rank alone is not a guarantee of clicks, as rating is as important. For instance, a practice with a two star rating and another one with a four star, the latter will have more clicks regardless of its lower rank in the search results. Simply put, SEO is irrelevant if the reviews are bad.
Bad reviews affect the staff and sales people yourdental practice attracts. It is no secret that potential employees will check you up before applying for that job, same case to sales people. Your dental practice wants the best employees and the best employees will want to work with the companies with the best reputation, online or otherwise.
Practices have to stand together to thrive. When a company is deciding which company to work, they will check the reputation even before the financial figures. Low ratings and bad reviews will have a major bearing on ability to partner with respected firms in the industry.
Bad reviews are everlasting
It is difficult almost impossible to remove a bad review from the Web. Firstly, trying to remove the review triggers an investigation which involves getting hold of the user who posted it. Other attempts include ensuring more positive reviews which seek to push the bad reviews down to the bottom of the page or the next page. All these only make it less accessible and do not completely remove the review. Good patient service and good products are great ways to make the reviews better but unfortunately, they cannot shield against the effect of bad reviews.
Family and Friends
The effect of bad reviews on family and friends is probably subtle to the practice but it is still very significant. Although they will not be searching for your rating, they will always be reminded by Google and Yelp any time they are online. I do not think they will feel good about your practice being associated with negative reviews.
Bad reviews whether true or not jeopardize a brand that takes years, millions of dollars and effort to build. Worse still, they often appear on sites which rank high in search engines so that they are visible to everyone doing a search about the dental practice. The real damage of bad reviews is felt when the losses in sales, hiring ability and press coverage are beyond the point of return. How a company handles negative reviews could make it or break it. When used wisely and timely, negative reviews are opportunities to improve and grow the relationship with its patients.