How To React To Negative Reviews Online

The importance of having a strong online presence is increasing as reviews on local listing sites such as Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Bing Local and Yelp are becoming more of a factor for ranking your business. We all want our business to have five star reviews across the board, but what should you do if you receive a negative review? Step one: take a deep breath.

Negative reviews are an unfortunate reality of any customer service industry. But they don’t always mean the downfall of your company. Here are some ways to react if you receive a negative review:

  • Try to resolve the issue with the reviewer directly. If you recognize the patient from their comments and why they may have reacted this way, try to contact them to see if you can address their concerns and come to a resolution. If they are satisfied, ask them if they could remove the negative feedback.
  • If a resolution cannot be met, it’s a good idea to respond publicly to the review as the business owner on the site. The customer may not be happy, but you will be able to present yourself as professional and responsive to feedback by explaining what happened and how you will rectify the situation in the future. Is the reviewer’s complaint legitimate? Take a moment to see if you can enact a change in your office that will be an overall improvement in the service you provide for future patients.
  • Use the public reply as an opportunity spin the negative into a positive and explain something about the practice that wouldn’t be known otherwise. For instance, do you offer a 100% patient satisfaction guarantee or their money back? Mention this.
  • Finally, and most importantly, bury the negative with positive reviews. There are a number of ways to encourage your patients to leave reviews. Whether it is through an e-mail request with a link to your review page, a QR code poster that lets them leave a review from their cell phone or having a device in the practice office that lets them leave immediate feedback, reviews are a vital part of improving your local listing search rankings.

So next time you get a negative review- stay calm. This is a chance to improve your service and turn a person who had a negative experience into another satisfied customer.

Choosing the Right Media for Your Message

When evaluating media alternatives, there are a number of considerations.  One question that arises from time to time is the effectiveness of TV advertising for a dental practice.  Doctors we have worked with have had success and disappointment with TV.  Having worked in a media department of an ad agency and as a marketing manager earlier in my career, there are three things worth considering when evaluating TV or any other media for advertising.

1. What is your objective and message:  Depending on what you want to accomplish, TV may or may not be the best way to deliver the message.  TV can be good practice name and positioning reinforcement.  It can also be a great way to showcase the benefits of your work with the live video.  However, will the ad format give you enough time to deliver the message you need to send?

2, Evaluate what you are really buying with the TV schedule:    When are they running the spots and what is the expected audience for the ad schedule.  The three common measures for a media buy are     * Reach (percentage of audience reached during the schedule), Frequency (avg. number of times someone is likely to see the ad) and CPM (cost per thousand viewers reached). This should all be measured against the type of patient demographic you are trying to reach (ex. women and men ages 25-64).  It is a good idea to also  look at the geography of the TV coverage and determine how much of it is your market area (where patients will realistically drive from to reach your office).  There is a level of waste in TV and any marketing.  Consider then how much of that coverage will be helpful to you.  If you are wasting 80% of the coverage on people too far away to drive to your practice or on viewers who are not your target demographic, there may be better options that are more targeted to your practice.  Much of the effectiveness will also depend on how good the ad is.  Then look at the cost per thousand, and you can more easily consider the cost against the costs of other marketing options such as internet marketing or direct mail.

3. Consider the value of the TV spot production:   Just the production of a quality TV spot can often carry a large price tag.  If you have access to the ad video (which you should be able to do) you could use it on your website (becoming increasingly important on websites now) and also post it on YouTube for additional visibility online. So, there may be some value in the production itself to consider.

If you are still unsure, conduct a test and track the results.  Make sure you run it long enough to fairly evaluate the results but contain your commitment until you have a better idea how it will perform for your practice.

Dental Practice Success in a Troubled Economy

With the uncertainty in the markets, it is easy to get caught up in believing the news.  Yet, some of the most successful practices take a different path from the rest of the crowd during times like this.  Today, there was an excellent article posted by Roz Fulmerof ToPS on the CrownCouncil.org website outlining five things you can do to thrive in a troubled economy.  It is well worth the read if you are a Crown Council member:

http://crowncouncil.org/profiles/blogs/troubled-economy-refuse-to-participate

Here is a brief overview.  She suggests five keys to success during a down economy:

1. Refuse to participate in the recession – don’t become paralyzed, continue to move forward with your business

2. Increase marketing and advertising – build your brand while others are pulling back

3. Innovate – consider new approaches and possibilities; some of the great businesses today were born during recessions

4. Become a talent magnet – it is a great time to find and attract the best talent

5. Think big, take action. – create your vision and take action

Don’t participate in a troubled economy – choose to thrive in it!

Have a great day!

Lane

Google Places 3rd Party Reviews Disappear

The news from Google that they will not post 3rd party reviews (only links to them) has created concern for many dental practices that rely on local internet marketing. For some time now, we have always recommended having patient reviews directly in the search engines as well as using third party review sites.  Now that these third party reviews have disappeared from Google Places (other than to have a link to them), it is important to have a strategy to get reviews posted directly in Google.  During the past few weeks, we have discussed a variety of approaches with dental practices.  Here are some strategies to consider.

• Some patient reminder systems for dental practices such as SmileReminder and DemandForce can automatically invite your patients to go into the search engines and write reviews after an office visit.  This is a great way to keep a steady flow of reviews coming into the search engines, but there is a monthly cost.

• Send your own e-mails out to your patients with a link to your local listing. We can help you format an e-mail with links directly to your local listings where they can write a review.  Give them some help with instructions.  Contact us if you would like to some help formatting these e-mails.

• Use QR codes to help direct patients to your local listings using their smart phones.   It will make it easy for them to find you, and they can use their smart phone to write a review and share their experience with others.

• Consider a simple reminder such as a business card with the address of your local listing on it that your patients can take home with them.  Make is convenient.

Reviews are gaining more and more attention from consumers, and it is important to pay attention to this area of your marketing.

Benefits of Blogs

There has been a lot of growth in blogs during the past couple of years.  There is good reason for that with all the benefits this can offer your internet dental marketing.  Here are a few to consider:

  • More Website Traffic – A recent study found that more people visit websites with blogs than those that don’t.  When you are providing compelling content on your blog, it can attract interest and readership
  • Better Search Engine Optimization – Providing more content on topics relevant to the services you provide to your patients will aid in the optimizing of your website in the search engines.  It encourages the search engines to revisit your website more frequently and also gives the search engines more content that may get listed in the search engines.  However, best to include the blog as a subdirectory (www.yourdomain.com/blog) rather than as a subdomain (blog.yourdomain.com) to better accomplish this goal.
  • Additional Patient Education – Build up a library of educational material that will be helpful to your patients.  Each blog article can help them understand the opportunities they have to improve their smile and achieve greater oral health.
  • Create a Community – Blogging can help you interact with your patients and prospects as you provide compelling content and invite them to interact with you.  Include the blog material in social media.

Blogging is not difficult.  Blog tools make it easy to post information.  What to write?  Write about new insights on services you provide. Share an experience with a patient when you created a new smile. Discuss research such as the oral health systemic health connection. But focus on information that will be of interest to your patients and prospects. Writing not your thing? Get someone in your office who likes to write and is good at it, or let us help you with a simple tool that will post optimized articles to your blog.  At any rate, it is good to get into blogging.

Site Speed a Factor in SEO at Google

Google has announced that the speed with which the website loads has now officially become a factor in their rankings.  This is not a great surprise, nor is it likely to be a major factor right now for most websites.  They have been talking about it for some time.  However, it is now official.  Good to ensure that your website is loading quickly and allowing visitors to move around easily.  It has always been a good idea to make your website a good experience by ensuring that the site loads quickly.  Now it is even more important.

For more information, here is some insight from Matt Cutts at Google.  If you feel you might need a site tune-up, please contact us.

20 Ways to Win with Internet Dental Marketing

We just returned from the Crown Council Annual Event in San Antonio. What a great group of Eagles who flock together in this organization to learn from each other, improve their practices and give back. It was a great opportunity to spend a few days with those who attended.

On Saturday afternoon, I presented a workshop on “20 Ways to Win with Internet Marketing”.  The internet has become a critical source of new patient traffic, but doing it right makes all the difference. If you did not have a chance to attend, here is a list that we shared with those who were there, broken into three areas:

Strategy Development
1.  Effective Targeting
2.  Proper Messaging
3.  Consistent Branding
4.  Channel Strategies
5.   Results Analysis

Driving Traffic
6.  Meaningful SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
7.   Targeted Paid Advertising (PPC)
8.   Hard-Working Domain Name(s)
9.   Informative Website Content
10. Purposeful Blogging
11.  Optimized Video
12. Newsworthy Press Releases
13. Developed Social Sites
14. Enhanced Local Listings
15. Online Testimonials
16. Targeted Micro-Sites

Converting Prospects
17. Enticing Promotions
18. Innovative Phone Tool
19. Immediate Click to Call
20. Convenient Lead Form

Bonus

• Follow-up

• Continual Tracking to Learn What is Working

There was much more in our discussion.  However, in considering ways to reach and convert key prospects as part of your internet dental marketing, this is a good starting list of things that will help you achieve success.

Internet Reviews – Not to Fear

With the increase in online reviews for dental services and other local businesses, dentists sometimes raise concerns about the lack of control about what is said online. A recent survey of online reviews found that they are largely positive. Like word of mouth, a great experience or a very negative one is more likely to spawn a review.

Here are a few excerpts from a front page Wall Street Journal Article on October 5, 2009 that provide some interesting insights into online reviews.

On the Internet, Everyone’s a Critic But They’re Not Very Critical

Average Review Is 4.3 Out of Five Stars; Jerkface Fights Back and Gets Bounced

By GEOFFREY A. FOWLER and JOSEPH DE AVILA

The Web can be a mean-spirited place. But when it comes to online reviews, the Internet is a village where the books are strong, YouTube clips are good-looking and the dog food is above average.

One of the Web’s little secrets is that when consumers write online reviews, they tend to leave positive ratings: The average grade for things online is about 4.3 stars out of five.

Many companies have noticed serious grade inflation. Google Inc.’s YouTube says the videos on its site average 4.6 stars, because viewers use five-star ratings to “give props” to video makers. Buzzillions.com, which aggregates reviews from 3,000 sites, has tracked millions of reviews and has spotted particular exuberance for products such as printer paper (average: 4.4 stars), boots (4.4) and dog food (4.7).

If the rest of the Internet is filled with nasty celebrity blogs and email flame wars, what makes product reviews sites so lovey-dovey? “If you inspire passion in somebody in a good way or a bad way, that is when they want to write a review,” says Russell Dicker, the senior manager of community at Amazon.

His boss, Amazon’s Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, follows that pattern. He has posted five-star reviews for products like Tuscan brand whole milk and some “ridiculously good cookies” sold on the site. Mr. Bezos’s only non-five-star review: one star for a science-fiction movie, “The 13th Warrior.”

Culture may play a role in the positivism: Ratings in the U.K. average an even higher 4.4, reports Bazaarvoice. But the largest contributor may be human nature. Marketing research firm Keller Fay Group surveys 100 consumers each day to ask them about what products they mentioned to friends in conversation. “There is an urban myth that people are far more likely to express negatives than positives,” says Ed Keller, the company’s chief executive. But on average, he finds that 65% of the word-of-mouth reviews are positive and only 8% are negative.

Some suspect companies goose their ratings. This summer TripAdvisor.com, which averages just above a four, posted warnings that some of its hotel reviews may have been written by hotel managers. But review sites say the incidence of fakes is tiny, and many pay people to delete puffery.Other sites admit they have a positivity problem and are taking novel steps to curb the enthusiasm. One way is to redefine average. Reviews of eBay.com’s millions of merchants were so positive that eBay made 4.3 out of five stars its minimum service standard. Beginning this month, it is switching to a system that counts just the number of one- and two-star reviews. Sellers who get more than 3% to 4% of those ratings could get kicked off of eBay.

Another site, Goodrec, decided to ditch the five-star rating system altogether, replacing it with a thumbs-up and thumbs-down system. Amazon now highlights what it dubs “the most helpful critical review” at the top of its reviews page.

Jeremy Stoppelman, chief executive of Yelp.com, which posts reviews of local businesses in cities around the country, bragged in September that his site’s reviews were more diverse. The average review on Yelp is 3.8. Many assume online reviews are “only rants or raves, resulting in consumer Web sites composed solely of ratings on the extremes,” he blogged. “A broader range of opinions can give consumers a more complete view of a business,” he says.

What can we take from this? Providing outstanding customer service in your dental practice leaves you nothing to fear. Going beyond the expected to make their experience in your dental office exceptional and will likely eventually help you develop exceptional reviews online. Paying attention to your online reputation as a portion of your internet dental marketing strategy also pays off.

Building Your Online Reputation

In the past, dental practices relied on satisfied patients to spread the word with their friends and acquaintances. Today, more and more patients are going online to share their experiences with friends and many others they don’t even know. While reviews have been online for several years for books, electronics and sellers on eBay, reviews are just gaining hold for local service providers.  This is an important developing area of the internet that makes sense to cultivate. While what others were saying about your practice was fairly invisible in the past, now word of mouth is online and visible for years.

Following are some excerpts from an October 2, 2009 Wall Street Journal article by Raymund Flandez that suggest some tips for improving your online reputation.

Three Best Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation

By RAYMUND FLANDEZ

These days, a great danger lurks just a few clicks away: the online review. By Googling your company’s name, anyone can read and track your business’s performance – including missteps, poor service or less-than-stellar products.

Protecting your company’s reputation is now a 24-hour vigil. Negative reviews – whether they’re merited or not – can turn away potential customers and vendors, and reflect badly on your company’s brand.

The good news is that small-business owners can be proactive in securing positive reviews by asking satisifed customers to share their experiences. But what if it’s already too late?

Here are the three best ways to improve your online reputation:

1. Reach out immediately to dissatisfied reviewers. Their negative comments don’t need to be the end of the conversation. Small-business owners should attempt a dialogue, experts say, as complainers might improve the review or take down the post. Oguz Ucanlar, president of SpaForever LLC in Chicago, managed to turn around bad reviews on Yelp.com by contacting the aggrieved posters. He apologized, explained the situation and offered the reviewers discounts or a free massage. The result? One bad review was deleted, and the spa’s overall rating went up. “I take it really seriously,” he says. It also helps that Yelp now allows business owners to respond publicly to any customer comment, giving others a window into how the business treats its most finicky customers.

When a bad review surfaces, an apology goes a long way, says Lisa Barone, co-founder of Outspoken Media Inc., a Spring Hill, Fla., Internet marketing company. “Most people just want to be heard,” she says. “They just want to know you’re listening and you care, and that you’re going to try and fix it.”

Keep in mind that a negative review can sometimes be helpful. Case in point: an online customer of Nationwide Candy LLC of Albuquerque, N.M., complained after she received the wrong bubblegum product. Turns out, the candy wholesaler had posted an incorrect image on its site. “It just casted a bad image on us,” says Ken Hanson, its general manager, who immediately corrected the error.

2. Flood search engines with content you can control. Use digital media’s reach to your full advantage, says Evan Bailyn, founder of First Page Sage LLC, a New York search engine optimization company. Mr. Bailyn says he often helps clients put “good publicity on top to knock bad publicity off the first page” of search engine results. To do that, he suggests releasing press releases through prnewswire.com or pr.com and building Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts since these social-media sites show up high on search results. “The overall strategy is inundating the Google results with as much good or neutral content as possible so that the bad seems like an anomaly,” Mr. Bailyn says.

3. Appeal to bloggers to review your company or your product. Getting others to weigh in can be an effective way to generate neutral or positive reviews to counteract negative ones. Influential bloggers in your niche market can bring instant credibility to a company. If you already know bloggers in your industry, read or reach others by simply scanning their blogrolls, a handy list (typically placed in the sidebar) of potential contacts. Alert them to news about your product or service as a first step in building the relationship.

For your dental practice, one of the ways you can take control of your online reputation is to invite your satisfied patients to provide reviews.  This is easy to do with a simple e-mail invitation that includes a link to your listing on a site such as Google Maps or Yahoo Local where they can write a review.  ProspectaMarketing assists dentists with this by building their local online listing with helpful information about the practice and then providing e-mail templates that can be sent to their patients to write reviews.  It is easy to implement and just requires some ongoing attention and effort.

Some dentists have concerns about the lack of control over reviews.  The best defense is a well-run practice.  However, even the best practices may have a dissatisfied customer from time to time.  One doctor of an excellent practice had a dissatisfied patient who wrote a negative review and had her husband write a negative review as if he were a patient also.  After a phone call to discuss their concerns, they agreed to remove the reviews.  Sometimes just showing you hear them and will resolve their concerns will resolve the problem and maybe even create greater loyalty.

ProspectaMarketing Blog

Welcome to the ProspectaMarketing blog.  This blog has been established to provide information and insights into internet marketing, particularly for dental practices and businesses seeking to reach consumers. I hope you will find it useful.

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