Good communication lies at the heart of dentistry. And there is an expectation on those working within the industry to engage with clarity and honesty.

Running a successful practice relies on a team who are confident in effectively handling any challenging conversations with patients too. And this includes those that directly involve marketing the treatments you offer.

Most businesses now rely on online patient reviews to raise a profile and entice further custom. Indeed, patients consider Google reviews a valuable and measurable source of information. They illustrate the highs and lows of any customer/patient experience.

Many dental practices with exceptional Google ratings will stand out from their competition. Those with consistently good feedback often report a boost in footfall because most new patients are relying on the views of others for reassurance in their confidence in a practice’s abilities to deliver exceptional care.

But if your bank of patient testimonials is running dry or may even be non-existent, how best to boost that all-essential star rating?

Gaining Google reviews

Whilst direct requests for Google reviews may irk some as a seemingly unethical practice, it is in fact widely considered an essential tool in your marketing armoury.

Online reviews are the bedrock of any business looking to promote to a public who widely accept and utilise Google’s rating system. The essence of good ethics is in avoidance of specifically requesting only positive feedback.

When you do approach patients, let your patients know you are asking for a ‘favour’ and explain that the practice relies on patients like them to encourage others to enjoy your services. You will quickly know whether or not you’re asking properly based on the number of patients who respond to your review request. Be patient. You’ll get better with time. Everyone does!

So, who are your patients with the best review potential? As healthcare professionals, you and your staff have the benefit of hands-on experience in reading body language. This means understanding who might be open to helping you out and who might shun the idea.

Being able to ascertain whether or not someone is likely to respond enthusiastically is a start. Trust too has its part to play and, as a key factor in the clinician-patient dynamic, it is an easy option to ask someone you know well. Especially if it eradicates any awkwardness in calling on a favour.

But don’t let comfortable familiarity limit you to seeking testimonials solely from long-term attendees.

The most positive feedback inevitably comes from those who have just experienced optimum care and for whom you’ve achieved amazing results.

Ideally then, requesting feedback at the peak of patient satisfaction – ie when treatment is complete, the bill is paid and they are about to walk out the door – is everything.

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