Reviews have been around for a long time, helping us to decide what movie to see or which restaurant to attend for date night. And while writing them used to be a job reserved for critics, today anyone can share their feedback for the world to see with online reviews.
In essence, online reviews are the new-age cousins to traditional word-of-mouth marketing. And they are one of the most powerful forces in patient acquisition. In fact, according to a 2020 survey, 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, and 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.1 Online reviews are so important in the decision-making process that search engines are awarding higher rankings to those with positive reviews. Higher ranking equals more customers.
It’s essential now more than ever to set up your therapy clinic for success by managing its online reputation. Here are five strategies for generating effective reviews online.
Target Your Brand Ambassadors
You know who they are. They’re the clients always singing you praises and raving about how much your care has improved their lives. There’s a good chance they’ve already referred one or two other clients. It may seem obvious, but these customers are ambassadors for the brand, and they make excellent candidates for authoring online reviews. Think of them not just as customers, but a means to grow the therapy business.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a review! Better yet, invite them. Simply changing the language around asking can make it seem like less a task and more an opportunity. A recent Podium survey found that 77% of consumers indicated they would be willing to leave an online review if simply asked by a local business.2 What do you have to lose?
The best part is, creating more ambassadors is a matter of simply doing what you already do—offering the utmost quality care. But that care extends beyond the PT itself. The more you engage with clients and deliver excellent customer service upfront, the more likely customers are to write reviews and the more personal and compelling reviews are likely to be to potential customers.
Make Review Requests Part of the Workflow
If you aren’t already doing so, now is a good time to start inviting clients to leave reviews. Try making it a part of the regular discharge workflow.
Include a postcard as part of clients’ take-home papers or place a sign on the door, reminding customers as they leave. Or text or email clients shortly after they’ve completed treatment. Because customers do not have any skin in the game (unless it was a particularly poor experience), writing a review is easily forgotten. Opt for a combination of techniques to stay top of mind.
Additionally, consider planting the seed during in-person treatments. Moments of delight, whether in session or immediately following, are the perfect windows to casually invite a review. There’s a better chance customers will remember from the experience, and asking them later will be more organic.
Ensure Timely, Relevant, and Numerous Reviews
By making reviews part of the outpatient therapy workflow, there’s the added bonus of perpetually receiving timely reviews. According to a BrightLocal survey, 85% of consumers think that online reviews older than three months aren’t relevant.3
Potential customers want to know what their experience would be if they walked in today. If your reviews are out-of-date, they may think your services aren’t relevant, or worse, have gone down-hill. They may hesitate to give you their business.
But don’t be dismayed by older reviews. They also serve as a “social proofing” archive, and it’s good to have numbers in your corner. In fact, buyers require an average 40 online reviews before believing a business’s star rating is accurate.4 So for reviews to be effective, they should be both numerous and timely.
Make it Easy for Your Patients and Your Practice
Remember, you’re asking customers to go out of their way to help the business. Be upfront and tell them it will take only a few minutes to write a review. Make it even easier for them by including prompts in the invitations. Examples include:
- “What about our service did you enjoy most?”
- “What was the biggest benefit you received?”
- “What did we do to stand out?”
- “What might other patients appreciate about our service?”
The benefit of text or email is they provide a link for customers, making it convenient for them to review on the platform of choice. According to the Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University, brands can expect their average star rating to increase after emailing buyers a direct link to submit reviews.5
To simplify the process, create text/email templates for initial request and reminders. Because they’re digital services, automation also becomes easier.
Reviews Have Rules of Engagement
Once the door is opened to online reviews, expect the inevitable negative review. A customer who leaves a negative review online expects a reply. In fact, 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week, according to ReviewTrackers.6 And in one Google study, consumers said that businesses that respond to online reviews are almost twice as trustworthy than businesses that don’t.7
Use this as an opportunity to address any discrepancies in service or complaints. A response will demonstrate responsibility, humility, and care. Taking accountability and making it right may even lead to the negative review being deleted. Google has confirmed that review response rates plays a role in search rankings, so actively responding to negative reviews has even more benefits beyond the immediate.8
You may even identify areas for improvement. For instance, if customers are complaining that the front desk person isn’t friendly, customer service might be an area to focus on.
Outpatient therapy department heads and private practice owners looking to grow therapy business know the value of online reviews and use their existing EHR software and contact data to make review requests an essential part of their PT marketing toolkit.
Net Health Trust’s integrated Reputation Management solution makes sending review requests as simple and easy as the click of a button. Schedule a demo to see it in action today.
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1,3,4 BrightLocal, “Local Consumer Review Survey 2020,” December 9, 2020.
2 Podium, “State of Online Reviews,” 2017.
5 Spiegel Research Center, “How Online Reviews Influence Sales,” 2017.
6 ReviewTrackers, “2018 ReviewTrackers Online Reviews Stats and Survey,” 2018.
7 Google, “Google Business Profile,” May 19, 2021.
8 Google, “Improve your local ranking on Google,” May 19, 2021.