For consumers seeking aesthetic treatments, one of the most important sentiments you’ll need to convey to them is trust. And in your marketing, the ultimate way to build and validate trust is to attract a high volume of quality online reviews.
Other patients’ assessments of your treatments are deemed more credible than what you say about yourself—and they’re a powerful tool for helping patients understand what results are possible for their own treatments.
Consider your own practice. You might find that referrals from current patients are higher quality, requiring shorter consultations, asking fewer questions, and feeling generally more confident in their choice to have a procedure. You can replicate that kind of success online by courting quality reviews. Here’s how to go about it.
1. Don’t shrink from the process
Online reviews can be scary and leave doctors feeling vulnerable, especially due to the prospect of patients writing reviews.
But this isn’t a good reason to avoid actively courting reviews. People who want to write bad reviews will do so anyway. By failing to request reviews from happy patients, you may actually be ceding more ground to people who write negative reviews, allowing them to shape the narrative about your practice online.
And people want to say good things about their experiences: the number one reason people write reviews about their procedure is to convey a positive experience. 63% of respondents to a RealSelf survey said they leave reviews in order to convey a positive experience, versus a mere 14% who do so to share a negative experience. Many patients consider reviews to have enabled what they consider a great decision to have a procedure, and want to pay that value forward to others in the same boat.
2. Get the timing right
You can encourage your patients to write a review by requesting them personally, and at the right time. While sending emails and having your staff request reviews are great ways to nudge patients toward leaving one, a personal request from their provider is the most powerful tactic.
In terms of timing, the best opportunity to ask for a review is before your patient leaves the office—they can even start their review right then. Of course, some patients prefer to wait until they’re home, or at their post-op visit once they have had enough time to live with their results. Either way, having staff share a reminder verbally AND through a handout will help keep the review top of mind for when they are ready.
3. Ask early—and often
In addition to their tone and quality, the quantity and recency of reviews is also important for patient decision making. 88% of RealSelf visitors don’t feel the need to look at other online locations for reviews if practices have 10 or more reviews on their RealSelf profile, so maintaining that quantity is important if you want them to schedule a consultation right from your profile. On average, providers with less than 10 RealSelf reviews receive an average of one contact per month, while those with 10 or more reviews receive, on average, 17 or more contacts per month.
But there’s a catch: 44% of visitors say reviews must be written within one month to be relevant, and 60% say they must have been written within the last two to three months. That means you’ll need to continuously feed your funnel of reviews to ensure you have about 10 every 90 days. To achieve this, aim to get one new review every week.
4. Don’t ignore negative reviews
In addition to being a powerful tool for attracting consultations and branding your practice, reviews also offer useful insight into what your practice does well—and where it needs work.
If you get a negative review, take time to read it and consider whether the feedback you received is constructive. Negative reviews are often about service as opposed to procedures, and engaging with them can uncover changes you need to make in your practice. What’s more, you may have an opportunity to address the patient’s concerns with a little white-glove service. Depending on the outcome, they might even be inspired to update their review.
5. Use digital tools to get reviews, and to showcase them
The RealSelf widget, available in your dashboard, lets you embed reviews from your RealSelf profile—and request reviews—directly on your website. Use these free tools to maximize the power of your existing reviews and to support your goal of getting one new review every week.
Your dashboard also includes Patient Engage, an email campaign tool that lets you send an email blast requesting a review to up to 50 patients. Some doctors worry about communicating with patients too often. To address this, Patient Engage includes a failsafe that will prevent you from sending the email to the same contact more than once every 30 days.
6. But don’t forget the power of physical reminders
RealSelf provider Dr. Edward Dickerson of North Carolina gives each of his patients a menu-style card to take home with them after their treatments. It’s the type of “sticky” material a patient would hold onto—contact information, treatment options and pricing are on the front, and the entire back section is dedicated to explaining why and how the patient can leave a review.
Other providers, such as Dr. Robert Grenley in Seattle, aren’t comfortable asking for reviews verbally. That’s why he incorporates a personal touch to the request anyway by writing a personalized thank you note, which his staff hands to his patients on their way out of their post-op appointment. That note asks patients to consider sharing their journey on RealSelf.
7. Empower your patients to leave strong reviews
In the same way you can help a colleague write a strong recommendation by providing them with a few bullet points to remind them of your strongest qualities, you can empower your patients to leave high-quality reviews with a little prompting.
For example, some doctors we have spoken to use the post-op appointment as an opportunity to ask patients how reading reviews during their own research process influenced their decision to have the procedure. Dr. Eric Joseph, who runs a practice in New Jersey, invites his patients to share their stories with others in a follow-up email containing their before and after photos.
What to do next:
- Set a goal to get one review per week to hit your rolling target of 10 reviews over 90 days. Consider setting up a scoreboard in a location accessible to all of your staff (but not your patients) to encourage them to participate.
- Claim your RealSelf profile and use Patient Engage to email a review request to a list of recent patients.
- Contact your RealSelf Advisor or Advocate to get free review cards you can hand out to patients.
- Post and request reviews on your website with Patient Engage widgets.
- If you already have reviews, read any recent one- or two-star reviews and consider whether patient outreach might be worthwhile.