Marketing is crucial to any business. To grow your plastic surgery practice, you need to increase exposure to proactive potential patients. Easy, right?
While many practices spend thousands of dollars to do just that, some of the best marketing you can get is 100% free. Really.
“Information coming from real patients is much more valuable than any marketing process that I can use,” said Dr. Edward Dickerson, a Fayetteville, N.C., facial plastic surgeon, in one of our latest RealSelf Webinars. RealSelf data bears this out. A 2017 survey of users contacting doctors revealed that nearly 4 in 5 said reviews and ratings were most influential when choosing a doctor, a higher proportion than those who deemed the doctor’s training and certifications influential.
Dr. Dickerson is a prime example of a doctor maximizing the power of reviews on RealSelf. His lean-forward approach to getting patient reviews has paid off with dozens of four- and five-star ratings and effusive praise, including a RealSelf review where a patient gushed, “If I could give 6 stars I would.”
Reviews like that don’t come by accident. These are the result of a conscious effort to provide the best service possible, training staff to maintain those high standards, and then explicitly asking happy to patients to leave written reviews. Dr. Dickerson recently shared some insights into how he maximizes authentic, positive reviews of his practice on RealSelf.
Incent patients and staff
For doctors, the benefits of patient reviews are clear: they provide feedback that can help them hone their practice, and when they’re positive, they can provide a powerful marketing tool for attracting new patients.
But what about convincing staff to promote reviews, and getting patients to take the time to write them?
Dr. Dickerson eases patients into the process in person by discussing their experience undergoing their procedure. This conversation provides a natural opening to emphasize that leaving written reviews can help people who are still early in their journey, and to then ask the patient to share their story. This can be a compelling argument: 63% of people we surveyed said they leave reviews specifically “to share the positive aspects of my experience,” more than any other reason. What’s more, the process of talking through their experience out loud with their doctor can help prime patients to write personal, genuine, thoughtful, and relatable reviews.
To get staff on board, Dr. Dickerson holds contests and rewards for the staff members who encourage the most patients to leave reviews. The contests also give the patients even more reason to participate as they want to help their favorite office staffers win.
Initiate reviews early
While the post-treatment phase is a logical time to ask patients for a review, your recruiting process should start well before their treatment is done. Dr. Dickerson starts touting reviews shortly after new patients walk through the door, and he gets them signed up on RealSelf while they are still in the office.
“When you get them started early in the process, they are much more readily able to write a review afterward,” he said.
Dr. Dickerson has found that after patients sign up and read reviews, they see examples of validated patients and they start visualizing themselves as happy patients. The goal may be to get a review after the treatment, but starting the process early can help reinforce their importance, provide a clear point of reference for your eventual review request, and head off the friction of patients having to go through the account signup process when they’re finally ready and able to write their review.
Learn from reviews
The review process doesn’t stop the second the patient hits publish. Once posted, that review becomes a valuable source of information.
Dr. Dickerson and his staff read reviews to learn more about patient likes and dislikes. They then use that feedback to evolve and adjust their practice and customer service.
He adds that responding to reviews provides an opportunity to start a conversation. This can lead to additional insights, burnish relationships, and help generate return business.
Dr. Dickerson uses RealSelf to tout his services and manage reviews, and calls the platform “a fantastic way to be an extension of your practice.”
For more first-hand aesthetic marketing tips from leading providers,check out the RealSelf University webinar, “My RealSelf: Dr. Edward Dickerson,” on answering consumer questions on RealSelf.