If you own or manage an optometric practice, you’ve probably observed that online reviews have become ubiquitous in American consumer marketing. An independent optometric practice is now likely to manage its reputation across several online profiles, including the Google listing for the practice, Facebook business account, Yelp, Healthgrades, ZocDoc and more. Online reviews from patients are effective “word of mouth” marketing and can amplify your reputation for good patient care and exceptional customer service within your service area. An independent optometric practice is likely to state that its mission is to deliver personalized care and build trusted, long term relationships with patients on the website and in marketing collateral, but since consumers tend to be wary of marketing language, good online reviews can go much farther to inspire confidence in the practice than any mission statement or tagline on the website or social media.
Ways to Acquire Online Reviews
There are several ways an independent optometric practice can acquire online reviews. Some practices don’t have any specific strategy to obtain online reviews but still manage to attain positive feedback on the Google listing, Facebook and Yelp. This scenario tends to happen when the practice consistently delivers truly exceptional patient care and customer service and are fortunate to have thoughtful patients who themselves are active readers and writers of online reviews.
Some optometrists and practice team members simply ask patients for online reviews, particularly when they have built good rapport and trust with patients, and this method can be surprisingly effective. This strategy is best suited for optometrists and practice teams which have no qualms about asking people for reviews – if the optometrist and staff loathe the process, then this strategy will not be sustainable long-term.
Another method to acquire online reviews is to post signage or include a slide in the digital display and distribute printed cards which asks patients for reviews. This manner of asking for reviews is much more passive and enables the optometrist and team members to focus on their work while alluding to their presence on Google, Facebook and Yelp, and can be an effective way to suggest that reviews would be appreciated to patients.
The method I tend to favor is using an automated smart text which is sent to patients directly after an exam. These texts are offered by most patient communication platform providers, usually for an extra monthly fee, and costs vary among providers. Not only does this method enable you and the practice team to focus on patient care, it also makes the process much easier for patients as these texts provide the links to the practice Google listing, Facebook page and Yelp account, allowing patients to choose the platform with which they’re familiar. If you’re using a patient communication platform for appointment reminders, consider asking them about adding a smart text for reviews. It’s a good element to add to your practice marketing plan because it helps you build the digital version of word of mouth marketing.
Boosting Your VisibilityThere is a real advantage for independent optometric practices which acquire online reviews, and that is the increased visibility of the practice on Google searches. Google listings which are rich with both content and online reviews may appear in the “three pack” under the map in searches for optometry related expertise and product in the local area, and you may be surprised to learn that you can acquire brand new patient appointments directly from a highly visible Google listing as prospective patients can click to call the practice or schedule appointments through your online appointment scheduler from this location. Online reviews also contribute to the overall SEO of your practice website on Google, and this translates into more appointments and new patients, and increased revenue for the practice overall.