The Reviews Are In! by Casey Bull

The Reviews Are In! 

For best results, make it easy and effortless for patients to share their opinions

by Casey Bull

Orthodontic offices juggle countless factors in delivering top-notch patient care, from the technical precision of treatments to the warmth of every greeting. We’re always hearing how crucial it is to get reviews, collect patient feedback and share our success stories on social media. But how do all these pieces fit together in the real world of patient care? Let’s break it down, looking at the different ways patients can give us feedback and how it all plays a part in their journey with us.

A basic review of online reviews
It’s well established that online reviews play an important role in attracting new patients. However, the focus here is not on their significance— this is a given—but rather on how to effectively encourage patients to provide these valuable reviews, starting from the very first consultation.
  • Implement automated review requests. Modern orthodontic practices benefit greatly from leveraging technology to streamline operations, including the solicitation of patient reviews. Automated systems such as Podium and Birdeye can be exceptionally effective. These platforms automatically send review requests to patients after their appointments, integrating seamlessly with the patient experience and all without an administrative burden on the practice.
  • Convert verbal praise into online reviews. When a patient expresses satisfaction with their experience, it presents a prime opportunity to request a review. Instead of merely accepting their compliments with thanks, prompt them gently: “We’re thrilled to hear you had a positive experience! Would you be willing to share your thoughts in an online review?” This approach transforms spontaneous positive feedback into a potential online endorsement.
  • Leverage personal relationships for personalized requests. Personal connections between team members and patients are invaluable. Encourage your team to utilize these relationships when asking for reviews. For example, a team member might say, “Jacob, your visits always brighten my day. If you have a moment, could you leave us a review on Google and mention my name? It would genuinely help us out and mean a lot to me personally.” This strategy personalizes the request, making it more meaningful and likely to elicit a positive response.

The power of positive first impressions
Before stepping foot into an orthodontic office, prospective patients often experience a mixture of anticipation and apprehension. The power of online reviews in this initial phase cannot be overstated: Reviews, along with patient or doctor endorsements and referrals, serve as a bridge of trust, offering reassurance and setting expectations about the practice. By reading about others’ experiences—especially regarding the ease of scheduling, the welcoming nature of the staff and the professionalism of the orthodontist—potential patients begin to feel at ease. This trust is crucial in converting inquiries into appointments.
  • If your practice uses an automated communications tool, after a patient schedules their appointment, a follow-up message could say, “We hope you found our scheduling processing to be smooth and accommodating. We’d appreciate it if you could share your experience in a review, mentioning how easy it was to schedule your appointment.” If you don’t have an automation tool, this could be created as a template and triggered by your scheduling coordinator when there is a positive interaction with a patient.
  • Prompt active patients early in their treatment to write a review specifically speaking to their initial impressions when visiting your practice. Was the staff friendly and welcoming? Was the office environment comforting and well-maintained? You might consider including a note in your welcome package or postconsultation email that reads, “Your first impressions are invaluable to us. Please consider sharing how our team and office environment made you feel during your visit.”
By guiding patients to share their experiences in these areas, you create a welcoming pathway for others to follow, making the decision to choose your practice an easier one.

Surveying the landscape
Midtreatment marks a critical phase in the orthodontic journey—a time when the novelty of the process has worn off and the reality of ongoing treatment sets in. This period offers a unique opportunity to gauge patient satisfaction and address any concerns that affect their overall experience. Instead of waiting until the end of treatment to gather feedback, implementing a system of regular check-ins can provide realtime insights that are invaluable for maintaining high standards of patient care and satisfaction. So instead of focusing on review generation, let’s pivot to the concept of digital surveys.
  • Craft an effective survey. The key to successful patient surveys is brevity and relevance. Keep your surveys short and sweet— aim for no more than five questions. This increases the likelihood of completion and ensures the feedback is focused and actionable. Questions should be carefully designed to elicit useful responses, covering aspects of patient care, comfort and communication.
  • Incentivize participation. To encourage patients to take the time to complete the practice surveys, consider offering an incentive. This could be an entry into a monthly draw for a prize relevant to your patient demographic—perhaps popular tech gadgets, community activities or destinations, or gift cards. The prospect of a reward can significantly increase participation rates, providing you with a richer dataset to work from.
  • Analyze feedback for continuous improvement. Make it a routine to regularly compile and review the survey results with your team. This not only helps in identifying areas for immediate improvement but also fosters a culture of continuous patient care enhancement. Sharing positive feedback can be a great morale booster for the team, while constructive criticism offers a clear direction for making meaningful changes.
  • Convert positive surveys into Google reviews. For patients who provide exceptionally positive feedback through these surveys, follow up with a personalized request to share their experience in a Google review. A simple message like, “We’re thrilled to hear you’re having a great experience with us! If you’re comfortable, we’d greatly appreciate it if you could share your thoughts in a Google review. Your feedback helps others feel confident in choosing us for their orthodontic needs.” This approach not only acknowledges their positive feedback but also harnesses it to enhance your practice’s online reputation.

Social media endorsements
The completion of orthodontic treatment is a milestone worth celebrating, and not just within the confines of the practice. In today’s social media-driven world, a posttreatment review shared by a patient on their personal account can significantly amplify your practice’s visibility and credibility. Encouraging patients to share their transformation stories on social media showcases your work and also personalizes the experience, making it more relatable to potential patients.
  • Facilitate beautiful content creation. In the age of Instagram and TikTok, aesthetics matter! Equip your practice with tools like ring lights and designated selfie spots that make it easy and appealing for patients to capture and share. A well-lit, flattering photo or video can make all the difference in how confidently your patients share their experience. They must be proud of not only how they look but also how the image or video looks.
  • Offer to play photographer. Some patients might feel awkward asking for a photo or might not know how to capture the best shot. Offer to help! Say something like, “Your smile looks incredible! Would you like me [or a team member] to take a photo or video for you to share?”
  • Guide them with suggestions. While many patients are active on social media, they may not know what to say when posting about their treatment. Offer suggestions, or even create a small guide that can help them craft their testimonials. Phrases like “Just got my braces off at [Practice Name] and couldn’t be happier with the results!” or “A big thank-you to Dr. [Name] and the team for my new smile” can serve as inspiration.
  • Acknowledge and share their posts. When patients tag your practice or mark you as a collaborator in their post, acknowledge them. Share their content on your practice’s social media profiles (with permission) and thank them for their shoutout. This not only reinforces their decision to share but also shows prospective patients the real relationships you build with those under your care.

The role of negative feedback
No practice is immune to negative feedback, and in the world of orthodontics, where treatment processes are intricate and highly personalized, it’s inevitable.

However, these moments of criticism are not hurdles, they’re invaluable opportunities. Negative reviews offer a public platform to demonstrate your practice’s commitment to patient satisfaction and your dedication to resolving issues promptly and empathetically.
  • Respond promptly and professionally. The speed and tone of your response to negative feedback are crucial. Aim to reply within 24–48 hours, which shows you take patient concerns seriously. Keep your tone professional, courteous and empathetic. Acknowledge the patient’s feelings and express your genuine regret that their experience did not meet their expectations.
  • Take the conversation offline. While it’s important to acknowledge the review publicly, aim to move the detailed discussion offline. In the public response, ask them to give you a call directly to discuss their concerns in depth with someone from your team. For example, “We are truly sorry to hear about this experience. At [Practice Name] we take pride in ensuring every single patient experiences the best of the best care. We take your feedback seriously and would like to learn more so we can make things right. Please give us a call.” (Most review sites don’t allow you to provide contact details in your reply, but if allowed, be sure to include your contact number.)
  • Follow up. If you can identify which patient left the review, follow up to ensure they feel heard and are satisfied with the resolution.
  • Request a follow-up review, when appropriate. If you’ve successfully resolved the issue and the patient is satisfied with the outcome, it may be appropriate to ask them to either remove their previous review or update it so it reflects their improved experience. However, gauge the situation carefully to ensure the patient feels completely comfortable and not pressured to do this.

Remember that every patient interaction is a step in a larger journey—a journey that can be profoundly affected by the feedback loop you create. From the first consultation to the final reveal of a transformed smile, each review, survey response or social media share is an opportunity to enhance your practice and deepen patient relationships.

Implement one or more of the strategies discussed and start building your own feedback-driven patient journey today. Your practice will grow stronger and you’ll strengthen its bonds with your community. Make every piece of feedback count, turning insights into action and patient smiles into meaningful stories.

Author Bio
Casey Bull Casey Bullis the chief operating officer at MyOrthoVA, a company that has created expertly trained virtual assistants to orthodontic practices. Bull also continues to support The Invisible Orthodontist (TIO), where she drives TIO’s mission to provide member practices with marketing and business management expertise. Her profound understanding of the industry extends to the realm of digital marketing, where she excels in overseeing full-suite strategies, including website development and optimization, paid advertising campaigns, local SEO optimization and more.

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