Audiences have never craved connection more than they do today. Through social media, consumers are able to engage not only with each other, but with the companies and specialists who have a huge impact on their day to day lives. They have a voice like never before. The constant discussion and sense of community can be extremely advantageous for dental practices who learn to leverage their patient base as a marketing tool.
Listen. Your patients are being honest.
Social media isn’t just for keeping up with family and friends. Referrals have been and always will be a driving force in consumer’s buying decisions. Before the internet age, a bad customer experience only reached as far as the ten to twelve people (on average) that the upset customer could reach and would tell of their negative experience. Now, any and everything can go viral. Reviews matter. You know this. And strangers now can blast their experiences out into digital space for the masses to read and take into account before they choose to spend. Social media has made it so companies have to focus on standard of care. Quality. Service. Companies that do this effectively quickly gain an edge over those who do not. This is particularly true for small businesses and specialty service providers like yourself.
Social media has turned the internet into a giant focus group. Take advantage of that! By observing what your dental patients are saying on their own social media channels, you can gain valuable insight. Generally, folks on the internet are proclaiming unprompted opinions, so what they’re saying is usually a knee-jerk reaction to your service. People almost never write reviews for services or products they deem adequate; much more frequently, consumers will sing the praises of an exceptional experience or seek solidarity in times of disappointment. The point remains, the choice to proclaim a belief is deliberate. Don’t miss the opportunity to observe this kind of honest feedback.
Respond when feedback is good.
Very often, dental offices miss the opportunity for some free goodwill by responding to a satisfied patient. The simple act of acknowledging a positive tweet or a happy Facebook comment can leave your patients with a “warm fuzzy” feeling that helps secure their loyalty.
You must provide… the warm fuzzy.
You know the feeling. When you get amazing service or you’re completely happy with a purchase decision you made. All is well. Life is good. Enter the warm fuzzy. Always strive for the warm fuzzy. Discuss it in your morning meetings. How can you give the day’s patients this feeling? Have your staff remember it from the moment the patient enters your practice, to chair-side, to their exit. People want the warm fuzzy. People buy the warm fuzzy. People want to be valued and taken care of. All dentists provide similar solutions. Most patients don’t care about the latest and greatest tech or how well-appointed your waiting room is. Yes, these factors matter, but they need to culminate into the warm fuzzy for your end user. Your patients. Give patients that feeling and you’ve got a life-long practice champion.
Respond when feedback is bad.
Unfortunately, people won’t always sing your practice’s praises. A disgruntled patient bashing you to all of their friends and family can cause irreconcilable damage, potentially turning people off to your practice before they’ve even had a chance to experience it for themselves. You can’t stop people from expressing their discontent. However, attempting to remedy the problem is more than just a gesture of goodwill; it’s a necessity for your online reputation. You definitely don’t want to relinquish any of the influence you have over your practice presence on the web, so it’s extremely important to monitor this activity closely and to have a response plan in place. The good news… most consumers don’t weigh older reviews as heavily as newer ones. Typically, after 90 days, a review loses a lot of weight with the average consumer. Do you read old reviews? Probably not. If you do get a bad review, be proactive. Reach out to the patient. Try to get them on the phone to discuss the issue. You can ask them to take the review down, and typically if you’ve solved the issue they had with your practice, they will likely take it down on their own. Not always, but sometimes.
By understanding what folks really want from your dental practice, you can pivot your strategy and satisfy the needs of all your current and potential patient base. Your audiences are your focus groups, your PR firms and your marketing teams; you just need to frame them as such.
Do you need help with your marketing strategy? Feel free to reach out to me with your questions and concerns regarding your dental practice marketing. Everything from marketing and original content to social media and mailing campaigns… we have solutions to take your marketing to the next level.