Category Archives: Reputation Management

The Secret to Getting More Online Reviews

What is the best method for doctors to get patients to write more reviews?

I’ve been asked this question on a near-daily basis for years and my answer hasn’t really changed much.

Still, almost every day some newfangled product or platform comes along to save the day and solve the problem of how to get more good reviews, scaring busy doctors with fear-based email marketing and threatening their reputations. The options are endless and confusing… expensive software add-ons, iPads in the lobby, kiosks, QR codes, even fake surveys.

fakedOne well-known company developed an entire program asking patients to fill out a survey on an iPad in the office. Somewhere in a dark room in another state (perhaps even another country) they took the comments from that iPad survey, created a fake Google, Yelp, or RealSelf account and post the comments from the survey responses as reviews. They went so far as to spoof their own IP addresses to pretend they were a different person each time.

When they got caught, they defended the practice, saying “it’s really the patient’s words, so what’s the problem?” Well, there’s just this little obstacle in the way called the TERMS OF SERVICE of EVERY WEBSITE OUT THERE.

Google flat out commands you not to impersonate others or misrepresent your identity:

“Impersonation: Don’t post reviews on behalf of others or misrepresent your identity or connection with the place you’re reviewing.” –Google

Any time Google sets a standard for how they’d like us to do something, a number of people instantly set out to trick them, and the rest of us comply. Why not just follow the recommendations? Why so much manipulation? It’s as if the lessons of the last decade didn’t stick… fake keywords, fake articles, fake websites full of fake inbound links, fake stock photos, fake guest blogs, and now fake reviews.

Step into my time machine… Remember when stock photos were very expensive and people didn’t think they’d get caught “borrowing” images for their websites? Stock photo giant Getty Images didn’t like that so much, so they developed software to go out and find their stolen images and recoup their costs.

Many doctors received nasty legal letters with expensive fines for copyright violations. In most cases, the doctors didn’t even know the images hadn’t been paid for, but they were still on the hook. If you think you can’t get caught repurposing other sites’ reviews, just remember stock photos. The way I see it, the big companies are going to get awfully tired of their content being stolen and do something about it.

If you think you can’t get caught repurposing other sites’ reviews, just remember stock photos.

So what is the best way to get online reviews?

Occam’s razor. The doctor needs to simply ask the patient personally.

A fellow internet marketer who I respect reminded me of this recently when we talked about this issue, and he had been trying every method under the sun for his client’s practice, and the only tactic that actually worked was when the doctor asked.

Here are a few different methods for asking. Do what you’re comfortable with.

thank-youClassy: One very stately and elegant surgeon I know takes a few minutes to hand-write a few notes on his personal stationery, without addressing them. When a patient is happy, he steps away, fills in the name, and hands the patient the handwritten note on their way out. (This is my personal fave.)

Email response: If a patient writes you a personal email with compliments, reply and ask them to share it on one of the sites you like and trust. Google yourself and see which sites are at the top, and send them to whichever is the highest quality source on the top half of page 1 – don’t bother with the others. Let it go, let it goooo…! I give you permission to not worry.

Personal email: Even if you wrote one request per week, you’d be generating more reviews than your competition.

3 cool and affordable tools that support the process:

1 – Use your own website: Make a dedicated page on your site that says where to go. Don’t combine it with actual patient reviews, put those front and center on their own page (or multiple pages).

2 – Review Concierge: Designed just for doctors (not restaurants, bars, bike shops, mechanics, pet stores, etc.) and comes with a fantastic link you can share with patients to direct them to the best site where they already have an account to write a review.

3 – RealPatientRatings: Does not compete with your efforts to get online reviews. It is a different piece of the same puzzle and is highly effective at quantity and freshness. Behind the scenes, you get actionable intelligence to help grow your practice and to generate crazy-huge amounts of review content for your own website. Which is where you need it the most, because it’s where most of your patients will learn about you first. You only get one chance to make a first impression and this happens within the first 8 reviews read by your patient.

“Having a perfect 5 star rating everywhere isn’t what you want, it’s not believable at all and has the opposite effect — it diminishes trust.”

3 tips for review success

1 – CHOOSE WISELY: Avoid sending your patients to sites where reviews can be easily faked. This includes sites like Vitals, Healthgrades, RateMDs. If you send your real patients to write reviews there, that profile will rank better, and you’ll be exposing future patients to the possibility of fakes.

2 – QUANTITY OVER PERFECTION: Focus on quantity over perfection. Having a perfect 5 star rating everywhere isn’t what you want, it’s not believable at all and has the opposite effect of diminishing trust. It’s quantity and freshness that matters most for building trust and driving conversions.

3 – COMMON SENSE: Remember what your mom said. If it sounds too good to be true, it is! If you’re being pitched something that can’t be explained very well, if it filters out the bad reviews (which you need to be believed), promises to get you 5 stars everywhere, or fully takes away the personal request aspect, just be skeptical. Even the best software solutions are no match for a personal request. And asking is free.

Curious about each website’s terms of service?

Every company’s website has a page outlining their rules that can be easily found. The other important piece of information to know is how their reviews are collected, moderated, and published.

RealPatientRatings patent-pending process results in more 100% verified reviews faster than any other platform, returns them to you to power your own website and marketing efforts, and delivers actionable intelligence to make unbiased practice decisions.

Service Recovery: Why Early Warning Systems Aren’t Optional

Concerns about on-line reputation and strategies for reputation management are regular topics at Society meetings. Virtually every physician has experienced at least one harmful review. Negative reviews impact our reputations and, in the extreme, can stifle business growth. Despite the danger, very few practices institute early warning systems to decrease the likelihood of negative reviews.

A smaller subset of physicians who use ratings and reviews to market their practices tell a different story. These practices verify their own quality and use it to attract consumers to their brand. They can attest to the incredible sales and conversion benefits of proactively providing ratings and reviews to consumers for use in their buying process.

Regardless of your perspective on the ratings and review phenomenon, it’s time to adopt an unheralded methodology, service recovery. Viewed through the service recovery lens, a negative review reflects the organization’s failure to ferret out discontent and resolve it internally before it goes viral. Service recovery provides an early warning system that enables practices to resolve service issues privately and internally.

What is service recovery?

“Service recovery refers to the actions a provider takes in response to a service failure.[1] A failure occurs when customers’ perceptions of the service they receive do not match their expectations. By including also customer satisfaction into the definition, service recovery is a thought-out, planned, process of returning aggrieved/dissatisfied customers to a state of satisfaction with a company/service.”[2]

What are the effects of service recovery?

“A growing body of literature on service recovery suggests that a good recovery has a positive impact on satisfaction, recommendation intention, word-of-mouth, loyalty, image, and trust.”[3][4][5][6]


Click to enlarge.


“Some even argue that a good recovery can increase satisfaction to a higher level than if nothing had gone wrong in the first place, which is referred to as the service recovery paradox.[7][8] See chart showing the increase in customer loyalty after problem resolution.”

How do you start a service recovery program?

Go the source, your patients. Embrace feedback and use their disappointments as opportunities to improve your practice and your reputation. In this digital age, you must follow up to resolve the often justifiable concerns of your patients.

  1. Survey all patients post consult, post treatment and post op.
  2. Rate satisfaction using 5 point scale similar to ratings and reviews. Your internal scores provide insight into what public scores should be from verified patients.
  3. Follow up with individual patients who indicate they have an unresolved problem. Work with them to deal with the issues of concern. The higher the patient’s satisfaction with the outcome, the better it is for your reputation.
  4. Identify and resolve process issues which are reflected in low satisfaction scores of many patients, i.e., late clinics, lack of responsiveness or poor preparation for recovery. Low scores at consult impair conversions. Low scores post op reduce retention and referral.


Wise practices recognize the value of proactive customer service and responsive customer complaint systems. Service recovery processes can harness patient feedback and turn it into a valuable and profitable asset. The stakes are much higher among today’s perpetually-connected consumers, a reality smart practices should not ignore.

Marie Olesen
Founder, RealPatientRatings®
Advisory Board, Center for Services Leadership, W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University

Note: Service recovery is an established methodology in the business environment. I’ve cited these studies because it is important that those of us in medicine adopt these processes rather than question the validity of the concept.

  1. Grönroos, Christian. “Service Quality: The Six Criteria of Good Perceived Service Quality.” Review of Business 9, no. Winter (1988): 10-13.
  2. Lewis, Barbara R. “Service Promises, Problems and Retrieval. Working Paper.” Paper presented at the QUIS, Karlstad, 1996.
  3. Maxham, James G. III. “Service Recovery’s Influence on Consumer Satisfaction, Word-of-Mouth, and Purchase Intentions.” Journal of Business Research 54, no. October (2001): 11-24.
  4. Spreng, Richard A., Gilbert D. Harrell, and Robert D. Mackoy. “Service Recovery: Impact on Satisfaction and Intentions.” Journal of Services Marketing 9, no. 1 (1995): 15-23.
  5. Smith, Amy K., Ruth N. Bolton, and Janet Wagner. “A Model of Customer Satisfaction with Service Encounters Involving Failure and Recovery.” Journal of Marketing Research 36, no. August (1999): 356-72.
  6. Tax, Stephen S., Stephen W. Brown, and Murali Chandrashekaran. “Customer Evaluations of Service Complaint Experiences: Implications for Relationship Marketing.” Journal of Marketing 62, no. April (1998): 60-76.
  7. Hart, Christopher W. L., James L. Heskett, and W. Earl Jr. Sasser. “The Profitable Art of Service Recovery.” Harvard Business Review 68, no. July–August (1990): 148-56.
  8. McCollough, Michael A., and Sundar G. Bharadwaj. “The Recovery Paradox: An Examination of Customer Satisfaction in Relation to Disconfirmation, Service Quality, and Attribution Based Theories.” In Marketing Theory and Applications, edited by Chris T. Allen, 119. Chicago: American Marketing Association, 1992.

The 5 Stages of Embracing Patient Reviews (for Doctors)


You just want them to go away… nobody reads those darn things!


You’re mad at the people who wrote bad reviews and lose some sleep trying to figure out how to get them removed from the Internet. You might have even called your lawyer.


You ask your happy patients to write reviews everywhere. You may even start looking for ways to game the system. (No, you can’t game the system!)


You realize few patients will actually get it done and even then, some websites won’t publish the reviews!


You know reviews help you grow and that some blemishes actually boost your credibility. You just need to figure out how to acquire reviews frequently and without burden to your staff.

5 Must-Read Reputation Management Articles for Plastic Surgeons

Forbes: Is Online Reputation Management Worth The Money?


The cost of reputation management services who claim to be capable of cleaning up your online profile range from free to upwards of $1000 a month, but are they worth it?

Critics say these sites don’t do anything you can’t do yourself.

Doctors who ignore online reviews put their reputation on the line

MediBeauty advises that “No one would suggest that cosmetic surgery is an “impulse buy” but the fact remains that people are increasingly adept at getting a good sense of a doctor’s reputation quickly.”

BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2013

A revealing look at how consumers read reviews and how their opinions are affected by the reviews they read, specifically concerned with reviews & purchase of local business services and not product reviews.

The Complete Guide to Yelp Reviews: Power to the People!

A comprehensive guide to Yelp for businesses, covering every angle of the coveted and often-frustrating acquisition of Yelp-worthy review content.

How Ratings + Reviews = Revenue

A RealPatientRatings webinar, originally broadcast July 31, 2013.

What is “reputation management” anyway? Like everything in online marketing, it’s constantly changing. Learn how to focus on proactively protecting yourself, and convert more leads and cases with the marketing features available to you as a member of RealPatientRatings. We’ll show you how to do more with what you’ve got by using the 3 most important reports on your reporting dashboard, and how to and interpret the data to generate more revenue without spending more money.