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.
One 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.
Classy: 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.