Online reviews play a critical role in a person’s decision-making process about all kinds of purchases, including healthcare services. In fact, more than 86% of consumers read online reviews, and 89% read business’s responses to reviews. Not only do reviews help patients make decisions, but they also elevate your visibility in local search results.
Did you know that:
- More than 60% of consumers look to Google more than any other review site for reviews before visiting a business.
- Facebook is the second most popular site for online reviews.
- 53% of customers who leave a review expect a response within seven days. However, two-thirds of customers report never hearing from the business after sharing their thoughts.
- 94% of consumers say a negative online review has led them to avoid a business.
- 69% of consumers believe that only reviews less than three months old are relevant.
Benefits of Asking for Reviews
Given that consumers are reading and writing more reviews than ever, proactively asking for reviews can have a variety of benefits for your practice, including:
- Amplified search presence. Google has indicated that the quantity, rating, and text in a business’s reviews are factored into local search results – meaning more reviews can help a site rank higher in organic search.
- Higher ratings. Asking patients to leave a review produces a higher percentage of 5-star reviews, whereas unprompted reviews claim a higher percentage of 1-star reviews.
- Burying bad reviews. Receiving a negative review is inevitable. Requesting reviews can push that review lower in the feed, making it less visible.
- Strengthening relationships. Requesting reviews connects your practice to your brand promoters and helps build the relationship that creates loyal customers and raving fans.
It’s more important than ever to request and respond to reviews proactively and in a compliant way. Did you know there are rules regarding requesting reviews via text message and all responses to reviews must be HIPAA compliant? This guide offers best practices to help you get started.
How To Ask For Reviews
Patients visit your practice because they trust you. The rapport you build with them during their procedure helps solidify that relationship even further, and patients are usually happy to share their experience. So, what’s the best way to ask them to leave a review?
Request internal feedback first
If you’re unsure about whether a patient had a positive experience, asking for internal feedback first is a good idea. This feedback is only shared with the practice and provides the opportunity to address any concerns the patient may have before they decide to share their experience on Google or Facebook. If the patient has good things to say, you can feel confident asking them to leave a review on a public review site.
Ask at an appointment
Before a patient leaves the office, ask if they would be willing to leave a review. When the patient agrees, let them know when they can expect to see the review request. In many cases, it’s best to send the request the same day while the experience is still fresh in the patient’s mind. Response rates increase when a person anticipates seeing a request from the practice and has committed to providing a review.
Request reviews via email
Requesting reviews via email is a no-brainer and can be one of the most effective ways to generate new reviews. You likely already have a list of email addresses that you use for other marketing purposes, so why not put that list to good use to help build your online reputation? Here a few best practices to get started:
- Personalize the email. Compose your request with as much personalization as possible. Use the patient’s name in the subject line and email greeting to acknowledge each recipient. Personalization helps encourage higher open and response rates.
- Be polite. Keep in mind that you are asking people for a precious resource, their time. Your request should reflect your appreciation for someone doing you a favor and should never sound pushy, encourage dishonesty, or include a bribe in exchange for a review.
- Use a good subject line. A subject line that grabs the reader’s attention leads to higher open rates, which in turn can lead to more reviews. It’s always a good idea to test a few variations and adjust as you find what works best. A few recommendations include:
- Would you do (Business Name) A Quick Favor?
- Hi (First Name), A Quick Favor?
- How did we do?
- We want your feedback.
Keep the message simple. Your request doesn’t need to be lengthy. Three or four sentences is more than enough. If you’d like the recipient to leave a review on a specific site, make it easy for them, and provide clear instructions about how to do it. Here are a few examples you can start with:
Hi (First Name),
Thank you for visiting us recently. We hope we provided you with the highest-level of service. Would you mind taking a minute to leave us a review on (review site)? It will only take a minute, just click HERE (insert link to review site).
ABC Plastic Surgery
Hi (First Name),
Thank you for choosing ABC Plastic Surgery. Our goal is always to exceed your expectations. Please leave us a review on (review site). It will only take a moment of your time, but your feedback will help us improve as a company.
ABC Plastic Surgery
Request Reviews via Text Message (SMS)
Requesting reviews via text (SMS) messages may be one of the best ways to increase the number of reviews left by your patients. Why is it effective? Unlike other forms of communication, people always read their texts, usually within 90 seconds.
Consider the following:
- Text messages have an average open rate of 98% compared to just 15%-20% open rate for emails.
- An estimated 90% of the American population uses texting as a form of communication.
- Anyone with a smartphone can receive a text message without having to install an additional app. In fact, 56% of all online reviews originate from a mobile device.
Before you start requesting reviews via text, there are a few essential things you need to know.
You Should Gain Consent to Send Text Messages
Legally, you should gain consent before sending a text message to a mobile device. Text messages are regulated by the U.S Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Penalties for violations can result in fines ranging from $500 to $1500 per violation.
The type of consent you need varies based on the type of text message you send. For example, sending a promotional text message with a discount for a service or procedure requires express written consent, whereas sending a transactional text message like an appointment reminder does not. There are no clear guidelines defining whether review requests are promotional or transactional, so we encourage you to err on the side of caution. As a best practice, you should get express written consent before contacting patients via text. We outline some simple methods for gaining opt-in below.
Additional recommendations for being TCPA compliant include, but are not limited to:
- Maintaining a record of each patient’s consent for at least four years after the date it was given.
- Providing information about how the patient can opt-out at any time.
- Disclosing that message and data rates may apply.
- Sending messages only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the recipient’s time zone.
Here are a few easy ways to get the consent you need to stay safe:
- Verbally Ask. Request permission to send patients texts when they are scheduling an appointment. If they are interested, have the paperwork ready to sign when they arrive.
- Add an opt-in to your patient forms. Include a section on your forms where patients provide consent to receive text messages.
- Send an email. Send an email inviting patients to opt-in to provide their consent.
Gaining consent from patients may feel like a big task, but keep in mind thousands of businesses send text messages every day and rarely run into issues. By following the simple steps outlined above, you can be one of those businesses.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. For questions regarding TCPA and compliance, please contact your legal counsel.
Just like review requests via email, review requests via text should be short and simple –perhaps even more so because of character limitations with texts. Here are a few examples:
Hi (First Name), Would you please take a moment and share your experience with (Business Name) on Google? Here is the link (Google link). Thanks for your help.
Hi (First Name), Thank you for choosing (Business Name). Would you please leave us a review on Facebook? (Facebook URL) It will only take a second, but it will make a huge difference to our company. Thank you!
Hi (First Name), Would you please help us by reviewing (Business Name) online? Just click the following link to get started: (Website URL) Thank you in advance.
Create a Landing Page
Your website is the perfect place to invite patients to leave a review. A dedicated landing page with icons that link to public review sites is a great way to encourage patients to share their experience with your practice. After creating the page, share the link on your social media profiles and add it to your email signature as a friendly reminder to patients that you are interested in their feedback.
When To Ask For Reviews
The number of reviews left for your practice can be affected by the time and day you send review requests. You’ll also want to consider where the patient is in their recovery journey. Sending a request for a review while a patient is still uncomfortable after a surgical procedure might not be the ideal time. So when should you ask for reviews?
- In the afternoon. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to leave reviews on Google in the afternoon.
- Mid-week. People are more likely to leave reviews after the stress of a new work week is over and before heading into weekend activities
- During a follow-up appointment. Many patients have a moment when they are so pleased with their results and filled with gratitude. This is an ideal time to ask them for a review.
- At a fixed point in the recovery process. This could vary wildly depending on what services and procedures you offer, but it’s a good idea to come up with a plan based on the typical recovery time for the procedure.
How To Respond To Reviews in a HIPAA Compliant Way
More than half of the people who leave a review expect a response from the business within a week. It’s important to let your consumers know you value and appreciate their feedback. As a best practice, you should respond to all reviews, both positive and negative.
Keep in mind that all review responses must be HIPAA compliant, meaning that the response cannot reveal any details about medical care or a patient’s identity. Fines for breaking HIPPA rules range from $100 to $50,000 per violation, so it’s important to be vigilant when crafting a response. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Be prepared. Take a moment to collect your thoughts before responding to any review. Better yet, have some response templates drafted and ready. If the review provides negative feedback, it may be wise to step away from the computer before responding to maintain a professional and calm tone in the reply.
- Thank the reviewer. A simple “thank you” demonstrates that you appreciate feedback and take reviews seriously to create a better experience for all patients.
- Offer a general response. The key to avoiding HIPAA fines is to keep the reply general while remaining sincere and appreciative. Never acknowledge health or personal information, even if the person who left the review includes such information. Phrases like “Our goal is to provide excellent care for all our patients.” or “We appreciate your feedback.” will help avoid including specifics about an individual or their treatment.
- Move the conversation offline. One of the best ways to remain HIPAA compliant is to move the conversation offline, especially if the review is negative. Provide a name and a phone number in the response that will connect the patient with someone who can discuss their concerns in more detail.
Positive Review Response Templates
Responding to positive reviews is an excellent way to reiterate the positive aspects of someone’s experience and influence future customers.
Thank you so much for your positive feedback and for taking the time to post this review. We will be sure to share your feedback with our team.
We are so grateful for your kind words. Thanks for sharing your review with the community and us.
We are so very appreciative of your thoughtful review. We strive hard to ensure we always provide the highest level of care and respect. We will be sure to share your feedback with our team.
Negative Review Response Templates
A negative review is bound to happen, but nearly half of all consumers indicated they were more likely to visit a business if the business responded to negative reviews. While negative feedback can be frustrating and disheartening, it’s important to reply in a professional, courteous manner. Apologize, show empathy, and keep your response short to avoid escalating the situation further.
Thank you for your feedback. We were disappointed to hear about your experience and want to learn more. Would you be willing to give us a call at (Phone) or email us at (email) so we can make things right?
Thank you for the review. We are sorry to hear about your experience. We pride ourselves on treating everyone with the utmost level of care and respect. Please give us a call at (Phone) or email us at (Email) so we can address your concerns. We look forward to speaking soon.
Due to privacy regulations, we’re unable to address any of your specific comments in detail. However, please know that we aim to provide the highest quality of care for our patients and take your feedback seriously. Please give our Office Manager a call at (Phone) so that we can discuss your concerns and resolve this matter.
Consumers are increasingly placing trust in the opinions others share online when making purchasing decisions. There’s no better way to get reviews than by focusing on creating an excellent customer experience to create raving fans. In addition to improving your website’s visibility in search results, reviews can help boost your reputation and instill confidence in future patients, making requesting and responding to reviews a necessary activity for every medical practice.