In the past five weeks, I have made 667 calls to Oral Surgery offices. I have spoken to about 287 different offices. On average I make about 30 calls per day during the week. Here is a report of my phone calls and emails over the past five weeks:
I have become pretty accustomed to seeing between 2-20 reviews on an Oral Surgeons Google Business pages. Occasionally I come across offices that are close to a hundred reviews (approximately <3%). But, when I came across Oral Surgery Tidewater (OST) I was certain I was misreading something. 300 REVIEWS?? For an Oral Surgeon? This has to be a glitch.
When I connected with OST’s Marketing Specialist, Ashley, I immediately realized I was not misreading anything, and there was no glitch.
Over the next 30 minutes I was on the phone with her, Ashley explained to me exactly how, over the last 20 months, their practice had very intentionally and strategically invested in processes and training to go from 29 reviews to over 300!
Here are my key takeaways from our conversation
Getting More Reviews Is Not Rocket Science
One of the first questions I asked Ashley was, “What is your secret, and what are you doing to get so many reviews?” I am not quite sure what I was expecting, but I thought it was going to be a pretty sophisticated strategy, or I thought she was going to say they force patients to leave reviews. But what she said was amazingly simple, yet incredibly brilliant:
“We started setting monthly goals, and then we would meet those, and set new ones.”
Setting those goals lead to getting the staff on board with asking patients if they would be interested leaving reviews.
Google Can Become A Big Referral Source
Like most other Oral Surgeons, OST still relies heavily on their referring dentists to drive production. Ashley insisted that referrals are still very important for their practice, and they still focus on developing relationships with referring dentists. But, when she started talking about their increase in production she said:
“What I will say is our production has gone up immensely this year, and they’re not necessarily from referrals. Last year, Google was ranked number 79 on our list of entities or referring sources, and now Google has been number 1 for the past four quarters.”
Referral Patterns Are Changing
As most Oral Surgeon would attest, dentists are not referring cases like they used to. OST is no different, Ashley said, “while dentists used to refer us every single patient, a lot of them are starting to train and do their own thing. We have several doctors who are now offering their own anesthesia. They are anesthesia trained and certified so they can put their own patients to sleep. So they don’t need to send them to us anymore.”
The Patient Journey Now Includes Doing Their Own Reseach
Understanding the patient’s journey from the chair at the dentist to the chair at the oral surgeon is critical. Ten years ago, when a patient was given a doctor recommendation from their dentist, they would usually go straight to that office and set up an appointment. But that is not the case anymore. Think about what the patient journey consisted of in 2005 compared to today:
Patient Journey In 2005:
Dentist Refers Patient To Specialist –> Patient Schedules Appointment
Patient Journey Today:
Dentist Refers Patient To Specialist –> Patient Looks At Referral Online –> Compares To Other Specialists In The Area –> Patient Schedules Appointment
In 2005, there was no easy place to go for consistent, reliable information to compare all doctors to each other. But, now that comparison happens almost instantaneously right within a Google search on the patient’s smartphone.
Reviews Can Make or Break Your Referral
Because of the additional research that patients are now doing, reviews are now playing a critical role in which office the patient calls. In OST’s case, they are now even capturing patients that were not initially referred to them. OST is now having instances where a dentist will refer a patient to one of their competitors, but the patients change their mind when they look up the offices.
“When the patient goes on to Google the address of the oral surgeon they have been referred to and they see our Google reviews, they are like, ‘Hold on. Why isn’t my dentist referring me here. I’m going to call this place instead.’ “
Don’t Just Talk About it. Be About It
While this all may sound like if you had 200 more reviews, your production would dramatically increase, it is important to heed Ashley’s advice.
“We do strive to provide 5-star service to every patient. That’s another thing that sets us apart. We don’t just kinda talk about it. We are about it. We are about customer care, customer service, and patient relations.”
This is the place for the classic adage, you can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. If the reviews are not authentic, and your practice does not genuinely care and focus on the patient experience, it will be immediately obvious to your patients, and can negatively impact your reputation.
Look At The Trends In Other Industries
Oral Surgery Tidewater has not always had over three hundred reviews. When Ashley first came to OST, she was faced with several skeptics in the office questioning why they would invest the time and energy in getting more Google reviews.
“When I first got here, people were like, Oh, I never check Google reviews. I’m like, I DO! I check them for everything. I couldn’t understand why we weren’t pushing them.”
Coming from a real estate background, Ashley drew on her own experience and intuition and realized that reviews have slowly begun to heavily influence consumer decision-making. While it may seem obvious now, two years ago, the correlation between increased production (in an Oral Surgery office) and Google Reviews was not so black and white.
However, the time and energy they have invested in Google Reviews has paid off. In fact, it has been better than anything else they have tried. According to Ashley, “One of the biggest returns that we have had in marketing is focusing on Google.”
Authenticity is Key
Faking your way to the top won’t get you anywhere.
First and foremost, you can be penalized for breaking Google’s review policy, but even then Google allows you to look and see where the review came from, when it was posted, and how active that user is on other sites. It is easy to see when reviews are not authentic. Ashley raised a good point regarding what goes through her mind when she sees a business with more Google reviews than another.
“When I see a business has more reviews than someone else, I read through the authenticity of the review, where it might be coming from, and the time frame. It’s research.”
Google Is A Big Deal
In summary, Google is not just used to find your office’s phone number and address anymore. Google is a critical step in the referral process, and patients are now doing their own research to verify what their dentist told them. OST is one of the first practice’s in the country to put this much energy and focus into their Google presence and it is paying off. Ashley said that “One of the biggest things is our online presence, our Google Reviews is one of the biggest things that we focus on.”
How beneficial has this been for them? Well, in Ashley’s own words, “If people aren’t pushing Google, I don’t know why. They need to be, because it is a big deal.”
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