Patients’ criteria for finding and choosing the right doctor have changed dramatically in the last few years. People search for other patients’ recommendations and experiences, and make their own decisions on the basis of these references. Despite the drawbacks of online recommendations (for example, it is practically impossible to verify whether the patient is real), we believe they are useful and people, future patients, rely on them. Additionally, the Google search engine also uses references as one aspect for result classification and ranking when searching for internet pages of individual practices.
The most difficult thing for the majority of doctors is to convince patients to share their positive experiences online.
Below is a list of tips on how to convince clients/patients to write a recommendation.
Step 1: Get important information during the patient’s first visit
During the first visit, ask the patient for information about how they use the internet. You can ask the following questions:
- Today, the internet is main way that clients/patients to find out about our practice. Do you use any of the following? (Please tick all that apply).
Do you blog? Can you tell us the link to your blog? http://......................................
- Which website helped you find our practice, or information about the procedure you are interested in?
Keep this information in the patient’s file. Why?
If the patient has a blog or uses a social networking site, it is highly probable that he/she will be happy to recommend your services online. At the same time the information will give you the chance to verify whether the patient uses the internet to ‘bad-mouth’ others. If so, you should consider whether you are interested in such a patient.
Step 2: During the last appointment ask the patient: “Can you do me a favor?”
If they say “of course”, explain to them that you value their opinion and evaluation of the procedure which you have conducted. Ask the patient to share their experience online, to insert their recommendation – anonymously if they prefer – and share their emotions and impressions. You can also use the information from question number 1: “I can see that you are on Facebook – it is an excellent place for sharing experiences. Please rate or recommend our practice there.”
Step 3: Give the patient the ‘recommend us’ card
The card should include the link (URL) to your own website, where the patients can find recommended links to websites and portals where they can write their recommendation. These should of course include the link to the recommendations page on your profile on Estheticon.com.
This is how you can regulate the input on the recommended pages. If you have enough positive recommendations on a particular page, you can direct your clients to other pages.
Step 4: Arrange a specific time
This is a key and critical moment most doctors underestimate or skip over entirely. People generally are more likely to complete a task if they have a binding deadline. Deadlines force us to prioritize and limit our procrastination in relation to the promised assignment.
If the patient says he will write the recommendation in the evening, your reaction should be: “That’s great. I will look at it in the evening.” This will make the patient feel the need to complete what he promised. After a couple of days you can also send your patient an email with a short reminder and a link to your website where they can find further links to place their recommendations/ratings.
You may feel awkward and uncomfortable chasing your patient like this, but we assure you that it works!