The healthcare industry is highly competitive—and vision care is no exception. With more than 40,000 optometrists and roughly 19,000 ophthalmologists currently operating in the United States, one of the biggest challenges practitioners face is building and sustaining a loyal patient base. And, just like businesses in other industries, endorsements from happy customers are one of the strongest selling tools you have available.
Below are three ways online reviews benefit your eye care practice.
They build trust.
In the same way people search for online reviews before purchasing an item they need, trying a new restaurant, or staying at an Airbnb, your prospective patients will be on the lookout for positive reviews about your eye care practice. In fact, 72% of patients seek out online reviews before selecting a new health care provider.
When someone sees an abundance of four- and five-star reviews, it shows them that other patients were very happy with the care and treatment they received at your practice. This immediately serves to build trust and credibility, letting them know that the services you provide and the treatment they can expect from you and your staff are top notch.
For new startups and smaller solo practices especially, displaying testimonials on your website, in your social media accounts, and in your marketing and advertising content sets you apart from your competitors and makes it easier to attract new patients.
They boost your online visibility.
A recent survey about customer experience trends found that 80% of people begin their search for a new health care provider on the internet. And in fact, three out of five would-be patients (63%) said they would choose one provider over another because of a strong online presence—and that includes reviews.
Like any other type of business, ophthalmic practices with a large number of online reviews (such as through Google or Yelp) will earn a higher organic ranking, meaning they will show up first on the search engine results page. And because internet users rarely scroll past the first or second page of search results, a higher ranking means more people will see your practice when searching online for an eye care provider.
They tell you what you're doing right (or wrong).
Pay close attention to what your patients are saying about your practice because these are often the key value points that help you stand out from competitors and make your business more attractive to new patients. From a marketing standpoint, the specific keywords and terms they use to describe your services can be leveraged in your ads and promotional materials to make sure you are reaching your target audience.
Even negative reviews can be valuable because they pinpoint areas where there may be room for improvement within your practice. For example, do your patients complain about long wait times? If so, you may want to consider upgrading to digital equipment to increase efficiency and streamline patient flow.
What's the best way to solicit patient reviews?
Many ophthalmic professionals are hesitant to ask for reviews. However, more often than not, your patients are happy to provide them, especially if they are satisfied with their experience.
One of the simplest ways to solicit reviews is via email. After each appointment, send a brief email asking patients about their experience and provide an easy-access link for them to leave a review. Your subject line can be as simple as, "How was your recent appointment? We'd love to hear your feedback!"
Your social media sites are also a great source for patient testimonials, and you can even designate a place on your website where people can leave a review.
Where should you use patient reviews?
First and foremost, patient reviews should definitely have a place on your website. Use them on your home page, in banners and sidebars, on individual service pages, and/or on a designated review page. Apart from your website, you can include testimonials in your advertising content, spotlight them on social media, and even include them in your patient emails.
Bottom line: Positive patient reviews are a powerful marketing tool, and you should take full advantage of the benefits they provide for your ophthalmic practice.