This week I sit down and talk with Podium’s Nico Dato to discuss customer interaction and reputation management. He offered some great advice that apply to us as private practice dentists. Go give it a listen on episode 83 of Business of Dentistry…
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Podium is a software as a service company (SaaS) out of Utah. They work with a variety of industries, including dental practices, to help with customer interaction, communication, and online reputation management. In our conversation on today’s episode of Business of Dentistry we talk about improving our communication, his tips on how we can use Google chat and three steps to dealing with negative reviews.
We begin by talking about what Podium is and what it provides for businesses. Podium software offers everything from setting appointments to feedback on the appointment to online reviews. Podium’s software exists as more of a platform with the focus being on interaction between the business and the consumer and is meant to help the practice and patient develop a stronger relationship.
To elaborate on that point I asked Nico to spell out what he sees dental practices not doing, and how they can improve regarding communication with patients.
There are a few common mistakes or missed opportunities he sees regularly. The first is how a practice communicates with its patients. What will determine the preferred method of communication is who your demographic is, so you must find out what is convenient for the patient AND for your practice. In general, the easier it is to keep in contact with your patients the more money you will make. You will have fewer no shows, more appointments will be kept and more patients will become repeated patients for the long-term.
As far as feedback and online reviews: getting positive reviews is good but the piece so many practices miss out on is the actual feedback within the reviews. So dig in and understand what the patients says in their review, and then make changes within the practice. This is what the really smart practices are doing – it is gold for them!
Being focused on those two things is what the best practices are doing: communicate with patients how they want to be communicated with and adjust your practice based on the feedback you get within your online reviews.
We also talk about Podium’s Google click to chat feature. This is Google’s attempt to add another way for consumers to interact with businesses. From Google’s search results you can call, get directions, go to the web site or now with the click to chat feature you can message the business. It’s basically a text message sent to your practice.
Podium plugs right into this feature so you can manage it through their software, versus going to an individual’s cell phone. Nico says they’ve seen a lot of dental practices receiving messages after hours from this feature. Patients communicate and ask questions at their convenience, and the convenience aspect is important because it means it is easier for a patient to come and see you. The easier it is for them the more likely they will be to choose you now and in the future.
I also wanted to know what he recommends doing when you get a negative review. He broke it down into 3 steps:
1. Respond calmly and from a detached perspective.
The person responding to the review should be detached from the situation and not emotionally involved. If that is not possible then make sure the person responding is level-headed and doesn’t get defensive. Of course it’s easy to become emotional about it because it’s your business and your livelihood but it won’t help the situation if you become defensive in your response.
2. Apologize and move the conversation offline.
As we said in step one, avoid defensive responses when you respond. Also when you respond apologize for the person’s experience and move the conversation offline. Offer to talk about it offline or via email. Give them a phone number and email address so they can communicate with you and your office.
This is good for the relationship with the reviewer but it also shows potential patients you will address their needs and work with them to right any wrong that may happen when they come to you.
3. Actually have the conversation offline.
Chat with patient offline either via email or on the phone, and hopefully come to a resolution. At this ponit you can often have them add another review or leave a follow up comment on their original review sharing how the issue was resolved.
On this episode we also talk about where you should focus on getting more reviews online, what it means to “gate” a patient and why you shouldn’t do it, and why collecting reviews should be done on an on-going basis. We finish up with details of Podium’s services including costs and contracts. Join us to hear all of those details on the 83rd edition of Business of Dentistry.