In a world where people are glued to their cell phones, it’s important for dental practices to leverage mobile engagement. In particular, using short message service (SMS) to secure mobile testimonials is a great way for practices to get instant feedback from patients.
According to a Digital Channel Survey conducted by Gartner, SMS is one of the four most popular marketing tools for businesses today, yet 61% of mobile marketers surveyed do not tap into its full power. When used effectively, mobile testimonials can help dental offices elevate their online presence to attract and retain more patients and grow.
Testimonials Are the Lifeblood of Dental Practices
Using testimonials is one proven way to raise the profile of a practice. With healthcare consumerism on the rise, prospective patients are spending more and more time online researching dentists to select the best provider for their care.
Knowing this, ratings and reviews are a beneficial way to shine light on the quality of care and customer service provided by dental offices. Therefore, it is imperative for dental practices to increase their online visibility via ratings and reviews on sites such as Google My Business, Vitals, ZocDoc, and Healthgrades, among others.
Testimonials help dental practices to acquire and retain a revolving door of satisfied patients. Encouraging, promoting, and engaging with testimonials shows that an office cares about patient feedback. By monitoring and tracking these reviews, dental offices can better gauge how they are performing and adjust accordingly.
Along with positive reviews, negative reviews provide dental offices with an opportunity to acknowledge a patient’s concerns and improve their quality of care and service. Ideally, after resolving an issue, patients will go back and amend their negative review to a positive one. Requesting and receiving reviews is essential for dental practices to be made aware of their online reputation.
Convenience Makes A Difference
While there are multiple ways to engage and communicate with patients, it is important to identify and conduct outreach to them on their preferred channel. Otherwise, they may never receive the message.
In today’s digital economy, patients look for convenience and expect instant access to data at their fingertips. According to Drive Digital, the open rate for SMS texts is 98% with a 36% click-through rate. The open rate for email is 22% with a 2.9% click-through rate. Asking for a review via an email, phone call, or direct mail is becoming obsolete.
Many businesses such as airlines, hotels, restaurants, and food delivery services have already begun to engage their customers through text messages. In fact, according to a 2019 State of Texting Report, 76% of consumers are already receiving text messages from other businesses. Therefore, if dentists aren’t already leveraging the ability to communicate with patients via SMS, they are missing out.
If dentists are already interacting with their patients via SMS to confirm appointments, they should consider adding another layer of SMS engagement and ask patients to leave a review or fill out a survey. Following up via text message directly after a patient leaves the office is the most effective way to engage patients and inspire immediate action.
When conducting outreach via SMS, dental offices should not be focused on a patient opening the text message; rather, once opened, if the patient will engage with the call to action. When drafting these messages, dental practices need to be creative with their ask if they want to see real results.
Best Practices for Implementation
Once a dental practice has decided to leverage SMS as its preferred outreach to patients, it should develop and deploy a strategic mobile testimonial campaign. Below are some tips and techniques for consideration.
- Craft the content: The message should be short and sweet, ie, get to the point. Provide a call to action within the message and include a clickable link to direct the patient to a review site. Offer the necessary details, but don’t inundate the patient with too much information. If it is too long, the patient will not bother reading the content. Keep in mind that SMS has a limit of 160 characters per message, and we recommend keeping your outreach concise to one SMS message.
- When to send: Timing matters. It is more likely for a patient to leave a review immediately after the visit as the experience is still top of mind. If too much time lapses, the patient might feel less connected and therefore not engaged enough to leave a review. The recommendation is to reach out once or twice post-visit via SMS to request a review, but don’t overwhelm the patient with countless follow-ups.
- Say thanks: When patients take the time to post a review on a rating site or social media channel, be sure to thank them. When you reach out to let these patients know your office appreciates the time it took to leave an honest review, either positive or negative, patients will be more likely to leave reviews in the future.
- Measure performance: Once an SMS campaign is implemented, keep track of your office’s performance by monitoring, assessing, and benchmarking the results. Pay close attention to patient retention rates both before and after the mobile testimonial outreach to see how transparency and engagement can positively affect a practice.
Dentists need to pay attention to what their patients are saying in order to identify concerns, resolve gaps in care, and keep their patients satisfied. Mobile testimonials are just one method for compiling this type of feedback. Ideally, completing a mobile testimonial should be exactly like a trip to the dentist: quick, easy, and painless.
Mr. Clifford is the senior vice president of marketing for Binary Fountain, the leading provider of patient feedback management solutions. He brings more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry to his current role. He recently joined Binary Fountain from HCA, where he served as the senior director of digital marketing solutions. While at HCA, he created the vision for the organization’s enterprise-wide reputation management program and oversaw digital strategy for 171 hospitals, 119 free-standing surgery centers, 830 physician clinics, and multiple business units across the healthcare system. He received his BS in management information systems from Trevecca Nazarene University and an MBA from Lipscomb University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.