When it comes to promoting your practice, why not let your patients speak out? Good testimonials—reviews and comments—can be powerful marketing tools. Allowing your patients to give their views can enhance your credibility and produce leads for your practice. These testimonials can have a positive influence on new patients who are seeking your services, and also on loyal patients’ choices in purchasing hearing care products.
“Testimonials are rewarding and motivate staff to continue to provide quality service,” says Michele Ahlman, president and CEO of ClearSounds.com and ClearDigital Media of Burr Ridge, Ill, “And more importantly, testimonials empower patients.”
By generating and using testimonials in text, audio or video format on your website, social media, and in your office, you propel your sales effort into credible third-party recommendations for your practice. This added credibility helps make the patients’ decisions easier. And patient patterns of purchase are made clear in a recent Patients’ Path to Healthcare Purchase Study sponsored by CareCredit. Many consumers look for hearing healthcare options both online and offline, and their decision to purchase follows a predictable pattern that includes following recommendations and reviews from friends, family…and other consumers.
BrightLocal, a firm that provides local search marketing tools, also released key findings of a 2016 consumer review survey. These results showed how online reviews play an increasingly important role in the purchasing decision:
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they’re asked to
- 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business
- 74% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more
Tip #1: Know what makes a good testimonial (and where to get it)
- Includes key benefits. A general comment doesn’t tell the reader much. But when it gives specifics that offer more substance for the claims, then it is more effective. It backs up what is stated with actual facts or figures.
- Is credible. Aim to include the first name, last name initial, and hometown of each person who gives a review to show that they are real people. Include a photo when available. (Or better yet, a video.)
- Is comparative. Did the reviewer try to get another product elsewhere and didn’t find what they were looking for, before they found your practice with its wider variety of products? Pick testimonials that set your practice apart.
- Is not “salesy.” This is an honest, unbiased review of how well your services, products, and/or follow-up care work for the reviewer.
- Overcomes skepticism. It has the power to convince “tough sell” prospects that your practice really can make a difference.
Get started…by reaching out to loyal patients to ask if they would give a statement about their experience with your practice. Begin by giving them a simple way to do so by posting a review on your website.
Tip #2: Try different methods to obtain testimonials
- Put a link on your website. An easy-to-complete form lets your customers give a quick review by following the prompt: “Tell us how our services helped you!”
- Ask your loyal patients to write Yelp reviews. They can also “like” your practice on Facebook and include comments.
- Use Video. Have a video camera ready (or smartphone with built-in video) to record your patients’ testimonials during their office visit:
- Be sure to hold your smartphone/video camera horizontally when recording. Use a tripod to hold your recorder still to get clearer images.
- For the background, locate a place in your reception area or consultation room to give the audience a “feel” for your office setting and staff. You may also consider doing a quick video shoot outdoors. Be sure to avoid wind noises, glare and poor lighting.
- Ask referring physicians to give a commentary. These types of testimonials should focus on your professional experience, unique training, and skills.
- Ask patients for reviews as part of your follow-up. When following up, tell the patient that if they are happy about the services they received, you’d really appreciate it if they would post their feedback on your website—or if you may do so with their permission.
- Keep a simple patient testimonial template handy so that you can fill it out while a patient is in the office. This is a quick way to capture the words you need. Be sure not to use any testimonials without written permission—to protect yourself from patients who change their mind or refute giving their authorization. Have patients sign a media release form to give their consent, keep it on file, and give the patient a copy to take home for their records. (See template and media release sample forms at the end of this article.)
Tip #3: Use a variety of media to display your patient testimonials
On your website — under a ‘Testimonials’ section and/or placed on pages relating to procedures mentioned in the testimonial.
In promotional material — including brochures, flyers, and any video you use in your waiting room.
Within blog posts and articles you publish on your website and elsewhere on the Internet.
In a framed photo gallery in the hallways and main waiting room.
Inside a presentation book in the waiting room of your practice.
Hearing News Network Waiting Room Screen. (If you don’t yet have a TV with HNN in your clinic, contact Clear Digital Media for details.) This service allows you to show testimonials from patients and physicians in a continuous loop.
In e-blasts, mailings, newsletters, and handouts — When you outline a particular procedure or benefit of your clinic in a handout, include a patient testimonial that also mentions the same benefit. This lends more credibility to what you’re saying.
YouTube and social media video. Testimonials may be posted in video format, which could inspire more confidence than text-only. If prospects see and hear someone describing advantages of your clinic, it tends to be more persuasive.
Social media (FB, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn). Invite your patients, colleagues and others to “share this article or post” on their favorite platform(s).
Dealing with negative reviews—managing your brand and your online reputation
Your practice’s reputation is important and can take a long time to develop. Yet, it can be compromised by negative word-of-mouth or poor online reviews. If you get a patient with a grievance that posts negative comments about you, what can you do?
The most effective way to deal with negative reviews is to gather and post positive, convincing testimonials. Also, address any issues head-on. Post your own response to a negative review, making sure that it is very professional and positive. For example, you might post a response, such as: “We are so sorry to hear that you did not have a positive experience during your last visit at our clinic. We pride ourselves in providing the best care possible to our patients, so please call our office so we can discuss how to improve your experience with us.” When potential clients scan through reviews and see that you face any issues directly, it shows your honesty and willingness to handle problems—putting you back in a positive light.
The testimonials you post and that others share should help reduce reader anxiety or doubts, and also present transparent solutions that your practice strives to offer.
Use customer testimonials to attract new patients…and try to turn loyal patients into your advocates and evangelists. Remember…if you are not including testimonials on your website, you are missing out on an easy, inexpensive marketing tool. Most people would prefer to take a referral from a “friend” or other consumers than make a healthcare decision or purchase based on an pushy sales pitch. When they hear a heartfelt review from someone like themselves, they’re bound to put more trust in the care provider, products, and your practice!
Sample Questions for a Testimonial Template
Keep a template on hand, with some sample questions:
- How does this practice compare with others you’ve visited or bought products from in the past?
- Tell us your views on how our staff and the audiologist at our clinic addressed your hearing health needs?
- How do you feel about the way your hearing health concerns were handled or resolved?
- How likely are you to recommend our practice to others?
Please sign the Testimonial Media Release & Consent Form, which gives us permission to use your comments for promotional purposes.
Note: If patients give a testimonial, thank them afterward. Be certain you do not make promises for free treatments, other gifts, or any payment for their review.
Sample Media Release & Consent Form
I, <FirstName LastName>, agree that <Practice Name> can use my “testimonial” on their website or other marketing materials and public relations activities to promote their practice. I approve the content (and images, if applicable) of my testimonial and hereby release <Practice Name> from any damages based on my testimonial.
I also authorize <Practice Name> to use my name, brief biographical information, and the testimonial as defined on this form. I hereby give my permission for <Practice Name> to copy, exhibit, publish or distribute the testimonial for purposes of publicizing <Practice Name> services or for any other lawful purpose. I reviewed this authorization form and hereby give my consent to release my testimonial, as indicated above.
Printed Name: _________________________________________
Street Address: ______________________________________
City, State, Zip: ________________________________________
In most cases, the signed consent form(s) can be kept in a private file by your practice.
Note: Some areas, such as New York, have a public policy about using testimonials. Check with your local health authority or state board. If patients simply talk about their experiences at your practice, this would be a “personal description.” Consider substituting a word other than “testimonial,” such as “commentary” or “statement.”