If you’re like most physical therapy business owners, you underestimate the importance of online reviews, and you have no strategy for increasing them. In fact, one survey of small business owners showed that:
Only 50% owners think that receiving online reviews is important factor in driving business.
Just 13% have a strategy to increase their number of reviews I’ve talked to hundreds of physical therapy clinic owners, and can say without hesitation that, while these numbers look at all small business owners, they are representative of our profession’s outlook as well.
On the surface, these statistics don’t seem very troubling. But the fact is, online reviews are incredibly important marketing collateral for your physical therapy clinic. Reviews are an integral part in your prospective customer’s decision-making process. They are so integral in fact, that:
Nearly 9 in 10 consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business.
40% read customer reviews as a normal step in all of their local purchasing decisions.
90% of online consumers say that positive reviews influence their purchasing decision.
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
We all know that word-of-mouth referrals are the lifeblood of most physical therapy clinics, and if online reviews are nearly as impactful as a 1-on-1 conversation, then it’s something that needs to be at the center of your marketing strategy. With online reviews, you have the opportunity to influence people that:
Live in the same city as your clinic.
Are in need of physical therapy services, and
These people are actively looking for a solution online by searching “Physical therapy [your city]".
These customers are looking for reviews, and if your Google Local site looks like a barren wasteland, you may be asking “Well, how do I get my customers to review my clinic?”
Luckily, there are 4 steps that we use with our customers to help them drive reviews. We focus on Google+ Reviews because they impact Search Engine Optimization; the more reviews you get, the higher you rank when people are looking for a PT in your area.
Let’s take a look at how one of our customers, Train Boston, got 51 reviews (nearly all of which are 5 stars) in just a few months of work.
1. Create and Implement a Survey
I may have thrown you for a loop there! While this may not be the most intuitive place to start, it is essential for success. Your survey can be as simple or as long as you choose. Train Boston asks a single question:
“How likely is it that you would recommend Train Boston to a friend or family member?”
They then send this survey out to all of their patients at 3 strategic points during care. With this survey being sent out, they can then do simple analysis to find the cream of the crop.
2) Find Your Customer Evangelists
Your customer evangelists are your walking billboards (if you want to read more about customer evangelists, check this post out). They are in love with you and your clinic, and are more than willing to tell their friends and family about you.
What you want to do is create a running list of all of the people who scored highest on your survey, and leverage it in the following step.
3) Have a conversation with your evangelists at the right time
This is a critical juncture. Train Boston’s business manager, Terry, utilizes the list to understand who her most satisfied customers are. She can then cue that customer’s primary physical therapist to have a conversation with the patient at her date of discharge (Terry is also hands on and has some of these conversations herself). The conversation is very simple: once the patient shows her appreciation for Train Boston, the clinician says, “Thanks for the kind words! I would really appreciate it if you'd share your experience with us on our Google+ page.”
It is a simple request, it is perfectly reasonable within the confines of the situation, and certainly doesn’t come off as ‘sales-y’ or desperate (all fears that I hear from PT owners).
4) Follow up with an email
While your customer evangelists are more than happy to fill out a review for you, they are also incredibly busy and it tends to slip their mind once they leave the clinic. Now’s the time to get results by nudging them with a follow-up email. In the email, simply thank them for their business and provide them the links to your review pages & directions to complete a review. The conversation you had has already served as the primary ask, now you just have to make it easy for the customer to follow through.
If you follow these steps, you too can get the same results as Train Boston! They are now ranking higher in organic search, with a corresponding increase in new patient evals.
If you’re looking to find a way to put this entire process on autopilot, check out StriveHub Reach by clicking below:
Excited about leveraging online reviews for physical therapy marketing, but concerned about negative reviews? Click here, we've already got your back.