Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Your Marketing Questions Answered by an Expert . . . part 4 of 4

Dayna: Doctors are asking me “What do I do if someone posts a bad review on Yelp or one of the other search engines?

Naomi: This is a great question about an increasingly important area of marketing known as Online Reputation Management.  When it comes to your online reputation, knowledge is power, so it’s important to Google your name and/or your practice name on a monthly basis to find out what is already out there about you.

If there is a negative review somewhere online about your practice, first of all, know that you are not alone. Most highly reputable, beloved local businesses somehow manage to upset at least one customer. Somehow, you just upset the wrong one.

The best protection against negative reviews is having positive reviews from happy patients posted on a variety of websites as a prophylactic measure – as well as to balance out (and hopefully, to drown out) any negative reviews. If you haven’t already begun to do so, the easiest way to get started is to simply ask your happiest and most loyal patients to post a review about the practice online. Once you know which websites come up in a search for your own name (plus your city, state), you’ll know where to tell patients to post their reviews! Three of the most important sites to have positive reviews on are Google Places, Yahoo Local and Yelp.

Several words of caution:               
1)      Don’t treat online reviews like a one-time task to check off your to-do list. Cultivating a positive online reputation should be an ongoing part of your practice’s marketing efforts. Get everyone on the team involved, and make sure they know what the goal is! My goal would be to shoot for two positive reviews per month until you hit double digits, and then one per month…forever.

2)      It’s important not only to have good reviews online, but also to make sure that they are real, compelling and credible! Think of it this way: if you found a restaurant online that had a bunch of five-star ratings, how would that make you feel? What if the restaurant had been open for five years, but all of the ratings were posted in the past two weeks? Might that affect their credibility? So – it’s important to ask REAL patients to post REAL reviews. Please - don’t create profiles for patients and post testimonials they’ve shared with you as online reviews. Don’t have staff or family members (even if they are also patients) post reviews. DO ask happy patients to post a review every time they pay you a compliment. You can even email them the link of where to go to post them!

3)      Regarding responding to negative reviews: first, ask yourself if the complaint is clinical in nature. If so, please get legal advice before you consider responding or taking any kind of action. If, like most online reviews, the comment is about an alleged interpersonal or customer service issue, you have a choice whether or not to respond. My general advice is to take the high road whenever possible rather than publicly going on the defensive; the last thing you want is to give the comment any more credence or attention.

Naomi Cooper is President of Minoa Marketing, a dental marketing and social media consultancy based in Los Angeles, CA and serves as Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute. She has over fifteen years of marketing experience – and a ten-year track record of enabling dental practices and dental companies to achieve their marketing goals. Naomi is also a published author, a sought-after speaker and an industry opinion leader. She can be reached via e-mail at naomi@minoamarketing.com.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Better Way to Check on Insurance Benefits

Get your time back!  A better way to check on insurance benefits
In my work teaching dental practices how to become more productive and efficient by using their Dentrix software, I’ve noticed that many front office staff are still using old, slow methods for checking on their patients’ insurance benefits.  Many offices I visit are still doing what I used to do back in the day when I worked the front desk:  spending hours on the phone with insurance companies getting routed from one phone tree to the next and then waiting around for fax backs that seemed to take forever. .   Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s no longer any need to waste that kind of time.  I’m happy to say that the days of phone and fax are behind us and there is a better way. . 
Current, accurate information about insurance is, of course, a critical need for any front desk.  Having real-time information at your fingertips allows you to relay the information to your patient so they can budget for their dental care and allows you to collect the patient's portion at the time of service.  But, the time and energy cost of retrieving this information the old way is very very high.  So high that in the practice where I worked, we realized that we either needed to find a more efficient way, or hire a new front desk person just to handle insurance issues. 
Our solution?  We added eCentral Insurance Manager to the list of the  eServices we were using with our Dentrix software.  I’ll bet you have seen the little red e’s on the Family File in the insurance box - haven’t you?  Well, once you sign up for eCentral, that little red “e” becomes a one-click portal to insurance information.  All you have to do is click on the little red “e” and it searches for that patient’s insurance benefits and provides you with an instant, real-time benefits breakdown and maximum used.  Really.  It is that simple.

Now I know there are some of you out there that are saying “Sounds great, but I am not going to spend the $ on eCentral.”  I respect your desire to save a dollar – we all get that – but I want you to look at whether this is one of those expense that will actually make you money.  If you can cut down on the time your front office is spending on the phone with insurance companies by just one hour, your front office could be spending that time calling patients with unscheduled treatment or past due hygiene appointments.  Also, one hour a day in increased productivity adds up to a lot more profits for the entire team. 
And, here’s a thought:  What if you had a patient in your office with a broken tooth or toothache and you had the time to treat them?  Wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that opportunity?  You can, but only if you can get the insurance information instantly, because the doctor will need to make sure the patient has a financial arrangement before he gives anesthetic.  If your office is using eCentral Insurance Eligibility, the probability of you being able to treat that patient on the spot just went up because you can get his insurance information in about 35 seconds.
So, I understand that adding eServices costs the office a monthly fee but I look at it as a way to spend more time with patients building relationships, scheduling treatment and increasing your hygiene retention.  I think if you pencil it out, you’ll find a cost savings in there that will benefit everyone involved.  And, you won’t have to spend your time lost in the dreaded phone tree maze! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Your Marketing Questions Answered by an Expert . . . part 3 of 4

Dayna:  Doctors are asking me “Do I really need a Facebook page?  If I do, how do we keep up with it and what do we post?”

Naomi:  Yes. There are now 800 million people on Facebook (350 million on mobile devices alone), and over 50% of them log on to the site on any given day. Facebook is where people go for a real-time, personalized news feed from their friends and family – as well as increasingly, from the businesses they “like”.  But again, don’t feel like you have to master this all on your own. First of all, if you have at least one team member who is a member of Gen X or Gen Y, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a Facebook expert already in your employ. And secondly, there are a number of great companies that have popped up in the past 3-5 years offering assistance in this arena to the dental professional. Visit any dental tradeshow exhibit hall and you’ll find a plethora of companies who will manage your Facebook page, create posts for you and help train you and your team how to use this incredible patient communication tool. A few ideas for Facebook posts:

-          An inspirational quote from a famous figure
-          A link to a healthy recipe
-          A photo of the team in the classroom at a CE event**
-          A link to a page on your practice website featuring the bio/photo of a new or existing team member **
-          A message to patients -- or a special offer for patients
-          Practice news
-          News of local interest
-          A link to an article on general health or oral health
-          Full-face, professionally taken “after” photos from a recently completed case**
-          A link to a case featured on a referring doctor’s website**
-          A link to a patient education video or article**
-          A link to a patient testimonial or video testimonial**

**Remember, all testimonials, photos or video (of/from patients or team members) generally require a signed release.

What not to post on Facebook:
-          “Before” photos, intraoral photos or retracted photos
-          Clinical articles
-          Pictures of the team at happy hour
-          Broken links
-          Any photo or video or testimonial without a written release from the person featured

Naomi Cooper is President of Minoa Marketing, a dental marketing and social media consultancy based in Los Angeles, CA and serves as Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute. She has over fifteen years of marketing experience – and a ten-year track record of enabling dental practices and dental companies to achieve their marketing goals. Naomi is also a published author, a sought-after speaker and an industry opinion leader. She can be reached via e-mail at naomi@minoamarketing.com.