What is the Amazon Effect?
The Amazon Effect reflects Amazon’s strategic use of customer reviews to encourage shoppers to purchase the item(s) reflected in those reviews. When previous buyers leave a positive review that reveals reasons for their purchase and their experience with the reviewed item, shoppers feel encouraged that these unpaid reviewers are leading them correctly and are more likely to purchase said item(s).
Furthermore, by viewing multiple reviews on a given item, shoppers both create and encourage an Amazon norm: that of leaving a review. This self-perpetuating cycle results in a shopping experience that provides, at its base, a sense of safety and trust, as shoppers rely on the experiences of those who purchased before them. It is one of the reasons that Amazon is so popular (coupled with its historic rapid delivery of orders).
How Your Practice Can Create the Amazon Effect
Similarly, your practice can create the Amazon Effect by first understanding the asset value of positive reviews. Positive reviews are as valuable to your practice as they are to Amazon and any other business. Therefore, it is urgent that you create a pathway for patients to post reviews for others so that they can be positively influenced to schedule a consultation with you.
First, Monitor Your Review Status
Whether you are aware of it or not, patients are posting reviews about you, your office, and even your staff. There is no putting your head in the sand about this: people are typing in the name of your practice into Yelp, HealthGrades, RealSelf, and other sites to read opinions about you. It’s urgent that you are consistently aware of what’s being said.
How consistently? Daily. You likely do not have time for this activity, so assign this task to a reliable staff member who will check daily every site on which your name and your practice name appears. Instruct this staff member to do the following:
- Thank each person who posts a positive review
- Inform you immediately of a negative review
- Obtain your input as to how to respond to each negative review
- Follow up with patients who post a negative review offline
- Give you a written tally at the end of each week that shows the number of positive and negative reviews, responses to negative reviews, and follow-up plans with negative reviewers. It should also reflect the location of the reviews, such as:
- 6 positive reviews this week on Yelp
- 1 negative review this week on Yelp
- A copy of the response that was posted
- Attempts to contact the patient who posted a negative review
- 0 reviews this week on HealthGrades
Does this seem like too much work? PUMC has a system that will notify you of incoming reviews and the location where they were received, and a dashboard where you can respond to reviews and generate reports to see how you are performing.
Avoid Harvesting Reviews
While it may seem logical, having patients leave reviews while the patient is in the office can, and probably will backfire. Google, along with other review sites, consider this to be review harvesting and they will work to actively suppress reviews when too many are received from the same IP Address.
How to Create Positive Online Reviews
Make it easy. Generally, patients are well-meaning but busy. The best way to encourage reviews is to just ask and make it extremely easy to leave you a review. How?
- Have prominent links on your website that patients can click through to sites such as RealSelf, Yelp, Google, and other sites.
- Send them email review requests.
- Do you send emails or e-newsletters to your patients about upcoming events, new products and/or services, new staff members, or other news about your practice? Be sure to include links to the sites where you’d like reviews to be posted.
- Do you ever SMS patients? If so, add review links there as well.
In other words, every time you interact remotely with a patient, ask for a review. How likely are they to leave a review if you ask them to? Whether you ask them in person or via an email or text message, the answer is that it’s probably more than you think.
Google Reviews Are The Most Valuable
According to 2022 online review statistics, 63.6% of consumers say that they are likely to check Google reviews before visiting a business. Yelp ranks second, followed by TripAdvisor and Facebook. Google reviews are the most valuable because they are the most visible on their search engine via review snippets, Google star ratings in organic search results, and on Google Maps when a prospective patient types in your name and/or the name of your practice. This also somewhat decreases the value of other review sites as they are visible immediately without having to visit a review site.
How to Capitalize on Google Reviews
If your practice is not set up on Google Business, you should do this right away.
Once you have provided the necessary information, you will receive an email each time a review is posted. Be sure to set up the staff member who is monitoring your online reviews as a Google Profile Manager or set up your email to forward each Google review email from your inbox to theirs, if you want to be sure to get a copy of each review.
Share the Love
Repurpose those reviews on your website and on social media. You worked hard for these reviews. Turn them into a practice asset by using your satisfied patients’ reviews to promote your business.
Quality social media content can be hard to come by. A good, detailed review of your practice can garner lots of attention. Be sure to shout out to any employees that may be mentioned in the review, so they know that they are appreciated.
Displaying your review rating on every page of your website shows visible success. Ask PUMC how you can do this with their Global Online Reviews (GOR) system.
Bad Reviews Hurt Your Practice
Obviously, glowing 4-star and 5-star reviews are your goal, but we all know that sometimes, despite your best efforts, someone will post something negative. And unfortunately, 94% of consumers say a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business. Just remember, this is not the end of the world. While an immediate “thank you” should be given to each positive review, an immediate response should also be posted to most negative reviews. Why? Because 53% of customers expect business to respond to negative reviews.
Responding to reviews in general is tricky for medical practices. But, responding to them in a generic, HIPAA-appropriate way is better than just ignoring them completely. It shows that you care and that can lessen some of the negative impact of a killer bad review.
Thank them for their feedback and try to take the conversation offline in your reply. Just be sure not to apologize and avoid being defensive in your response. A short, concise response that validates your acknowledgement of their concern, followed by an offer to meet with them to resolve the issue is the right approach. Something like this can be used for most negative reviews: “Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. Our practice is committed to delivering the best experience possible for every patient, and we work hard to maintain good patient relationships. Please contact [office manager’s name] as soon as possible at [phone number] so that we can discuss your experience or if you have further comments or suggestions.”
Keep in mind that even negative reviews can be helpful in that they may identify heretofore unrecognized issues within the practice.
The Bottom Line
The best way to utilize the Amazon Effect is by acknowledging that online reviews lead to practice growth. You can use quality online reviews to convert shoppers into customers and deputize your patients to share their positive experiences to improve your practice growth. Patients and prospective patients may actually want to share their experiences with your practice. Help them do this by:
- Assigning a staff member or team to read and respond to incoming reviews
- Actively requesting reviews from your patients in person and every time you remotely interact with them
- Making it easy to leave a review
- Utilizing a review management system like PUMC’s GOR to send emails and SMS messages requesting reviews, especially on Google
- Giving your reviews more visibility by sharing your 4- and 5-star reviews on social media and displaying your review rating on every page of your website
Call or contact PUMC online today!