The importance of online customer reviews

Oct 18, 2021 | Practice Management Software, Tips

Customer advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing are two of the most important elements of business success. That’s why earning and showcasing online reviews for your health practice or clinic should be key components of your marketing strategy.

According to Qualtrics,

“93% of customers read online reviews before buying a product”.

When your potential clients manage to find you online due to your marketing and SEO endeavours, they’ll face a choice.

That choice will amount to either making a booking with you or your competitor. The deciding factor? Positive and negative online reviews.

Why do people leave online reviews?

There are usually two fundamentally opposed motivations when it comes to why people leave an online customer review.

To make the effort, the potential customer will have either experienced top service which left them glowing, or a woeful experience worthy of lament. The impetus is clear: provide excellent health services and you’ll get excellent reviews.

There’s a third option though – you actively encourage and directly ask for positive reviews.

Google Reviews: There are two big reasons why reviews on review sites are so important

Google Reviews are often central to the perceived quality or ‘value’ of a clinic’s services. There are two primary reasons why.

1)      When you’re found online, your website, contact details, map location and review score are bundled together in a ‘Google My Business’ snapshot. When such important information (central to booking your clinic’s services) is found in tandem with a Google Review score, that score becomes elevated in importance.

2)      Your SEO based Google rankings are boosted due to your Google review score. While a well-structured site and original keyword content contribute to good SEO rankings, your Google Review score can be a deciding factor as well. Conversely, poor reviews will hurt your Google rankings and lead to less interaction.

The value of positive reviews

Have a think about what you look for when searching for a local business. If you’re in the mood for Thai delivery and have a choice between two unknown restaurants, one with 4.5 stars and one with 3.9, which are you going to choose? That’s the value right there.

Not only will positive reviews grant you more enquiries, more bookings and more sales, this advantage will continue to pay off time after time. Positive feedback is a cornerstone of repeated and increased business.

Interestingly, this is becoming more prevalent as time goes on and generations advance. According to Forbes,

“91% of 18-34-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”

They are increasingly essential to decision making

The focus on online reviews, both negative and positive, is increasingly central to consumer decision making.

According to Review Trackers:

  • 94% of consumers say a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business.
  • ‘Review Interaction’ – which entails actions like searching for or filtering reviews, or clicking to expand and read the entire review – is up by 50% from pre-pandemic levels.
  • The most common filter applied is to see only companies with 4-star ratings and higher. So there is a big difference between being a 3.9 rated business and a 4.0, even if it’s a slim margin.

Social proof drives purchases

One of the key psychological components of decision making and consumer confidence is called ‘social proof’.

“The idea of social proof is that someone can be persuaded into trying a product or service simply because they’ve seen a positive review or read an expert quote that is linked to the product.” – Hubspot.

The theory of social proof is predicated on herd mentality, mistrust, increased value on impartiality, and the idea of celebrity.

When cynicism arises in a potential client’s mind due to their mistrust of your clinic’s marketing, independent reviews kick in.

The more reviews we see, the more positive they are and the more important the voice, the higher the chance we’ll trust that proof and commit to a sale or booking.

The best form of social proof you can get is through a celebrity or expert voice. While getting a celebrity to endorse your clinic may be difficult, if you can seek out field experts and convince them to give you a positive review or quote, this will pay dividends in social proof.

The cost of negative reviews

As previously mentioned, 93% of consumers will avoid a business based on a negative review. If you couple this with the fact that many consumers will actively filter businesses from consideration if they see an average of four stars or less, the effect is laid bare.

If you have a slew of negative comments from unhappy customers, coupled with low scores, you’ll find it difficult to attract potential clients in the first place. You’ll also have more trouble closing the deal when cold feet and ‘shopping around’ come into play.

Customer reviews are a learning opportunity for your business.

A final point to be considered is that of learning opportunities and growth as a clinic or health business. Once you see a negative review – pay attention. So, how can you fix that for next time? Is this a recurring theme you can rectify?

What about positive reviews? Can you get a good idea of what’s going well for you and then double down on this positive feedback?

Each end of the spectrum contains important lessons for how to best run your clinic, as well as ways to improve your online customer review scores.

Key online review takeaways

Now you have a better understanding of online reviews and their importance to your clinic, you should be concentrating your efforts on increasing positive reviews and decreasing negative reviews.

First, you simply need excellent customer service and to go above and beyond. Secondly, you should pay attention and take care of underperforming aspects of your health clinic. Next you should actively court reviews by asking clients for them or even incentivizing this by offering a discount in exchange for a good review.


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