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What the Science of Influence and Persuasion Says about Google Reviews

 By: Dr. Christopher Phelps
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Most practices have a love-hate relationship with Google reviews. We love them because they bring us a steady stream of new patients, and we hate them because it’s next to impossible to get our team to remember to ask patients to submit reviews. Once our best patients leave, their mindset shifts to the million other things they need to do, and reviews never get written. 

How can we influence our teams to ask patients to write reviews, and how can we influence our best patients to leave the kind of reviews that bring new patients to our practices? We can leverage the power of ethical persuasion.

Influence, Persuasion and Google Reviews

The science of ethical influence and persuasion was developed by Dr. Robert Cialdini in the early 1980s. Dr. Cialdini spent several years studying salesmen and marketers to learn how they persuade people to make choices and act. He discovered there are six principles at the root of all successful persuasion that are universal across times and all cultures: reciprocity, consistency, authority, linking, social proof and scarcity.   

These principles are foundational to all sales, marketing, debates and arguments. It doesn’t matter if you want to persuade your neighbor to rake his leaves or the recipient of a direct mailer to book an appointment. The principles of persuasion help you set the stage for a yes.

In the case of Google reviews, your practice needs the reviews to activate the principle of social proof. If people look at your practice and see good reviews, they’ll be more likely to book an appointment and to trust your diagnosis. The challenge is getting those good reviews in the first place.

Going Beyond Basic Persuasion to Collect Google Reviews

Practices can leverage reciprocity and consistency by having patients commit to writing a positive review after a great appointment. To start, practices can use the power of reciprocity by providing a phenomenal patient experience. This is what you’ll hear patients say when you accomplish this goal:

“Wow, I can’t believe we’re done already.”

“That’s it? 

“That didn’t hurt one bit.”

You can take this principle a step further by offering patients a choice of a $5 gift card from three to four businesses, such as Amazon, Target or Starbucks, as a thank you for choosing your office for their dental care. When people receive a gift card of real value to them, they want to reciprocate—and as soon as possible so they can mark it off their to-do list. How do we know when patients truly value a gift? They give us a genuine “Thank you!” When that happens, use it as an opportunity to say something like this: 

“My pleasure. By the way, would you mind completing a Google review for us about your experience today?”

By asking patients if they’ll write the review and waiting for them to answer affirmatively, you get a real commitment—tapping into the power of consistency. When people make a commitment, they’re more likely to follow through.    

Even with these techniques, many patients fail to leave a review. Is it because they’re wishy-washy or because they lied? Of course not! Life happens. They get home and their kids need them, there are bills to pay, a friend texts them, and suddenly they’ve forgotten all about the review—and who can blame them? The review is vital to your practice, but meaningless to existing patients who already know and like you.

So how do we actually get them to follow through on their commitment to leave reviews? Here are a few tips:

Strike while the influence iron is hot. If patients commit to writing a review, ask them to pull out their phone and do it right then. Just don't let them fill out a review on your office’s Wi-Fi network, as Google won't accept it. Instead, ask them to use their own cellular network and data on their phone. If they have trouble figuring out how to do it, help them overcome that barrier.

Use quirky objects to jog their memory later. These reminders have more staying power than simple verbal reminders. Get a poster of a cute animal, like a hedgehog, saying “Don’t forget to leave a Google Review” and put it at the check-out desk. This ties the hedgehog to leaving reviews.

Use multiple reminders. Research shows sending reminders via multiple methods gets people to quickly complete a task. So email, text, and give physical reminders.

Offer them a choice.  If patients can’t leave a review right away, ask them if they’ll use their computer or phone when they do write the review. Making a choice cements their commitment to completing the task.

Give them printed instructions. Have one patient write a review using a smart phone and another using a computer. Ask them both to take screen shots of each step. Then, put together instructions that show patients how to complete reviews from whatever medium they choose. This helps eliminate technology barriers while also serving as a great reminder for patients. Even if life gets in the way, this influence trigger will help patients remember their commitment.

Boost your marketing efforts

When you add these simple measures, more patients will remember to leave you positive Google reviews, supercharging your marketing campaigns and helping you grow your practice.

Dr. Christopher Phelps is a general dentist, Amazon best-selling author and entrepreneur with a private practice in Charlotte, North Carolina. In his first 7 years, he grew revenues by a factor of 10X going from one practice to four locations. After selling two of those offices for profit, Dr. Phelps focused on maximizing the capacity of his remaining two practices and experienced two consecutive years of $1,000,000 revenue growth at both, effectively collecting with two offices what he had collected with four. A major part of this success was the Call Tracker ROI and Golden Goose Scheduling programs he developed out of his own marketing needs and issues. With the programs, he increased his new patient numbers from 60 a month to averaging more than 300 a month, all while decreasing his marketing expenses by 74%. Dr. Phelps is also a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer (CMCT). 

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