Today’s patients are confronted with seemingly endless options. Choice overload is a real issue for many patients and as a result of this, many patients may end up frustrated and make snap decisions which may not necessarily be the best choice for them.
There are several ways how patients can make the task of choosing the right dentist for them a little easier.
The recommendations from other patients who have had dental care at that practice is crucial. Most people will only recommend a service if they were very pleased with it, in fact, studies show that most patients will only recommend a service if they had an above average experience with that service. For this reason, a word of mouth recommendation from another patient is important.
Some patient’s will leave a review on Google or another independent review site. We find that most patients will only leave a review if they had a really good experience or if they had a really bad experience. Generally, most people do not leave reviews if they just had an average experience.
An important study has been carried out to compare Amazon’s (the online retail site) rating with independent reviews on other sites. It shows that the Amazon rating are significantly skewed to demonstrate their products are better than they actually may be. Obviously, one could assume that this may be influenced by Amazon by only submitting mainly positive reviews to encourage more sales of their products.
The same can be said about comparing independent dental reviews on NHS Choices and Google, compared to the dental practice’s website. The website for the practice will only have positive reviews whereas the independent reviews will be more representative.
Honest reviews or paid review?
Having said that, seeing a dental practice with a 5 star review form over 100 reviews on Google must raise some suspicion. Is it possible that no one has rated it 4 or less? Or is it possible that the practice are employing a protocol which only allows positive reviews to make it to their Google reviews site? We know that some dental practices use a service provided by ‘Software of Excellence’ which allows practices to generate many 5 star reviews and eliminates anything that may not be 5 stars, have a look at this link. This is a paid-for service which tarnishes the reliability of the ratings system.
At our practice we don’t employ such tactics as we find that is not required. We find that by providing a genuine service to our patients, the recommendations and reviews will look after themselves.
It’s not that easy
To summarise, it is clearly not that easy to know exactly what to expect before you attend for your first appointment. A recommendation from a previous patient holds a lot of weight and may heavily influence your decision however, a personal recommendation is not always available as you may not know anyone who has had exactly the kind of treatment you are seeking.
The online reviews are a good indication however, they must be treated with caution as to how honest and representative they are.
Finally, if you can’t decide, why not attend the clinic and meet the team. Dentistry is a service and therefore, you will achieve so much from meeting the team than what you would receive from online sources.
Have a lovely Christmas break everyone, thank you for reading.
Mohsin Patel BDS MJDF RCS (Eng)