Word recently broke about a woman in Marietta, Georgia¹ who allegedly “pulled teeth, applied fillings, replaced crowns and wrote prescriptions for pain medications” without any kind of dental license. This dangerous and unrepentant fraud simply strolled into an office for years and pretended to be a licensed dentist.
On one hand, this woman was indicted on 40 counts of practicing dentistry without a license. But as a result of her actions, one of her “patients” was rushed to the hospital with an abscess the size of a tennis ball. Doctors had to insert a tube through his mouth and neck to treat it. Not fun for anyone involved, and all because of a woman who had the gall to lie to people and unfortunately give this great profession a black eye.
Quite obviously, discovering that she was masquerading as a licensed and qualified dental professional shocked the community of Marietta. But what makes me even more concerned is that, in this day and age, that she actually got away with it.
There’s a very important lesson that every doctor and practice owner should learn as a result. In these times of “fake news,” robot-created testimonials, Facebook privacy issues etc., consumers are now forced to dig deeper than ever before to verify that a dental practice is trustworthy.
And on the other side of that coin, you have an obligation as the service provider to do everything you can to demonstrate that you’re a qualified, trustworthy and experienced professional; one who puts your patients’ health and welfare as the highest priority.
TRUST Is A Fragile Thing. Easy To Break, Easy To Lose And One Of The Hardest Things To Ever Get Back. Attributed to Zig Ziglar
You might think that word-of-mouth is still the most effective way to achieve this level of social proof and verification. Sorry my friend, those days are gone.
The BEST way to demonstrate that you’re a qualified, vetted and trustworthy professional is with verified 5-STAR Google reviews. Ideally, these should come from your top patients who should be unequivocally gushing about how your practice is focused on patient satisfaction, comfort and care.
But, why Google? It’s simple… Google is one of the most established and balanced organizations in the world. According to Edelman Trust Barometer, a prominent research firm, Google is now the most trusted MEDIA (not search engine) outlet on the planet! That means it’s more trusted than any newspaper, news show, radio station or any other traditional media. Let that sink in for a moment.
Bottom line, if you don’t show up on Google and LOOK THE PART of being a trustworthy dentist with tons of fresh content and up-to-the-minute reviews, all on a branded Google business page (NOT your website!), you’re simply not trusted by prospective patients. Plain and simple. In their eyes, there’s nothing that separates you from the fraudulent dentist who’s now rotting in jail. It’s not personal. Those are simply now the rules of the game.
From its inception, Google’s only agenda has been to provide the greatest and most balanced search experience for its users. That’s why it is in a constant “beta” state. In other words, it’s constantly adjusting the search algorithm and company practices to be the best it can be… every minute of every day. All to create a platform that people trust. And believe me, your prospective patients are using that platform, desperately looking for a qualified dental provider. They’re pouring through reviews and ratings, evaluating the top-rated dentists in your community. And unless you’re at the top of the list with your patients bragging about how great you are, that trust will not be established… and that potential patient will be lost to another provider who has done a better job of establishing a high level of trust.
Done right, getting 5-star patient reviews on Google isn’t that hard. But it’s also easy to do it WRONG. That is when those painful negative reviews happen. And the bad news is that there is no undoing that damage as those reviews are rarely removed. This causes damage to your reputation and practice for years. It’s also why you don’t ask every patient for a review… not to mention that if your reviews are all older than 3-6 months, as independent data tells us, it’s worse than having negative reviews. This is because old reviews indicate that you’re not a successful, thriving practice with happy patients. As a result, patients will opt for a doctor with current, newly-minted Google reviews.
“Trust, But Verify.”
– Ronald Reagan