Like it or not, we live in an age of customer reviews. If you want to find out how good something is on Amazon or whether a restaurant is four or five stars, you check out customer reviews. Living in the age of Yelps and TripAdvisors, that holds true for plastic surgery as well.
Who Likes What and by How Much?
Not only are online customer reviews widespread, all of us use them routinely to make decisions. According to recent statistics, nine out of 10 consumers read online reviews, and nearly 90 percent of them trust online reviews when considering a business, a product, or a service.
Surgeons Paying for Gold Stars?
Patient reviews are something that other patients look at. “Prospective patients are always trying to do their homework and do their best before making a decision,” says board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Brzowski of Salt Lake City. “The problem is there are a variety of review sites that patients can access. Some of them are above board and legitimate and others are very suspect and when I say that I mean there are numerous examples where plastic surgeons have paid for reviews. They have had office staff write reviews. So there are examples where office reviews can be very unreliable and very misleading.”
“In Good Reviews We Trust”
Almost three out of four people polled say positive reviews make them trust a local business more. In addition, customers are likely to spend 31 percent more on a business with excellent reviews. However, 86 percent of consumers will decide against buying from you if they read negative reviews about you online.
“Sometimes it’s just not a good experience between patient and physician and the patient may not have even had surgery and they can go on and say something bad about the surgeon,” says Austin plastic surgeon Dr. Dustin Reid.
One Word: Yelp
Yelp is another indicator of the power of online reviews. Any business owner who has had a negative Yelp review knows how hard it can be for your rating to bounce back. According to one study, one-star increase on Yelp leads a to a five to nine percent increase in business revenue, and one negative review can cost you 30 customers.
“I think Yelp and other sites are a double-edged sword,” continues Reid. “Obviously no plastic surgeon ever complained if positive reviews brought clients into their office. I think where it can get trickier is when a plastic surgeon gets a negative review. And some of the sites are geared toward the dissatisfied patient. And maybe all the sites are.”
What if a Bad Review Appears?
“I’m sure a bad review can have somebody think twice about someone’s services,” says board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Camille Cash, who practices in Houston. “I think you balance it by having great reviews. A lot of surgeons who are well qualified are going to have a lot of happy patients. So we want to make sure those stories are told.”
In the end, we hope the organic response to positive experiences will translate to honest reviews. For the most part, this seems to be the case, but it’s always great advice to think critically about reviews you read and discern whether or not the situation described fit the bill.