Actively Seeking Social Proof

By Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT

Nielsen Ratings indicate that 63 percent of consumers value consumer opinions posted online! What does your practice currently do to ensure that you have an online consumer opinion presence?

According to LocalVOX, “How to Grow Your Business with YELP,” “Yelp makes customers more comfortable choosing small businesses over major brands.”1

4 Steps to Ensuring Your Social Proof

1. Check on the consumer opinion websites including Yelp, Google ratings, and Healthgrades for opinions posted on your practice and your top three competitors.

  • Do you have opinions posted?
    • Are they positive? Negative? Neutral?
  • Do your competitors have opinions posted?
    • Are they positive? Negative? Neutral?

2. Check your own website as well: Are you harvesting your customer testimonials and applying them to your website and social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)? Testimonials utilized on your website, especially genuine videos, or written statements with photos, can boost consumer confidence in your ratings. Having these integrated on your landing page and the page highlighting your staff can be especially powerful.

3. Build a presence on the ratings platforms:

  • Develop a simple in-clinic poster asking patients to “Like us on Yelp, Google Ratings, or Healthgrades.” Hand out simple postcards at the midpoint or end of care asking people to rate you or better yet send an email with a link to these websites to make posting easier! If your customers have never posted before, perhaps suggest that they rate a few of their favorite businesses. Single Yelp postings may be sorted out and blocked.
  • Ask family and friends who have used your services to post. Spread out those requests over time.
  • Include a Yelp link with your email signature asking for feedback. Add a link on your website to “Like us on Yelp!”
  • Avoid scripting posts and using clinical jargon; sincere consumer-friendly language is the most convincing.

4. Monitor your practice on these sites: Harris Polls reports that a combination of positive postings and an occasional negative review actually makes your ratings more believable than all-stellar ratings! Best practices in Yelp suggests the following strategies:

  • If a positive review is posted: Promptly thank your customer!
  • If a negative review is posted: Try to respond quickly and kindly without being defensive. Address the problem with a proactive response. Lead with an apology and try to respond empathetically. Be brief. If you find a back-and-forth response, suggest that you communicate offline directly to resolve the issue.
  • If an extremely negative post goes up, you may want to review and try to remove it.


    1. Accessed August 2016.

    Steffes-Lynn-2016 Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT, is president and consultant of Steffes & Associates, a national rehabilitation consulting group focused on marketing and program development for private practices nationwide. She is an instructor in five physical therapy programs and has actively presented, consulted, and taught in 40 states. She can be reached at

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