It’s Friday afternoon and you want to make a reservation at a restaurant that will not only be tasty, but also impress your date. You enter an overall search into Google like “Good Italian restaurants near me.” The search goes out and back comes the top results, sorted by review ratings. You click on the top result, read the five star rating that says, “A must eat! You’re missing out if you don’t eat their Pasta Carbonara.” You might click through the next few restaurants listed, but why? You can’t get the mental image of that delicious Pasta Carbonara out of your head. You click call and seal a reservation, hoping your date doesn’t reveal that they’re on a no-carb diet.According to a local consumer review survey, this preflight checking practice is common ground. 85% of consumers read online reviews before making a decision, and a whopping 67% of those consumers read six reviews or less.Doctors and dentist offices take up 35% of the type of reviews customers read, second only to restaurants.Suddenly, online reviews are critical to a business’ overall success. Consumers and patients are forming opinions faster than ever. According to a study conducted by Yelp, 90% of users say positive reviews impact their company buying choices. And 93% of people make purchases from those businesses they looked up. Reviews are doing the heavy lifting for you, completely for free. Reviews are marketing for you, and good reviews are marketing very well for you. Consider it a marketing campaign that keeps working for your business long after the review is posted. The same Yelp study shows 72% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Recommendations go hand in hand with reputations. Without a good reputation, there will be no recommendation. Tied with restaurants, reputation matters most with doctors and dentist offices.Review sites such as Yelp or Google are the new way of double-checking a reputation. Say you made it to date number two, and even your slurping of the cheesy pasta captured their heart. Your sister told you about a restaurant right outside of the city, that has the best seafood. Instead of just showing up and asking for a table for two, you want to do a quick double check. You look the restaurant up on Yelp, see the amazing reviews, and click call to make the reservation. The same concept goes for your practice. A friend can rave on and on about your practice, but if during their preflight check no reviews are present, the potential patient has lost trust. The patient is much more inclined to believe a review form a third party; even it’s a complete stranger on the Internet. So how do you receive these elusive customer reviews that will put you at the top of potential patients Google page? First, have excellent customer service. Be so great that patients will have no choice but to write a glowing review. You know that feeling when you leave a great experience and you say, “I can’t wait to tell all my friends about this.” Be that place. Second, you should recommend a patient to write a Google review. It doesn’t have to be completely in their face, but if a patient mentions that they had an incredible experience or result, kindly ask if they’d consider giving you a Google or Yelp review. If this is just too unnatural and awkward, consider putting a note or sign next to where the patient checks out. A simple, “We want to hear about your great experience, visit our Google page and give us a review!” would work. This might seem completely unconventional, but we live a day and age that calls for it. Without the inclination to write a review, most consumers won’t do it. While 85% of consumers read online reviews, only 28% of consumers have actually written them. And finally, you need to keep up with your reviews, positively maintaining your online reputation. If a patient sees that you reply to your reviews, making sure to take the time and add personal touches, they will have already have a positive impression of what your practice is like. If they see you take the time to respond to the 65 Yelp reviews, then you must truly care about your patients. Reviews are your friend, and your chance to make a positive first impression. You know how great your business is and reviews let others know the same.