Florida State University
September 9, 2019
HOME | Associate Spotlight

Fairfax Hearing Center: creating a 5-star patient experience

Fairfax Hearing Center’s co-owner and Director of Audiology, Gena Marino, Au.D., announced during an MBA meeting last year that signing up for Consult YHN’s Online Review Builder (ORB) was one of the best decisions she’s ever made. And when you look at the “reviews” page on the practice’s website, it’s clear why: Fairfax Hearing has earned 180 online reviews in the past three years (compared to 62 reviews in the four years prior to the program) and 99 percent are positive. Online Review Builder encourages patients to review your practice on the websites that matter (Google, Facebook, Healthy Hearing, and more) with automated emails, text messages, and review cards. It gathers and displays high-star reviews on your website, boosting your practice’s credibility and SEO rankings. Dr. Marino talked to us about getting the most out of the program and the surprising role technology plays in the practice’s exceptional patient experience.

“I think all of us truly love what we do and it shows. We love helping people to hear better.”
Gena Marino, Au.D.

Q&A with Gena Marino, Au.D., Director of Audiology & Co-owner

1What would you tell another practice about our Online Review Builder (ORB)?
It’s worth every penny. People would be incredibly silly not to use it. I certainly attribute a great portion of our business’s success to the program. The best part is that it's all automated. You don't have to do anything. As business owners, we're so busy with all the minutia as well as seeing patients—who has time to send out requests for reviews?
2Speaking of review requests, many practices don’t take advantage of ORB’s automated email and text messaging feature even though we will train staff on how to use it. Could you explain how it works for anyone who doesn’t know?
I can't believe people aren't using it. It's a no brainer. Blueprint automatically sends patient information to the ORB system after the appointment, then that patient gets an email or text message asking them to leave a review for one of our providers. If they don’t leave a review, then the system will send them two more reminder messages. By the third message, if there’s no response, then that’s it.

And if there’s a long-time patient who has already written a review or never written a review, the system won't upload their information again. They don't keep badgering people. Also, they only send out a certain number of emails and/or text messages per day. They stagger the reviews a bit so that you don’t have a whole bunch of reviews all on the same day.
3Is it easy to see and manage all of this through ORB’s online dashboard?
Yes, we can see who does and doesn’t leave a review through the dashboard. We also get reports. And then if there's anyone who for some reason didn't give us their email address at first, I can go in and put that information in myself.
4Which have you found to have a greater response rate: the email requests, text messages, or the review cards?
We evaluated how many reviews came from email versus text message requests and it's about half and half. We don't give the cards out on a regular basis. If I see that a patient doesn’t have an email address, I’ll often put a stamp on the review card and pop it in the little bag we give them. But patients seldom return the review cards.
5How often do patients mention having looked at your online reviews before deciding to make an appointment?
We hear it all the time. Our receptionist always captures what brought patients in, but if it just says “online” in the system, I go ahead and ask patients how they heard about us. And a lot of times they’ll say, “Wow, you have a lot of really great reviews.” I hear it multiple times a week.

It’s obviously easy to write, “Everything was great” or “I love my hearing aids and definitely recommend Fairfax Hearing Center.” But our reviews are very unique. And I think that when other people read comments like, “When I walk in, I feel like it’s family,” they know that it’s incredibly personalized.
6Has the practice ever made any changes based on the feedback it’s gotten from patients, whether good or bad?
Definitely. We were in a different building for many years. It was a mid-rise medical office building and there was minimal handicapped parking. So patients often complained about not be able to find parking and having to circle around. It just was a hassle. Obviously, most people can't change that. But that was something we really wanted to change when we built our current office. Now people can literally park eight steps way from our door and just walk right in.
7What are some things that you think the practice’s 99 percent positive feedback rating can be attributed to?
I think all of us truly love what we do and it shows. We love helping people to hear better. I've learned so much about putting a smile on your face when you're on the telephone, and it really does make a difference. We’re all about making patients happy. That’s why in our display area, we always have a pocket talker and other assistive listening devices available. So when hearing aids are not enough, we have all those other things. Not that we sell a great deal of them—it’s certainly not the bread and butter of the practice—but people just like it.
8The display area is actually something very unique to your practice. Tell us more a little more about it.
We wanted our office to have an Apple store-type feel where you can walk in and look around and touch things. There’s no type of sign-in thing and there’s no glass separating our receptionist and patients. I've actually had patients ask me if we can do their hearing evaluation in the waiting room because they have questions about the specific devices on display. We also have a TV in the waiting room with content from the different manufacturers and the hearing aids are connected to it. So, we’re able to demo hearing aids out there and patients can experience firsthand the sound from the TV going into their ears instead of us just telling them about it.
9Besides ORB, is there anything else that you’d recommend to other practices that could help them provide a better patient experience?
Add a chatbot to their website. I can't even tell you the number of hearing aids we’ve sold from people that don't want to pick up the phone and just want to chat with someone.

What I also think is important is responding to reviews. Even if they're positive. Just say “Thank you. I’m going to share this with my staff. I really appreciate your kind words.” I think patients really like that. And then for the few reviews that we've had where people maybe weren't so satisfied, we have a template message that we’ll send out that basically says, “I'm so sorry Mr. Joe Schmo that we weren't able to meet and exceed your expectations. I'd love to know what we could have done better and what we can improve on.” Just respond to people; respond to all of them.