Dentists spend $5.4 billion annually with their labs. That’s a big investment. But, unlike most mature service industries, there has been no way to rate, review, and search for dental labs. There has only been word of mouth. But what if the best lab for a dentist is across the country? This has always puzzled me, and I have been in the industry for 15 years.
So, I built LabWorthy.
Ratings and reviews are shaping our consumer buying habits as we find ways to extract more intelligence from the masses of data available. A good review helps us parse the signal from the noise.
Imagine dentists helping each other spend that $5.4 billion more wisely. Imagine the increase in profitability for everyone.
According to a recent survey, “84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.”
So why do we leave reviews? With so many binge-worthy TV shows, Instagram stories, and Spotify playlists…why would someone take time out of their day to write a useful review?
1. Reviews are the new brands
Think for a moment about AirBnB – it’s now about 10% of the TOTAL available rooms in major cities like New York and LA. What happened? In large part, millennial travelers traded brands for reviews. Traditionally travelers in the boomer and Gen X categories used brands as a proxy for trust. With millennials, online reviews have become the currency for trust and product discovery. Here’s an infographic for some of airbnb’s summer 2015 occupancy -- imagine staying in a strange yurt or on someone’s boat without reading the reviews first:
And this makes sense in the dental world as well. According to LMT, the biggest driver of new lab business is personal referrals. Referrals and reviews are ways we vouch for new experiences and services. This builds the trust markets need to thrive.
2. Reviews can drive better clinical outcomes
By reviewing a dental lab, you crowdsource better decision data that ultimately drives better restorations. This leads to better clinical outcomes and happier patients. A rising tide floats all boats.
3. Reviews follow network effects: more is better, for everyone
Every time I get one of those “nag” screens that asks me if I am enjoying my new app along with a plea to rate it, I get a little guilty. Why? Because I know that it was the ratings and reviews that actually convinced me to download the app and I feel obligated to contribute. It’s the least I can do. Serial entrepreneur and angel investor, Jason Calacanis, describes it this way:
You see, in the old days, it was about distribution, location, marketing spend, celebrity endorsement, traffic buying or the black art of search engine optimization. Today it's about getting a positive net-promoter score and making your five-star histogram look like a gun: a lot of five-star reviews coupled with some four-star reviews make the barrel. A dramatic drop-off to three stars, followed by slightly fewer two- and one-star reviews, makes the handle of your gun. The quantity of reviews, of course, reinforces this pattern. How many times have you seen the gun in the App Store and just clicked "buy" without thinking about it? Now, how many times have you seen a histogram that looks like an upside-down gun and run for the hills? Exactly.
But I like to think that the biggest reason for leaving a review is that with 5 minutes of effort, I can help a complete stranger make a better decision while potentially saving money and being more satisfied. How often in our complicated world can we help someone that we will never meet?
(And if you want to laugh out loud, check out this article on the Haribo sugar free gummy bear review stream on Amazon. Just a warning — it’s about the drama of gastrointestinal distress.)