3M ESPE confirms importance of dentist-to-dentist word of mouth

Company profile

3M ESPE Division Healthcare

Bazaarvoice Solution


Client since


About 3M ESPE

3M ESPE is a dental product manufacturer that markets more than 2‚000 dental products and services. 3M ESPE dental products are designed to help dental professionals improve their patients’ oral health care. The 3M Digital Oral Care Department‚ part of the 3M ESPE Division‚ aims to accelerate and strengthen 3M’s efforts to lead the digital transformation that is occurring in oral care.


By simplifying the review submission process and going beyond the website, 3M was able to increase customer review volume by 200% in three days on their ESPE products.

Solution at a glance


Motivate busy dental professionals to take the time to write reviews of 3M ESPE products.


Simplify the review submission process, and go beyond the website to connect with customers.


  • Boost customer review volume by 200% in three days.

While many people associate ratings and reviews with consumer products and services, 3M ESPE’s Director of Marketing, Keith Haig, has always envisioned how they could benefit his division of 3M, which sells products to dentists and other dental professionals.

“We’ve always believed that reviews for dentists by dentists could have an impact on buying decisions, but that’s just part of the story,” explains Haig. “We also see the value of providing us with real-time feedback on things like packaging, pricing, and instructions to help us improve our business.”

Eager to put reviews to work for 3M ESPE, Haig started using Bazaarvoice Conversations in March 2012. But there was just one problem.

“Initially, we didn’t see the volume of reviews we would have liked – I think because our customers are busy professionals who rarely have time to go online and write reviews,” Haig says. “And our process for collecting reviewer information online was, frankly, time-consuming. People were abandoning it halfway through.”

All it took was a simple tweak of the registration process and one brilliant idea for customer outreach to start delivering the results Haig had been looking forward to.

Making the online review process as easy as possible

Haig’s first step in encouraging customers to submit reviews was to follow Bazaarvoice’s recommendation to implement a more streamlined online registration process.

“Now the only thing people need to provide when they review products is their email address,” says Haig.

He believes this will bring better results when 3M ESPE engages in the Bazaarvoice best practice of soliciting reviews by email.

“We had previously tried communicating via email to known product users, but we were just asking too much of them once they got to the website,” Haig acknowledges. “We expect the faster process will generate many more reviews.”

Going into the community to get reviews

Bazaarvoice suggested that one way to increase review volume would be to go beyond the website to collect reviews. That’s when it hit Haig: Dentaltown, a large online community of dental professionals, was preparing to host its annual “Townie” meeting, one of the profession’s major gatherings.

Every year, “Townies” nominate companies for awards for products that make a difference in dental offices. 3M ESPE has won more of these awards than any other manufacturer. To Haig, this would be a great environment for reaching out to customers.

“We leveraged their comfort with the whole idea of voting for products and created a scenario in which people could review our products right there at the event,” explains Haig. 3M ESPE sent a pre-meeting email to attendees to let them know that the company would be collecting reviews, and then set up a kiosk at the event where anyone could quickly stop by and write one.

"The value isn't just that reviews make other potential customers aware of our products, but also that they provide us with real-time feedback on things like packaging, pricing, and instructions to help us improve our business."
Keith Haig,
Director of Marketing

While at the conference, the company also conducted extensive interviews with attendees that confirmed what Haig already suspected: When dentists are making buying decisions, word of mouth in the form of reviews by other dentists is extremely influential.

200% increase in review volume in three days

Haig’s idea to engage dentists at the event generated a 200% increase in review volume for 3M ESPE during the conference. After sending a post-event email appeal for ratings and reviews to the entire Dentaltown database – not just those at the meeting – the company saw another surge in reviews. Ultimately, pre- and post-meeting communications to this key group generated 80% of all the reviews appearing on 3M ESPE’s website the week after the event. In total, more than 500 reviews were collected from the combination of event & email sent.

Keeping the momentum going

Eager to capitalize on recent review momentum, Haig is preparing to implement another Bazaarvoice best practice, the post-interaction email.

“We’ll be using the Bazaarvoice platform to automatically send post-purchase emails inviting customers to review their experience,” he says. He’s also looking forward to integrating reviews into the company’s iPad-based sales tool.

“Being able during a sales call to show other dentists’ experience with a product could be so powerful,” he says. “It would be as if the prospect were standing next to five or ten or even hundreds or thousands of peers and hearing about their experience. It’s an opportunity to amplify a conversation between two or three people to thousands.”

In that spirit, the company is also piloting a Bazaarvoice product that will allow sales representatives to ask dentists to quickly rate and review a product while they are on site during sales visits.

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