Here’s an experiment for you: Type your name or the name of your practice into Google. What are some of the first search results that you see? Probably your business’s website and maybe its social media networks, right? On that first search page, physicians will probably also find their practice on review sites like Vitals or Healthgrades. That brings us to stress the importance of review site management.
An estimated 80% of patients say that ratings and reviews influenced their choice of healthcare provider. And while you can’t control what patients say about you online, you can let them know they are being heard by responding to reviews in a timely manner.
Before you can start crafting a response to a review, you must claim your business page. Google Business, Healthgrades and Vitals each have their own process, but once you create an account on each site and type in your business name, the steps to claiming your business are pretty straightforward. If your practice doesn’t already have a business page, you’ll want to go ahead and claim that as well because it’s possible patients have already left reviews you may be unaware of.
Now let’s talk tackling reviews.
Whether it is a glowing review of their patient experience or a negative review about their most recent appointment, each and every review deserves a well thought out response.
Here are some tips:
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Respond to Negative Reviews
One of the most common things that medical professionals do is see a negative review and simply ignore it. Because they feel it is always worse to respond as it opens up a negative dialogue, many professionals are afraid to respond to these reviews whatsoever.
However, it is through these responses that you can turn previously negative situations into positive ones. By being understanding and highly responsive, you can show your care for your patients and their satisfaction and, even if you can’t turn that comment around, other viewers will see that you tried which actually does matter.
2. Address Patient Concerns Before Their Appointment Ends
Your online reputation matters and the best way to ensure that it is not tarnished is to make sure every patient has a positive patient experience.
This can be as simple as asking them at the end of every visit if they were satisfied with their care and what you can do to improve in the future. Being able to address their concerns before they leave the office is the best way to avoid negative reviews before they even are written.
3. Encourage Patients to Write Positive Reviews
Unfortunately, because of the way that our minds operate, there is a hidden ratio that dictates that unhappy customers are more likely to write reviews than satisfied ones are. Because of this, a highly qualified physician’s page could easily become plastered in solely negative reviews.
This is why making a lasting impression on every patient is so important. In fact, when a patient is satisfied, it is in your best interest to encourage them to review you right then and there. Encouraging patients to write positive reviews can quickly turn your reviews around for the better.
Some professionals may find it ideal to create incentives for positive reviews such as a gift basket.
4. Resist the Urge to Respond Defensively
When seeing a negative comment about you or your practice, you may feel inclined to respond defensively. However, by responding in this way, you may further solidify their point.
Instead, apologize for their unfortunate experience and when possible offer some kind of reconciliation. In most cases, this response alone will turn the situation around for the better. However, even if this approach does not get the results you are hoping for, it showcases that your patients and their satisfaction matter to you which, to a person viewing these comments, means more than you’d think.
5. Take the Conversation Offline
If this patient continues to be upset and you do not see an expedient resolution to their concerns, it is best for you to try to get off this forum as soon as possible. Offer to message them on email or call them personally. In doing this, you can avoid the number of negative comments this person makes about you online.
The things you post online are permanent and will remain there forever, even after deletion. What this means is that these negative comments can not only bombard your reviews page, but last forever as well even if the individual chooses to delete them after the fact. This is why taking the negative comments to a different platform is the best way to avoid negativity.
6. Enlist the Help of Professionals
The digital landscape is changing rapidly and it can be difficult to keep up. Each platform and website has its own rules and limitations regarding managing online reviews. To ensure that patient feedback doesn’t fall through the cracks and reviews are responded to in a timely, thoughtful manner, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of digital marketing experts that are well-versed and up-to-date on best practices for managing online reviews.
The key to managing your online reviews is to simply recognize that no one is perfect—including yourself. By doing this, you can show your accountability, turn negative experiences into positives, and increase your patient retention patients while also attracting new patients.
TargetMarket is a team of digital marketing experts that helps physicians and healthcare professionals grow their digital presence. One of the ways in which we do this is through online reputation management. We can help you protect your reputation with HIPAA secure responding. Get in touch to learn more.