Strategies to Ensure that Online Reviews and Comments Are Not Hurting Your Practice
The good old days, when satisfied patients helped build your practice through word of mouth, are gone forever. Back then, if someone wanted to speak negatively about the care you provided, it took some effort. Now, unfortunately, with the omnipresent Internet, it can take only a single sentence and the click of a button. Literally millions of people can see a negative review with little difficulty.
But online reviews and comments are here to stay, so you need to take specific strategies to effectively manage your online reputation. Here are some of the most common mistakes that medical practitioners make with respect to their online visibility and presence:
Ignoring negative social media posts—Back in the days when most comments were spoken, they had to be repeated in order to have effect, and they often died out if ignored. You can’t do that with comments or posts on social media. If you do nothing, they’ll stay there and continue to influence prospective patients. Of course, if the statements are false, and you can prove that they are, you can take steps to have them removed from the Internet. Often, though, the best approach is to post your own comment in response. Be careful, though, not to engage in bickering or finger-pointing—you’ll never look good in an online squabble with a former patient. Instead, see what you can do to resolve the issue and turn a negative into a positive.
Failing to take advantage of online listings—One of the best ways to control and enhance your online credibility is through listings on Google, in Yelp, in Healthgrades, and on similar platforms. Not being listed there will have a negative impact on your reputation, as people will wonder why you’re not there. Also, failing to correct any inaccurate information typically leads to a greater loss of reputation and trust from potential patients.
Failing to solicit online reviews—This one is simple: you need to have positive reviews online, regardless of whether you have negative reviews. It’s not unusual to have some negative reviews—there’s always the possibility that you’ll have a personality conflict with a patient who will take to the Internet to disparage you. Don’t give potential patients the option to read only negative reviews. Ask satisfied patients to post positive reviews, and then the negative reviews will have less impact.
Not using professionals to handle reputation management—You may think that reputation management is simply a matter of responding to or dealing with negative online comments. Accordingly, you may give responsibility for managing your online reputation to an inexperienced person in your office. Effectively managing your online reputation, though, demands the knowledge and experience of a professional.
Posting fake online reviews (for yourself or a competitor)—You will get caught, and when you do, you may be penalized or even blocked from the Internet.