Let's face it, the Internet has changed the way business is done. I think we'd all agree there, right?
But how so?
Previously, people searching for services used to grab the phone book, and scroll through the Yellow Pages or ask family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors for referrals, many now rely on the Internet to help them find doctors, dentists, and other professional service providers.
What this means for doctors and other healthcare professionals is that a strong online presence is necessary in order to remain competitive. And these days, websites simply aren't enough. Even if you set up an on-site blog, practice SEO for healthcare providers, and create social media profiles, the content you post can't compete with the abundance of consumer reviews and the weight they carry with prospective patients.
For this reason, you need to put some time and attention into building your online reviews in a way that promotes a positive image for your practice. Here are nine easy and effective strategies to help you get started.
1. Ask for reviews
Sometimes getting what you want is as simple as asking. It may not even occur to satisfied customers to create an online review of your business unless you make them aware of the possibility.
And whether they are long-term patients or they're visiting you for the first time, they'll probably comply for a number of reasons - perhaps they genuinely want to help you out, or maybe so they won't feel guilty about failing to fulfill your request for a review.
Listen to this Podcast for more ways you can get reviews.
2. Make it easy
Even if your service is spectacular, most patients won't go out of their way to provide positive feedback. So you need to make it easy. There are a couple of ways to do this. If you want to go old-school, you could provide in-office forms for patients to fill out so that you can post them on your website as testimonials. This is a great way to encourage rave reviews from patients that aren't online or those that will forget as soon as they leave your office.
But you can also add patients to your email list and then send them review requests that only require them to click a button or a link to get to your review page. Or you can offer links via your website and social media profiles, as well as sending "call to action" reminders for satisfied patients to post reviews.
It also helps if you keep the review process short and simple. Your emails or other posts should let patients know that writing a review will only take a few minutes of their time.
3. Monitor and moderate
Building up an online portfolio of positive reviews requires you to weed out those that are negative, and this relies on your ability to monitor and moderate comments.
Since you can retain the right not to post comments, this is easily done on your website and any other platforms you control. But for third-party review sites, you may have more trouble. Your best bet is to monitor for negative reviews so that you can contact dissatisfied customers, find ways to rectify a bad experience, and turn them into positive reviews. Furthermore, fraudulent reviews can be reported to third-party monitors, and they can be convinced to remove them.
Don't forget, you can also tip the scales back in your favor by drowning out negative reviews with positive posts and online marketing for doctors. The most current postings will gain more traction with search bots.
4. Learn to spot fakes
Fraudulent reviews could be posted by competitors, disgruntled ex-employees, or anyone seeking to harm your business. And when you uncover such reviews, it's best to report them to the proper authorities (site moderators) in order to have them removed.
5. Address concerns
You may not like negative reviews, but they actually provide you with an opportunity to improve in some cases. When dissatisfied customers voice issues with your business, you can contact them directly to improve their personal experience (hopefully reversing their negative review and replacing it with a positive one).
But you can also improve your business practices in general, potentially providing better service to current and future patients while also avoiding similar bad reviews in the future.
6. Go the extra mile
Encouraging positive reviews for your practice will only be successful insomuch as you earn them, so getting positive feedback starts with providing excellent service. And while merely adequate service won't likely earn you raves, patients who are impressed may be more willing to go out of their way to post a review.
The way to make this happen is by going the extra mile whenever possible. Be accommodating with your schedule when you can, make sure your staff is always polite, friendly, and helpful, and do whatever you can to make sure patients have a productive and enjoyable visit.
7. Get patients invested
When you personalize your services and your website, engaging patients on an emotional level, you're much more likely to encourage positive reviews and discourage negative postings. After all, most consumers are willing to forgive a lot if they have a strong emotional attachment to a business and its staff.
8. Choose ratings sites to endorse
When you ask patients for reviews, it's best to have a site to refer them to where they can easily post. So take the time to research ratings sites and find the ones that offer reputable services and policies you feel comfortable endorsing.
9. Build profiles
Your website will provide the hub of your online presence, but you need to branch out even further. And while you probably understand the importance of creating profiles on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, you might not realize that there are other types of profiles you should focus on.
Sites like Yelp and WebMD allow you to input information about your practice, including contact information, a link to your website, and photos. And this all makes it easier for satisfied patients to find you and leave reviews. In some cases, you can even provide credentials and other pertinent information. Just make sure to check these profiles periodically to respond to comments.
Your website will provide the hub of your online presence
10. Hire a reputation management service
Anyone running a healthcare practice is probably more concerned with expending time and effort on behalf of patients than dealing with online reviews. But just like you probably pay for SEO for your dental practice and online marketing for healthcare professionals, you can pay a service provider to monitor and manage your online presence.
A reputation management service will look for negative postings associated with your business and find ways to counteract them, helping you to improve your online image and build up a portfolio of positive online reviews.
What are you doing to build your brand online and to increase the number of positive reviews you have across the internet?