I was sitting in a doctor’s office when I thought about a blog I wrote last year about social media bullying. The gist of the post was that if you receive a negative review, it’s important that you’re already connected, engaged, and proactive on social media rating sites. I was early for my appointment, so I clicked on my iPhone, Googled my location, and saw a bunch of mixed reviews. What struck me most was that the physician’s practice had no comments, good OR bad, in response to reviews. None. There was no social monitoring and no engagement or interaction with the patients.
The problem is that patients are the customers of the doctors, nurses, receptionists, administration, and lab workers. The impression I received as a new patient was that this office didn’t care about its patients. The reviews themselves were pretty mixed - good, bad, and indifferent - but why wasn’t anyone responding to them?
Yes, Your Online Reputation Counts
I was only going in for some lab work, but I did ask the technician, who passed it off to the front office. I spoke with the support staff setting appointments up front, and they passed it off to the doctor. Again, this didn’t give me a lot of faith that anyone cared. I haven’t been back or had a need to return to that doctor, but I most likely will not, even if the need arises. My perception is that the doctor and the staff don’t care about what the customer (me) thinks.
How many other people walked away from this physician? Everyone has a smartphone and an opinion, so you simply can’t ignore what your patients – that is, your customers and the people who pay for every part of your organization – say about you.Ignoring your online reputation will have a catastrophic impact on your practice. People will find these reviews on Google Maps, Yelp, and other social media rating sites.
In this case, not responding shows a lack of caring but also reinforces the stereotype that doctors are arrogant. Breaking this stereotype by responding to reviews is a way that medical practices can differentiate their practice and separate themselves in a positive way.
Happy patients and their positive feedback help build a positive online reputation, and it’s one of the strongest referrals you can cultivate. Even negative feedback from patients can be a positive for your practice – if you view it as constructive feedback, it can help you address problems before they become ingrained routines.
What You Can You Do Right Now to Take Control of Your Social Reviews?
- Designate a staff member to monitor the review sites such as Google, Yelp, and others.
- Jump in and respond promptly to patient concerns.
- Remind your staff that it starts with them – they should respond positively to patient concerns before the patients leave the office and write a review.
- Have your staff empower your happy patients by providing them with information on where to post a positive review.
Your active online management of reviews is essential to the health of your practice and the cornerstone of obtaining and retaining patients. Do you want to learn more best practices to help your practice? Contact us.