Understanding your online profile is a vital part of building a successful optometry or ophthalmology practice.
What people say about you on social media and other review sites matters; it influences what other believe about you before they’ve even set foot in your office.
A study done by Infusionsoft concluded that 62 percent of small businesses believe that word-of-mouth marketing is the best tactic for gaining new customers.
People rely on recommendations from peers to pick everything from the restaurant where they want to eat to their healthcare professionals. This has always been true, but is even more pronounced now that the internet has made it so convenient for people to share opinions (often anonymously).
It’s a blessing and a curse for healthcare practices; harnessing this word-of-mouth power for good is the key to building a trusted, respected optometry or ophthalmology practice, but it is also difficult to keep on top of reviews.
So what’s the best way to keep your online reputation positive, and keep bringing in new patients to your optometry or ophthalmology practice?
Take a look at a few suggestions for managing online reviews and comments in a beneficial way:
1. Ask for Positive Reviews
The first line of defensive against negative online reviews is being proactive.
When patients have a good experience with you, ask them to share it online. Some of the most popular online review sites include Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google Plus Local. Healthcare professional should also be well-versed on HealthGrades and ZocDoc.
Let your patients know what review sites you are listed on, or ask for testimonials to post on your website or social media accounts.
It’s human nature to be more vocal when we are upset about something, but with some encouragement your best patients may be willing to share about their positive experience at your practice.
You can also send a follow up email with the direct links to your practice profile on review sites.
2. Ask For Feedback
Don’t wait for a couple of negative reviews to roll in before you decide to change a common complaint.
Ask your patients to fill out a survey before they leave, or send it in a follow up email. Ask about specific things, like wait times and the friendliness of staff members, but also leave open-ended space for their comments.
Simply asking for some feedback shows that you value them as patients and want to keep improving your practice to serve them better. Consider it free consulting to strengthen your practice.
3. Focus on Customer Service
In general, negative reviews for medical practices are not about the actual care or services that were received.
Most bad reviews involve long wait times, rude receptionists, or unfriendly nurses or technicians.
Make sure that everyone on your staff knows that treating customers with patience and respect is part of the job description.
Each staff member who interacts with a patient is an extension of you, and your brand. Train all new employees to be strong customer service representatives and then lead by example.
4. Read What People Are Saying About You
Do a Google search for your practice name followed by the word “reviews.”
What have people said about you?
Keep in mind that having no reviews is better than having bad ones (but definitely seek out some positive ones if no one has posted about you yet). Even if you have built up some positive reviews online from previous patients, you aren’t smooth sailing in the online world — yet.
Eventually, a frustrated patient may come along and post a negative review about your business. It happens, even with the most proactive approaches.
Don’t despair if you find a few less-than-stellar reviews. Most patients know to read the good along with the bad and will make an educated decision based on a wide array of knowledge about your practice (and not a single site or review).
It’s still important to be aware of those negative reviews.
If you don’t at least know what is being said, you can’t make the changes needed to keep your patients happy.
Depending on the site, you may be able to respond to negative comments.
You should certainly respond to any negative postings about your practice on social media.
The best plan is to address the concern (even if you don’t think it is legitimate) and to offer to make it right somehow. Perhaps you acknowledge a long wait time but remind patients that your field is unpredictable sometimes — and that the best care for every patient is a priority.
Always stay professional and never try to make any patient look bad. Just the appearance that you are trying to right any wrongs will impress new people who are considering coming to your practice.
You won’t be able to make everyone happy but addressing any complaints shows that you are at least trying — and that goes a long way towards landing new patients.
6. Make Each Patient Feel Important
When it comes to customer service that brings those patients back time and again, research tells us quality takes precedent over speed.
No one wants to sit in a waiting room or exam room for an hour but on the other hand, no one wants to feel like their healthcare is being rushed. If you are having a day when you are running behind schedule, take the time to explain that to each patient and give them the quality time that they have waited to receive.
A Gallup Group study found that people were nine times more likely to come back to a business when the service was “courteous, willing and helpful.”
People understand that when it comes to matters of health, things are unpredictable. But don’t ever let them feel like their own care is taking a back seat to someone else’s.
Providing top-notch customer service is always the best way to get excellent online reviews – but a little extra work to encourage those great reviews will be worth the time when it comes to protecting and boosting your online reputation.