Online reviews have never been more important, as studies have shown that almost 90% of consumers trust them, and admit that positive reviews influenced their purchase decision. When it comes to the online reputation of a doctor’s office this statistic can have an especially dramatic impact, as positive reviews can win the trust of a new patient before they even schedule their first appointment, and negative ones can ensure they never will.
Across today’s digital landscape, doctors and healthcare providers simply can’t afford not to have a formal review strategy in place. Most of the time, a simple Google search performed on a doctor’s office can return several different review websites in the top results. As a physician or provider, it’s critical to:
- Know which websites your patients are posting reviews on
- Have technology in place to instantly respond to them
- Regularly promote positive reviews from happy patients
Our healthcare clients were challenged by this as they have busy offices to run and many didn’t have the technical expertise in-house to implement a clearly-defined process. They’ve shared with us how important new patient acquisition is due to the value of the long-term relationship, and how it all starts with scheduling that initial appointment.
1. New patients are making decisions before they contact you
Today’s internet user is performing more research than ever before, with a recent study suggesting that 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before they make contact with a business. When it comes to choosing a doctor, patients can start their search in a variety of ways, such as keyword-driven Google searches or asking friends on social media. People are educating themselves on a doctor’s qualifications, specialties and reputation long before they reach out to schedule an appointment.
Invariably, a major component of that education will involve a close examination of available online reviews. Perception is reality at this point, and doctors that have 5-star quality reviews stand out above those with average, or worse yet, negative ones.
Bottom Line: As more and more people turn to the internet for information, whether on 3rd party review sites or social networks, favorable reviews become a competitive advantage.
2. The only thing worse than a negative review is a negative review with no response
Every business makes mistakes, whether it’s a faulty product, sub-par service or just providing an overall poor experience to their customers. Doctor’s offices are no different, and are often judged by how well (or poorly) they handle those mistakes. The right online review strategy allows the practice to turn a negative post into a potentially positive sentiment if managed properly.
When it comes to a negative review, speed, tone and context are critical. The speed comes into play by responding ASAP, playing off the idea of instant gratification. If someone feels they were wronged and they receive an almost immediate apology, it can go a long way towards them forgiving the issue. Online review management tools use powerful technology to generate instant alerts to trigger quick response measures.
The best responses to negative reviews take the appropriate tone and offer a genuine apology (without excuses), along with an offer to make things right. That’s where the context comes in, when the specific issue is addressed, vs. a generic apology, it gives the interaction a more personal feel.
Bottom Line: When negative reviews are quickly responded to with a sincere apology, prospective patients take notice and the business appears more empathetic and trustworthy.
3. Quality and quantity matter, and both need ongoing attention
Recent updates to Google’s search algorithm have placed more weight on user reviews, both from a quality aspect as well as quantity. What this means is, websites that don’t have positive reviews, or don’t have enough to satisfy Google’s new criteria, will see a drop in keyword rankings. A solid ongoing strategy can ensure that the volume of reviews is always increasing, and combined with thoughtful execution can help garner positive ones on the quality front.
Online review software with advanced outreach features allow doctors’ offices to email patients strategic messaging that encourages them to share their experience. Over 80% of all Yelp reviews are 3 stars or higher, so these outreach campaigns yield positive reviews more often than not.
Bottom Line: Online reputation is a marathon, not a sprint, and good strategies are built for the long-term
BroadBased has helped a variety of doctors and healthcare providers take ownership of their reputation online and grow their practice, email our EVP Chris Ramaglia to set up a time to talk strategy.