Guard Your Practice’s Online Reputation
By Dave Miller
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet
In less than a decade, the factors that influence our purchasing decisions have changed dramatically. Whereas we used to rely on advertising, personal recommendations and word of mouth, we now turn to the advice of strangers via online reviews and ratings. In the past, a company set the tone for how we perceive and relate to their product. And, barring a major recall or scandal [anyone remember the Tylenol recall in the 1980s?], a company was able to set the tone for how we perceived their product. Today, the internet makes it possible for anyone to influence the reputation of a company by simply broadcasting their thoughts via an online review or rating. And eye care is certainly no exception to this trend.
Unfortunately, people are 21% more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one. On the bright side, this gap has been decreasing as it becomes easier and easier to share your experience with a simple star rating or a few words (the average review in 2018 was roughly the size of a tweet today; 65% shorter since 2010).
Here are some interesting findings in a 2018 report from ReviewTrackers:
- 64% of people say they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business.
- 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week, yet 63% say that a business has never responded to their review.
- 45% of people say that they’re more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews.
- 94% percent say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business.
Even though the vast majority of your patients are most likely delighted by the service your eye care practice provides, they aren’t always the ones taking the time to share their experiences. You may have a patient who leaves with a big smile on their face but then turns to Yelp or Google to vent about their perception of a long wait, rude staff or high prices – whether it’s true or not. As a small business owner, you can’t control how your patients perceive you, but you can be proactive in managing your online reputation.
Guard your practice’s online reputation with these simple and practical actions:
Start with a Google search
Search for your practice name and each doctor’s name to see what people are saying about you.
Claim your online presence
Social media may not be your thing, but your practice should definitely be in control of your online listings. If you haven’t already, start by going through the relatively painless process to claim your practice in these six key online properties:
- Google My Business
- Apple Maps
- Bing places for business
Monitor your practice’s online reputation
Get in the habit of Googling your eye care practice at least once a month (more frequently if you can) to make sure you catch reviews as they happen. You can also set up automated alerts to get information about reviews and posts that mention your practice as they happen. Facebook Notifications and Google Alerts are two great examples that are easy to set up.
Respond quickly and professionally
If you get a negative review, it can be really, really hard not to take it personally and lash out with how you (as an actual person with feelings) really, really feel about the reviewer. However, you are also a smart business owner who knows the importance of treating your patients and customers with respect and dignity. Here is a very thorough guide for “How to Respond to Reviews” from ReviewTrackers that I recommend. To give you a sneak peek, here are the 7 steps they recommend in greater detail for how to craft a response to a negative review:
- Address the reviewer
- Say thank you
- Apologize and sympathize
- Take responsibility
- Make things right
- Take the issue offline
- Ask for a second chance
Stack the deck in your favor
Knowing that patients are less inclined to leave a positive review, go ahead and ask them for it! Put a sign at your front desk or add a line to your invoice that says something like “We hope we exceeded your expectations today. Please let us know how we did by sharing your experience on Google Reviews or Facebook.” A survey from BrightLocal found that 70% of customers will leave a review when asked to do so. Because people also consider how recent reviews are, make it a regular practice for your staff to ask satisfied patients to post positive comments online.
What does this have to do with MacuLogix?
Like you, we are also a small business with an online reputation to build and manage. While you are thinking about ways to improve your patient care and practice revenue, my team is thinking about how to improve our brand awareness and reputation. Our customers have been extremely generous in sharing their knowledge with us, that this is one way I can give back by sharing my knowledge back with them.
About the Author
Dave is a business professional with experience in marketing strategy, public relations, and marketing communications. His previous position was with McKesson where he spearheaded the strategy and execution of content marketing and lead nurturing activities efforts for a $13 Billion customer segment to drive new business and incremental sales. Prior to McKesson, he worked in high-tech public relations with a variety of agencies and clients in Silicon Valley. Dave earned his B.S. in Psychology at Penn State University.