SAN DIEGO—Why is your online reputation important? Your online reputation is the most important factor people consider when deciding whether to choose your practice. A survey exploring online-purchasing and decision-making behavior found that an overwhelming 88 percent of online users base their buying and service-provider decisions on online reviews. Nothing turns away potential patients faster than having negative online reviews.
When choosing a service provider, people evaluate companies based on the way they interact with past, current or prospective patients. Inadequate reputation management can be considerably detrimental to a practice’s bottom line, but good reputation management can be almost symmetrically beneficial. Ready to take steps to build a good online reputation?
Here are five research-based tips to help you effectively manage your practice’s online reputation.
1. Create or Claim Your Business Review Pages
Before you start receiving your many 5-star reviews, you will need to create or claim business pages for your practice on the major third-party review sites. These include Facebook, Google+ and Yelp, at the minimum. Third-party review sites, such as Yelp and Google+, sometimes use publically available data to create a page for your business. If a page for your practice already exists, you can easily claim it for free and take over ownership of the pages. This will allow you to monitor incoming reviews and respond to them as an official representative of your practice. If there are currently no established pages for your practice, you will need to create new ones.
2. Make It Easy for Patients to Leave Reviews
Once you have established your practice on the major third-review sites, you need to make sure your patients and online visitors can find them. Embed icons on your practice website that link to your social sites—including Facebook, Yelp, Google+ and other social networks your practice is active on—to make accessing these review sites as simple as possible.
For example, embed a “Review Us Now!” button on your homepage that links directly to your business Yelp or Google+ page to make it easy for highly satisfied clients to review your practice with the click of a button.
In addition, give patients a reason to write positive online reviews for you. This does not mean bribing your patients. (Most third-party reviews sites disallow this practice.) However, by providing excellent patient care, offering patients important information about their eye health and perhaps by offering special promotions, your patients will have an outstanding experience that they want to share with others, both in person and online.
3. Monitor Your Current Reviews
Once you have established business pages for your practice, it is important to regularly monitor the reviews posted on them. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to keep track of where your business is mentioned across so many different social platforms. At the minimum, assign one person in your office to track incoming reviews and mentions on Facebook, Google+ and Yelp. Reviews on these highly trusted review sites should be responded to quickly and appropriately. By doing this, you help guarantee that no negative reviews will go unnoticed and hurt your practice’s online reputation. You can use your online reviews to learn more about your current online reputation and see where your practice needs to improve. Particular reviews may even offer insightful advice on how to accomplish this.
4. Respond to Positive Reviews
Thankfully, responding to positive reviews is one easy yet effective aspect of online reputation management. Although it may seem like a lot of work to individually respond to many positive online reviews, it is well worth it.
Remember, patients do not owe you online reviews, either positive or negative ones. Taking the time to acknowledge their opinion will, not only make the initial reviewer happy, but it will also show potential patients reading your online reviews that you are polite, professional and truly value your patients and their feedback. Plus, a one-star improvement on Yelp can translate to a 5 percent to 9 percent increase in revenue. See how these works in this Harvard study.
5. Respond to Negative Reviews
Your practice’s response to negative reviews is almost as important as the review itself. Remember that whether the initial comment is positive or negative, everyone is reading your response. In fact, 86 percent of online consumers would like or love to hear from a company regarding a complaint or negative review. See what this social media guide. Take time to respond thoughtfully and demonstrate how engaged your practice is, how much you care about your business and how you solve potential problems for your clients.
Putting It All Together
Your online reputation has a strong correlation to the success of your practice. A good reputation can draw in new patients and, at the same time, give current patients a feeling of satisfaction and pride. Just like a plant that requires watering and nutrition, you must take measured steps to ensure your online reputation grows in a healthy way. After all, a strong, lasting reputation—the kind that sparks patient loyalty—takes time to build, but will be worth the time and effort in the long run.
iMatrix is a leader in websites and web marketing solutions designed specifically for eyecare professionals. iMatrix’s Reputation Builder Service gives ECPs the tools they need to build and manage their online reputation the right way.