“But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.”
William Shakespeare, Othello
I love that quote from Othello. It demonstrates that our reputation is not only incredibly valuable, but it is also easily destroyed. This often happens in a social media culture (at least William Shakespeare didn’t have to worry about someone posting a negative review of “Romeo and Juliet” on Google+).
No one questions the importance of making your practice visible on social media sites. They’re useful tools to promote services. But how much attention do you pay to what happens to your name when it is out there? And how do you get your good name “back” if your online reputation is less than flattering? Here are five simple steps that will help you.
Step One: You don’t know what you don’t know
It’s hard to know how to salvage your reputation until you know what is being said about you. Reputation management involves keeping track of comments posted on popular review sites (such as Angie’s List, Google, Healthgrades and Yelp). Take a careful look at the criticism and ask, Does this reviewer have a valid concern?
If the negative review is valid, the first step in salvaging your online reputation is to fix the problem.
For example, let’s imagine that the most common complaint about your medical practice is that it is too difficult to secure an appointment. Now, you can create “good” online content to displace the “bad,” but as long as patients are still waiting three weeks or longer to get an appointment, the negative reviews will keep coming. Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate how you are doing business and whether or not you or your employees could benefit from additional training.
Step Two: Let the sun shine in
“No one ever hears about the good comments we get.” Then give patients a way to get their positive opinions out of the office and online! Distributing comment cards pointing patients to online ranking sites can help you (keep in mind that offering incentives for positive reviews is prohibited). If you have a patient who is willing to sign a consent form and give a testimonial, place the information in a prominent location on your Facebook, website, or social media sites.
Step three: Listen to your clients
Do you have a service recovery plan in place? If a patient is upset or dissatisfied for any reason, try to resolve the problem BEFORE the patient leaves your office. Once a patient leaves your office, he or she is more likely to “stew” over the incident until it may erupt in a string of negative reviews online. Even if you are unable to resolve a patient’s issue before he or she leaves the office, the effort may make the patient less likely to vent online.
Step four: News you can use
How active is your social media presence? Are you supplying your patients with useful information about the seasonal flu, or is your Facebook page a static wasteland that offers no interaction? By providing patients with useful information, they are more likely to interact with your practice on social media channels. This positive interaction online can serve to balance the negative reviews. Just remember to provide content that is timely, useful, and brief—and avoid constant pitches for services, which may actually hurt your rankings in the long run.
Step five: Reasonable response time
If you have a negative review online, respond to it within 24 hours. Viewers will see your desire to resolve the situation as a good thing, even if the negative reviewer cannot be mollified.
Remember: your online reputation wasn’t born overnight, and it won’t be transformed overnight! While many overworked practices feel they don’t have time to monitor an online reputation, the bottom line is you can’t afford not to!