The importance of your online business reputation cannot be understated. Just as you have probably used “offline referrals” to build your practice to a certain point (and certainly don’t stop using them), “online referrals” can be a never ending source of new patients.
“Online Referrals”, often referred to as online reviews, are an increasingly important of your overall practice marketing. As my mother told me many times while I was growing up, “What others say about you is far more important than what you say about yourself.” Even true more today than ever.
You can easily find your online business reputation by searching on “your practice name reviews” in Google. The results that Google returns will include (hopefully) many websites where you patients have left reviews. These include Google, Yelp, Healthgrades, and many more.
If you have five or more reviews in Google, you’ll see the star ranking system (1 to 5 stars), which averages the rating your patients have given you. As an aside, it’s a good idea to check the name of the reviewer to ensure he or she is or has been an actual patient. Review fraud is a reality.
Here’s the good news- if you have a number of four or five star reviews by happy patients, prospective patients will be more prone to do business with you. Recent research shows that over 90% of people who are told about a practice from a friend will go online to check it out further. A four or five star reputation can assure them you are going to take care of them.
Here’s the bad news – you may have one, two or three star reviews in the search results. What to do? The first step is to confirm the reviewer was an actual patient and then reach out to them to see how you can resolve their issue. In some cases we’re aware that individuals have gone back and increased a low rating to a high rating when this was done.
What if the reviewer has never been a patient? About the only course of action you have is to respond in writing to the review (on the website in question) and leave a very professional response. As we know, there are always two sides to every story.
Here’s another piece of bad news. You have no or very few reviews. In today’s marketplace with an increasing online awareness in your prospective patients, this signals you really aren’t that concerned about what people say about you. A bad signal to prospective patients.
The answer. Get busy with requesting feedback from your patients (also known as reviews). If you don’t know how to handle or don’t want to take the time it takes to systematize it in your practice, find a firm that specializes in this area. Don’t let months pass without getting on top of this important area of your practice marketing – your online business reputation is important.