how-to-manage-your-online-reputationManaging your online reputation can be a major factor in the success or failure of a small healthcare practice.

More and more patients are using reviews to make their decisions, so your online reputation is extremely important to manage. It is therefore vital to respond appropriately to negative online reviews. By that I also mean that you can use the opportunity and respond by talking about your side of the story as well.

However, do not to take criticism personally or respond emotionally. Instead keep the review in perspective and don’t take it to heart – remember that this is only one patient experience and everyone understands that things can go wrong, even for the best practice.

Your response to a negative review should be aimed at not only winning back a disgruntled patient, but impressing the wider online audience. There are a whole lot of other potential patients out there, so simply apologise and demonstrate that you care. Remember that potential new patients will be reading your response and forming opinions based on what you do when things go wrong.
You can also be proactive in managing your online reputation by encouraging happy patients to share their experiences. Just as we say ‘if you like us tell your friends and family’, now you can also say ‘if you like us please review us online’, for example on Facebook or True Local.

Once practices get 10 or so positive reviews, they start to get a lot more new patient calls. It’s a very influential way of marketing your practice in a very authentic way. It holds a lot more weight than anything you could actually say.

You should encourage patients to share their stories because there are many benefits. Firstly, good reviews stick in people’s minds more so than bad reviews, and people are more likely to share positive experiences than negative ones, all of which helps spread the word about your practice. It also enables you to address patient complaints that might otherwise go undetected, which gives you an opportunity to improve your customer service.

Practices should never try to “sweep it under the carpet” when they get a bad review. Patients will notice, and that in turn will generate more negative sentiment. Address the negative feedback openly and honestly, without being defensive. One of the best shields against negative feedback online is to build an online community of supporters.

If patients generally love your practice and you look after them, they will often defend you at the first sight of negativity.