Medical Practice Reputation Management
For better or for worse, many patients of real-world medical treatments do Internet research prior to making appointments or financial commitments. As such, your plastic surgery practice should get used to the idea of getting “into the driver’s seat” when it comes to taking charge of your online presence, your reputation in search engines, and the potential harm of negative reviews.
How Internet-savvy you are may play a big role in how comfortable you feel managing your own search engine optimization let alone online reputation. Did you know recent research showed that companies can lose up to 10 customers for each one who complains? Other data showed that 13 percent of people who had a negative interaction with a firm will tell more than 20 people about their experiences. Many unhappy patients simply refuse to do business with such a practice again. It is important that negative impressions about your practice be “nipped in the bud” as soon as possible before word can spread.
It’s a good idea to step back and think about your cosmetic practice and any potential problems that could give a patient a bad experience. If you’re aware that problems exist, you should minimize their exposure or, at least, their exposure to prospective patients and patients alike. If you’re not aware of any problems, it might be worthwhile hiring a consultant to pose as a patient who can be “on the receiving end” of your services from an anonymous standpoint. Many practices leverage the data and results of this “secret shopping.” There are documented cases where an office’s troubles turned out not to be the services provided but the staff members themselves. Rude or unprofessional help can leave a bad taste in a patient’s mouth that can be regurgitated and amplified online. Providing truly excellent patient care and support can go a long way toward improving a patient’s perception of your practice even if other problems may still exist.
How you manage your online reputation can dramatically impact your ROI, especially since review sites, seo social media, and other websites and services delve so much into physician online reviews and your medical practice online presence.
Dear Robert. I’d like to take the time to personally thank you for your efforts on my behalf. They have been first-rate, and the results you have achieved are fantastic. While at first I was unsure of the degree to which an Internet strategy could impact my practice, I now only need to examine the books to appreciate what an impact the right Internet strategy can have. Year-to-date revenues are up 550% over this time last year. Internet referrals are four times those of doctor referrals, and nine times those of patient referrals. What’s more, the website looks fantastic and I get nothing but compliments on it. It is such a great improvement over what I had before. It has also been a pleasure to work with you and your team. When I need something, you address it immediately. Now this may sound odd, but it’s true. I’m finally at the point where I’m concerned about your longevity. So much so, that I’m considering taking out an insurance policy on your life, because if you were gone, I don’t know what would happen! You have become the number one asset of my practice, and because of that, you could become the biggest liability if I were to lose you. All in all I would recommend your services completely and would be happy to speak to any prospective clients on your behalf. Thanks again.
Managing Negative Reviews on Review Sites
How do you deal with negative patient feedback online? First, you should understand where a patient will look for online reviews of your practice. Cosmetic surgery sites, review sites, and even aspects of your own medical website design can impact your reputation and online brand. What’s more, search engines play a vital role in establishing your reputation, so understanding SEO is important, too.
If there are valid reasons for negative patients reviews, you may want to consider attempting some sort of “damage control.” This is often not as easy as it sounds. In theory, the goal is to “push down” negative reviews and results in Google and other search engines to the point where patients won’t see them. Unfortunately, this is far from a simple process. In practice, this can mean creating many new sites and pages of content that search engines will pick up and promote more than the negative reviews and results themselves. The process of creating and promoting this content can be extremely time-consuming and expensive, even if you hire a firm that specializes in this type of work. On the other hand, it’s not a waste of time to create and promote positive content about yourself and your practice online; in fact, this is an activity you should be engaging in every day, within your medical practice, in the search engines, in online reviews sites, and social media. In fact, reputation should be a fundamental component of your medical marketing plan.
How You Can Improve Both Your Online Brand and Online Presence
- Positive reviews.
- Service directory listings.
- Articles linking to your practice’s site.
- Positive recognition in local and trade media.
- Press released about your practice.
Buying domain variations of your name and your practice’s name can proactively fight efforts by anyone who wants to “throw mud” at your business in the future, something that can very much hurt your online presence. It also can help to create blog posts, third-party pages, social media posts, YouTube videos, and the like, all of which cast your services in a good light. The more positive original content you upload and distribute, the greater the percentage of the information about you and your practice you’ll control. It’s true that these efforts can be time-consuming and perhaps some of them are already part of your search engine optimization efforts. Unfortunately, this is the age we live in; the greater the resources you can marshal for your Internet efforts, the better your chances will be going up against people who are not able to field such resources.
The success of your medical practice along with your online presence and online brand can be deeply impacted by both positive and negative reviews. Cosmetic practices competing for prospective patients are fighting with you in an increasingly smaller set of organic, non-paid areas, so it’s very important that you take steps to manage your online reputation.