Online Reputation Management
For better or for worse, many users of real-world therapeutic and/or medical treatments do research with the Internet prior to making appointments or financial commitments for all kinds of services. Therefore, aesthetic physicians should further get used to the idea of getting “into the driver’s seat” when it comes to taking charge of their online reputations.
How Internet-savvy you are may play a big role in how comfortable you feel with the idea of managing such online reputations. 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. Most of these unhappy clients refuse to do business with such a company again. Therefore, it’s important that negative impressions about a practice be “nipped in the bud” as much as possible before word can spread.
It’s a good idea to step back and think about your practice and any potential problems. If you’re aware that problems exist, you should think how you can minimize their exposure or, at least, their exposure to clients. If you’re not aware of any problems, it might be worthwhile hiring a consultant to pose as a client who can be “on the receiving end” of your services from an anonymous standpoint. There are documented cases where the culprit of an office’s troubles turned out not to be the services provided but the staff members in the office. Rude or unprofessional help can leave a bad taste in a client’s mouth that can be regurgitated and amplified online. Providing truly excellent customer service can go a long way toward improving a clients’ perception of your practice even if other problems may be apparent.
Managing Negative Reviews
How does one deal with negative feedback online? The first and most obviouss way is by being Internet-savvy, as was stated above. But what does this really mean? It means understanding where a client or potential user of your services will look for online reviews of your practice. It also means learning the rudimentary basics of how search engines work and how they prioritize search results.
If there are valid reasons for negative online reviews of your services, you may want to consider attempting some sort of “damage control.” But this is often not as easy as it sounds. In theory, the goal is to “push down” negative feedback and results in Google and other search engines to the point where users 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 results that are already present. 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 work exclusively. On the other hand, it’s not a waste of time to create and promote positive information about yourself and your practice online; in fact, this is an activity you should be engaging in by default every day.
Here are a few ways of achieving a favorable online image:
- Positive reviews
- service directory listings
- articles lining to your practice’s site
- positive recognition in local and trade media
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 or your stature. It also can help you to create a plethora of blog entries, third-party pages, social media posts, YouTube videos, etc., that cast your service 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. 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.
But it’s not just about the expenditure of time and money; it’s about being smart regarding in how you concentrate your efforts. If you’re determined to spend a lot of time fighting your attackers, this can backfire due to what is sometimes called the “Streisand Effect,” whereby the efforts spent fighting the negative publicity about a topic actually amplifies such publicity, rather than reducing or quelling it. Instead of attacking your naysayers, promoting yourself vigorously can often allow you to outflank your antagonists and produce more positive results than can the opposite process.
Of course, you have to be careful about how to approach this effort; if you hire an inexperienced firm to engage in this work on your behalf, you could wind up in trouble with regulatory authorities if things don’t work out well. It’s usually best to try and make an organic and genuine effort yourself to create such positive content, instead of hiring firms that specialize in “hot air.”