Engaging with Patients and Scoring Testimonials
By Mary Hollis Stuck November 09, 2020
In this day and age, with the internet at everyone’s fingertips, it’s amazing how much you can find out about a business by simply doing a few quick searches. However, even upstanding businesses can get in the rut of having poor reviews on sites such as Google and Yelp. The speed in which an irate patient can post a rant on Facebook after a less than perfect experience is getting faster and faster. Even with that being the case, there are thousands of practices in the world that have tens, or even hundreds, of glowing reviews posted across different avenues. How are they getting their happiest patients to post this information for them? Well, it’s simple. They ask.
Most people you know have reviewed a business on social media at some point. Whether it’s a Google review they submitted for their friend’s shop, a Facebook update raving about how excited they are for date night at their favorite restaurant, or a Snapchat of themselves trying on frames in your optical shop, people promote or retract from businesses online all day long. It’s up to you to find a way to spin that in your favor, and use engaged patients to boost your ratings online. This starts with creating an engaging patient experience from the moment they walk in the door. When patients fill out their paperwork, consider asking them where they learned about your practice. Most practice management software has a marketing interface to allow you to specify whether a new patient was a personal or professional referral, a drive-by, or found you on a specific search engine or social media site. By actively tracking this information, you can determine your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to attracting new patients.
Many practices utilize patient relationship management software such as SolutionReach or Eyecare Prime. Once a patient is in your database, it’s important to ensure that your marketing or social media manager creates engagement with them. For those with an already present social media standing, consider sending out welcome emails. Invite them to check you out on social media or view your online blog. This will allow them to see that you are active online, and they can view the practice they have decided to become a part of. A common use of this software is creating surveys to send to patients after their appointments. While they may be used for internal information, they can also be utilized to request reviews online from patients that give a positive survey response. This can promote your social media pages, asking for review submissions from patients that rate their experience above a certain level. The trick is to try to make it as easy as possible for a patient to promote your business, by offering links to your Google page or other webpages.
Of course, nobody wants to be bothered with spam emails. In fact, there’s a possibility these emails won’t even be delivered to their primary inbox. This is where it becomes important for you to engage with patients directly in the office. Start by looking at patients you’d like to approach. Consider the -12.00 with the -2.75 cyl that was fit for contacts, after years of being told no, and now sees 20/20 at his son’s baseball game as a wonderful example. Another example is the college student who brought in a pair of glasses so mangled that it was nothing short of a miracle that your star optician was able to make them like new again. The moment a patient says “Wow, this more than made my day, you changed my life,” or “I can’t believe you were able to put this frame back together, what do I owe you,” turn that right back around on the patient. Consider adding prompts to the back of your business cards, asking for reviews on social media. The cost is minimal, but the reward can be exponential. While many patients who have an unsettling experience may be quick to post a negative review online, those patients with a positive experience may need a boost or reminder to boast about their service online. Although nobody likes an awkward conversation, and you may feel uncomfortable requesting a review after a patient has just spent hundreds of dollars at your office, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at the number of people who jump at the chance to share their experience online. Find simple ways to remind them that your office really benefits from positive feedback online, and their experience can mean growth for your practice. A genuine request from your staff, after a patient openly states they had a positive experience, can create an influx of new business for your practice.
Business practices and online marketing are ever changing, especially in private practice with a low marketing budget. While we all strive to create the best patient experience, not engaging directly with happy patients can result in a missed opportunity. Changing your mindset about these somewhat trivial requests can truly change the way your business is viewed. Remember, looking for ways to improve your business should never be viewed as something negative; by reading your patients, and knowing how to approach them in the way that works best in your demographic, you can make a positive difference for everyone.