The Importance of Reputation Management for ECPs: Building Your Strategy For Success
By Practice Growth September 02, 2020
We've all probably googled ourselves at one point. But when was the last time you ran an online search for your eye care practice? You might be surprised to learn that your business has more profile listings - and reviews - than you were aware of. In fact, because even major platforms like Yelp and Google Maps allow users to add a “missing” business, practice owners might find that one of their optometrists, for example, has a google listing of their own, with an odd review or two.
You are in charge
First, start with a thorough online search and take control of your practice's reputation. Look up not just your practice's name, but also any DBA names you might have; look up your doctors to see whether they have individual profiles and ratings. Potential new patients might get the name of the doctor from their insurance and what they read up about the doctor online is very likely to influence their choice, but more on this later.
Once you have identified all these profiles, it's time to take control of those you haven't already and begin taking a more active role in managing all of them. If you use several different email addresses for your practice, a good idea would be to pick one specific email address to which you would link these profiles; in the long run, it will be easier to keep track and help avoid being all over the place. Claiming some listings is simpler than others. Reclaiming - either because you no longer have access to an email on the profile or because of inactivity - can be a bit trickier, but still feasible.
You only get to make a first impression once
Focus on making a good first impression. When potential future patients are searching for an eye doctor, they probably won’t be looking up your practice by name. Keywords or phrases like “eye doctor near me” or “optician [zip code]” will yield multiple options. You want to make sure your eye care practice stands out with positive feedback and appealing visuals. Upload bright, high resolution photos. Imagine yourself scrolling through a list of options. Would you click on the practice that showcases a beautiful interior or the one that shows a crowded showcase of crooked rows of eyeglasses? It might seem extreme, but sadly such profiles are not that uncommon! But not to worry, once you've claimed your listings, many of them allow you much greater control; for example, you get to choose the business cover photo, or even delete a lackluster picture someone else uploaded.
Reviews: the good, the bad, and what we recommend
And now the more substantial factor: ratings and reviews. Word of mouth is still as great a recommendation for your business as it has always been, but in our fast-paced digital world it's not the only essential one. Statistics over the past few years alone all indicate just how much online reviews affect decision making. Google might be the fastest growing, but the others - Yelp, Yellow Pages, Healthgrades - are also important.
"Responding to feedback - all feedback - is indeed the best strategy."
Your approach to handling patient feedback needs to be defined and consistent. Whenever possible, sign up to receive alerts so you know when a reviewer posts feedback about your services. Besides signing up to receive direct notifications from platforms you are already managing, Google Alerts, for example, let's you keep track of any new mentions about your business. Decide who in your office, if not yourself, will be responsible for addressing the reviews. Yes, responding to feedback - all feedback - is indeed the best strategy.
Reviews often come from two opposite camps: the very happy patient and the very dissatisfied one. Some practices have a habit of addressing just the bad reviews. Bad reviews happen, and while one one-star review can attract more attention than ten, five-star ones, potential patients would inevitably judge your response (or lack thereof). Give a response that shows your concern and willingness to resolve the issue, but avoid going into personal details (think HIPAA compliance) and responding with a counter argument.
However, responding to only negative feedback gives off a defensive sort of vibe, even when your responses are professional. If reviews are such a powerful reputation tool, why not make the best of it and use it for more than an apology for why those glasses were late? A short personalized response is not only a way to express customer appreciation, but a way to build your brand by giving it a unique voice.
Your website is your business card
Last but not least, let’s talk about your practice’s website and social channels. Because both of these will factor into search results for your practice and appear on profiles we discussed earlier, they are essentially your building blocks for reputation management. Most practices have a website, but simply having a website is not enough. Your website needs several ingredients.
First, include a compelling story that tells the world who you are and what you set out to do. Second, have a page about all the doctors in your practice. When patients look up doctors by name, you want to be sure your practitioners come up in search results associated with your practice. What better way to accomplish this than to include their bios on your website? Include a patient testimonial section; 3-5 reviews are usually sufficient for this section if you are concerned about it looking gimmicky.
Another tip: keep your website up to date. Content updates, current promotions, and working links not only give the impression your practice is cutting edge, tuned into patient needs, and trends, but your efforts will boost SEO. Once your website is updated, include it on the other profiles you are managing as well as on your social media channels.
Social media is a great way to connect with your patients, enhance your online presence and ultimately, your brand. When it comes to the visual factor and handling patient feedback, the same tips would apply to your social media as to the other business profiles. But just like with your website, you have much more control over what content you will be sharing.
And you should be sharing more content - and regularly. You can read up on some tips on how to get the most of Instagram here.
Reputation management is a continual process, but if you have a strategy in place, it becomes that much easier. Follow the suggestions we've listed for you here, so you can get on the right path to making a great impression on your patients!