Episode 007 – Ensuring a Positive Online Reputation
On this episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast, hosts Garrett Smith and Don Lee give you effective strategies for ensuring a positive online reputation. Garrett and Don discuss why your online reputation is important to patients, and how you can take advantage of the power of online reviews, even if you already think you have a great reputation. For more information about this episode, and the complete show notes, please continue reading below.
“What You Will Learn”
On this episode of the practice marketing podcast you will learn:
- What does “online reputation” mean
- Why your online reputation is important to successful patient acquisition
- How you can ensure you and your practice have a positive online reputation
Segment #1 – What does Online Reputation mean?
- Word of mouth referrals has long been a strong source of new patients for practices, but today that “word of mouth” is moving online in the form of online ratings, reviews, and social recommendations from other patients.
- Patient’s have access to all of this information at their fingertips, and are constantly inundated with this information along their journey to find a provider, which leaves them with a perception of what your practice is like.
- This means your practice’s online reputation is the sum of what existing (and former) patients say about your online, in addition to things such as your website, press mentions, and your directory listings.
- Your goal is to ensure the offline realities of the great things you do are properly reflected online.
Word of mouth has shifted online, in the form of online ratings, reviews, and social recommendations, which help shape a perception about your practice to the outside world. Your goal is to make sure that the offline realities of the great things you do are properly reflected online.
Segment #2 – Why your online reputation is important to patient acquisition
- As we keep saying, patients are heading online first, and so what they find out about you and your practice makes a difference in whether they book an appointment with you.
- Even if they patient has received a number of referrals, or recommended providers, they are going to “check them out” offline, and even ask their friends and family (in public) about their experiences.
- Imagine that a patient has been given a few names of providers in the area. The patient then begins to research her options, beginning with a simple Google search of “Dr. Smith dentist.” The patient is going to see at least four or five different rating or review website profiles for Dr. Smith. If the star ratings on these sites are low across the board, or if the most recent patient reviews are negative on a particular profile, the patient is likely to come away with an unfavorable opinion of the provider.
- If that same patient then goes to Google with one of the other names she has, “Dr. Jane Doe dentist,” and she sees positive reviews across all of her profiles (and there are plenty of them), the patient is likely to have a favorable opinion of the provider
- Who do you think a patient will choose?
- At a much higher level, you really have a duty here to inform patients about how great your are. After all, you don’t want to lose patients to a provider who is better at marketing, then they are at practicing medicine.
Since over 90% of patients consult online reviews before making a decision about their care, ensuring a positive online reputation that reflects the realities of the great things you do offline, is paramount to successfully marketing your practice online.
Segment #3 – How you can your ensure a positive online reputation?
- First make sure you’re providing patients with great care, and commensurate results. Reputation management is not a band-aide for poor care, services, and or experience.
- Train your staff, especially your front desk, about the importance of patient experience, and how to go about soliciting reviews from your patients and commensurate results.
- Constantly monitor your online ratings, reviews, and social media profiles for new ratings, reviews, and recommendation using a software tool.
- Implement an online reputation management program that solicits feedback and reviews from patients on a consistent basis. Take the time to review ratings, reviews, and comments from patients.
- Meet with staff to discuss positive, and negative reviews, alongside any operational changes that will enhance the patient experience, services, or results.
Ensuring you have a positive online reputation requires you to first provide great care to patients, who you can then tap for feedback and reviews, which can then be used to implement changes in order to continually improve your practice’s operations.
Garrett Smith: 00:00 Hey everyone. Garrett here. For more information about insuring a positive online reputation, check out chapter six in Book Now, Internet Marketing for Healthcare practices, available at Healthcaremarketingbook.com.
Don Lee: 00:12 Hey Garrett, over 90% of patients find online reviews helpful, but most of the doctors I know, they don’t like ’em. Why is there this disconnect?
Garrett Smith: 00:20 On this episode of the Practice Marketing Podcast, you will learn what does online reputation really mean. Why your online reputation is important to successful patient acquisition efforts, and how you can ensure you and your practice have a positive online reputation.
Speaker 3: 00:37 Are you looking to take your practice to the next level? Well, you’re in the right place. Welcome to the Practice Marketing Podcast with your host Garrett Smith and Don Lee.
Garrett Smith: 00:49 Hi there. Welcome back. This is episode number seven of the Practice Marketing Podcast, ensuring a positive online reputation. With you as always, your host Garrett Smith with my co-host, Don Lee, and uh, we’ve got another exciting episode, this time focusing on those pesky online ratings and reviews.
Don Lee: 01:08 So, pesky online ratings and reviews. How about we start with some context here for the listener and lets just tell them what does online reputation really mean?
Garrett Smith: 01:18 Yeah Don. I think when I take a look at online reputation and, and what it really means to, today’s private practice, I immediately start to think about word-of-mouth referrals. Now, throughout my entire career working with private practices, I have been told over and over again that word-of-mouth and referrals are the strongest source of new patients for practices. I believe them, and I believe that, that is uh, you know still true today.
Garrett Smith: 01:42 However, I think that this idea of word-of-mouth is moving online and it’s really taking the form of online ratings, reviews and even social recommendations from other patients. Now, the thing to remember and we’ve talked about this a number of times on different episodes here of the Practice Marketing Podcast. You know, patients have a tremendous amount of information at their fingertips today, and when it comes to ratings and reviews, along their online journey of discovering a care provider, they are inundated with that information.
Garrett Smith: 02:13 And, and what ends up happening is, is that throughout their journey, throughout their search to find you and your practice, these ratings and reviews are heavily influencing them and really helping to shape a perception for what you and your practice is all about. And so, really, when I think of online reputation, and what it means to a practice, online reputation is merely the sum of what existing and also former patients are saying about you online. It includes ratings and reviews, but also your website, press mentions and even your, your doctor and business directory listings.
Garrett Smith: 02:48 And really, at the end of the day, when it comes to online reputation management and your online reputation, what you’re really trying to do, is to ensure that the offline realities of the great carrier providing and the great things that you’re doing in the community, are properly reflected online throughout all the touchpoints of a patients journey to find you, and your practice.
Don Lee: 03:07 Yeah, I think that’s a really good point about aligning those off line and online realities, and that latter one is really important as that accepting that there is this online reality. The ratings are out there. People are looking at them, and they’re influencing their decisions whether we like it or not, so it’s reality.
Garrett Smith: 03:25 Yeah, they always say that ignorance is bliss, but I think in this case, ignorance is a miss. I think uh, practices and you mention, you know, some of those doctors who, you know, sort of shake their head, or kind of look down upon rating and reviews and say, “You know, it’s hogwash,” are really missing an opportunity. And, we’ll talk a little, bit more about that opportunity later in this episode, but I think the biggest thing again to remember, is that online reputation is something that you can control, and really all you’re trying to do is just show and tell everybody all the great things you’re doing.
Garrett Smith: 03:58 And so, this isn’t a game. You know, this isn’t something that is a fad. This is an aspect of the internet and the new realities for a private practice, who’s trying to acquire new patients. And so, it’s no longer okay to be ignorant, it’s no longer okay to be [inaudible 00:04:15]. This is something that if you wanna be successful today and into the future, you’re gonna have to embrace and, and learn how to manage and leverage for your benefit.
Garrett Smith: 04:27 Pro tip number one. Word-of-mouth has shifted online in the form of online ratings, reviews and social recommendations, which helps shape our perception about your practice to the outside world. Your goal is to make sure that the offline realities of the great things you do are properly reflected online.
Don Lee: 04:47 Okay Garrett. So, let’s talk about this from the standpoint of a practitioner. I wanna know why is my online reputation important to patient acquisition?
Garrett Smith: 04:57 Absolutely. Well, we’ve already discussed at [inaudible 00:05:00] that patients are heading online first. And so, it should be very obvious that what they’re finding out about you and your practice, makes a difference in whether they decide to book an appointment with you. And so, the example that I always use is, let’s talk about those referrals. Let’s say that there’s a patient, and they’ve received a number of referrals or recommended providers. I have no doubt that they’re going to head online to check them out, and even ask friend and family in, in public, so I could totally see and I’ve seen this before.
Garrett Smith: 05:30 Someone says, “Hey. I’m looking for a new pediatrician on Facebook,” or, “Has anyone ever had experience with Doctor Jones? I’m thinking about going and seeing her, but would love to have any feedback.” And so, what’s happening is, this patient gets these names of providers who they are not familiar with, they don’t really know. And, what they do is they begin to research their options, right?
Garrett Smith: 05:52 They do a simple Google search, you know, for the Doctor Smith, Dentist, or acme medical practice and the patient’s gonna see at least four or five different rating and review websites for Doctor Smith, and, and her practice. And, the reality is, is like, if the star ratings and the reviews on these sites are low across the board, or if the most recent patient reviews are negative, this patient is likely to come away with an unfavorable opinion of the provider.
Garrett Smith: 06:19 On the same token, if they took the next name and they Googled, you know, Doctor Jane Doe, dentist, and uh, Doe the Dentistry, as the practice name, and, and what the patient sees is positive reviews across all of, the profiles, there’s a large volume of ’em. Some of, the things that are written in the reviews are, are glowing accounts of the experience there. The patient is likely to have a more favorable opinion of the provider and the practice, and so … You know, when I give people that example, I just kind of leave it up to them.
Garrett Smith: 06:48 It’s like, “What do you think the patient would choose,” or, “Who do you think the patient would choose,” and, and the reality is, is that, that’s what makes online reputation important to patient acquisition is that these, rating and reviews are highly visible for searches for your name, your practice name, but also follow you around when patients are discovering you, and the practice by looking for different services, treatments and, and also conditions that uh, potentially you can help them with.
Garrett Smith: 07:13 And so, the reality is, is that, patients are constantly seeing these, uh, study after study, uh, suggest that they are highly influential. And so, to not be participating, leveraging and uh, even influencing your rating and reviews by having a really nice online reputation management program in place, you’re missing out, and you run the risk of all your other marketing efforts being less effective.
Don Lee: 07:38 Yeah Garrett. That last point that you made there about marketing as a duty, or marketing as a service I think we’ve talked about it before, that’s the one that I’ve really latched onto, because if you are the best at what you’re doing, and you are not putting yourself out there, and you’re not putting yourself in a place where the patients are gonna find you, basically, you’re putting them at the risk of being marketed to by a lesser professional, somebody that might not do as good a job for them. So, it really is, like I think a lot of times people worry that, “I don’t wanna be salesy. I don’t wanna do marketing. I want my [inaudible 00:08:13] to speak for itself.” Well, this is part of that. You know, it just needs a little bit a, it needs a little bit of oomph behind it, so that it can speak for itself. It’s your, it, it’s important.
Garrett Smith: 08:22 Yeah. You don’t have to be the world’s greatest self promoter, when it comes to online rating and reviews, but, but that is a reality that there are practices out there that are better at marketing than they are at medicine. And so, you know, if you really, you know, believe in that oath that you’ve taken and you really want to help patients, part of your duty I feel is to let them know that you’re here, and that you are providing quality care and that in your area, there is a choice to find someone who, who does care and does provide high quality care. And one of the ways that you can reflect that, is with online reviews.
Garrett Smith: 08:58 Further, the last thing I think that, that’s important that, you know, you may wanna remember, even if you’re not in private practice, if you’re an employed physician, this is an area that you can influence and control. You know, you don’t have to wait for your marketing department to put budget into your specialty area, or your department. You can work with your existing patients, and let them know that online reviews are important to you, it’s a way that new patients find you and you know, you would love if they would go online and review you.
Garrett Smith: 09:27 Asking for a review is not a bad thing. Patients are customers and consumers, and consumers and customers are used to being asked for their feedback. And uh, without a doubt, every single provider that I’ve worked with, or practice that I’ve worked with, has not only done a better job with their online reputation by putting in a program, but they’ve also learned a tremendous amount about what they can improve inside of their operation, in order to provide better care, and, and also a better patient experience.
Don Lee: 09:55 I like that, taking matters into your own hands, and not waiting, you know, in that employed physician model, not waiting for the marketing department to come along and do that for you. And, I gotta imagine as just, as a professional, there’s gotta be value in that, should you ever want to move along, right? If you’re going to get a job at a new hospital, I gotta imagine, if you’re going in with a four star rating, versus a two star rating, or something lesser, there’s gotta be some value for doctors there too no?
Garrett Smith: 10:22 Absolutely. I think that’s a great point. I mean, this only enhances your chances of moving into private practice, or if you move on to a new organization, or better organization, it, it’s only going to help you. And so, I hear so much from providers in practices that they sort of feel helpless or, or lost in this whole process, and, and again these things are right at your fingertips, they’re accessible, isn’t something that again, is this huge lift, like a, a lot of people think.
Garrett Smith: 10:48 And, the reality is, is that once you can get past the idea of soliciting a review, whether in person or via text message, or email, the reality is, is that patients love to sing your praises, and you’re gonna find that many more patients are gonna rate you five stars, with a glowing review, than are going to, you know, rate you a one star and take you to task.
Garrett Smith: 11:12 Pro tip number two. Since over 90% of patients consult online reviews before making a decision about their care, ensuring a positive online reputation that reflects the realities of the great thing you do offline, is paramount to successfully marketing your practice online.
Don Lee: 11:32 All right Garrett, so I’m buying in and I see the value.
Garrett Smith: 11:35 Finally.
Don Lee: 11:37 (laughs) I see the value, in managing my online reputation. So, how can I ensure that I’m getting a positive online reputation?
Garrett Smith: 11:46 Absolutely. Well, I think first and foremost, you have to make sure that you’re providing patients with a great care, and in results that are commensurate with what they’ve been promised. And, quickly I always say that reputation management is not a bandaid for poor care, for poor services, or a poor patient experience. The reality is, is if you’re not providing great care, if you’re not providing an effective service, or if you have a really terrible patient experience, nothing that I or anyone else can do is going to fix that. You have to start with that first.
Garrett Smith: 12:18 However, most of you who are listening to this probably already have that figured out and are completely find, and you really just need to figure out how do I amplify this, and how do I make sure that everyone finds out about the great things that are happening for our patients. And so, first and foremost, I think once you get past the fact that you’re doing a great job, you gotta look to train your staff, especially the front desk staff.
Garrett Smith: 12:40 The reason for that is, is that we found that most of the negative reviews that come out there, tend to have something to do with patient experience, and more often than not, that has to do with something that happened with an interaction, or an error or an issue with the front desk, not the provider themselves. So, training your staff, the front desk staff about the importance of patient experience, uh, and even how to go about soliciting reviews from your patients, or survey feedback is very important, because they are highly influential in whether, or not you’re going to get one star or five stars.
Garrett Smith: 13:12 Once you got that training component out of the way, and by the way, training may be ongoing. You may need to remind folks every month, every week, every quarter, every year, depending on, on how well they adopt these things. You really, wanna make sure that you’re constantly monitoring your online ratings, reviews, and social media profiles, so that you can see when new ratings and reviews are coming in, or another recommendation pops up. Obviously, you can use a software tool that makes it really easy. You can task somebody on your team with that, uh, maybe front desk staff, and do it manually.
Garrett Smith: 13:43 Honestly, the choice is yours. It’s based on budget and what you’re comfortable with. But really, you gotta make sure that you’re keeping a pulse on what’s being said about you in the practice. Once you’re doing that, really the next thing to do is to kind of implement on online reputation management program that is designed to solicit feedback and reviews directly from your patients on a consistent basis.
Garrett Smith: 14:03 And by consistent basis, I mean daily, weekly, or monthly, uh, depending on your patient volume. And, as you’re getting in this feedback whether it comes internally to you and the, the world does not see it, or it manifests itself as, you know, reviews on third party websites, you know, business and doctor directory rating sites, you really wanna take the time to review those yourself, and then with your staff, so that you can potentially take that feedback, take those ratings, take those reviews, and implement any operational changes that will enhance the patient experience, uh, the services you’re providing or the results that patients experience as a result of online reviews.
Garrett Smith: 14:42 So, there are five basic steps to ensuring that you have a positive online reputation. Start with make sure you’re providing patients with great care, make sure you’ve trained your staff on the importance of the patient experience and online reviews, constantly be monitoring those, uh, rating and review profiles, uh so that you understand what’s being said. Implement a program that allows you to solicit feedback and reviews from patients on a consistent basic, and then make sure you’re, that you’re taking the time to review all of that information that’s coming in, and discussing it with your staff, so that you can implement any changes that will enhance uh the great things that your practice is already doing.
Don Lee: 15:19 Yeah, there’s so much there that I like, and I think uh, the, the first and foremost I like the start with great care, and that this is not a bandaid and I think that’s true with anything. Like, you can do a really great job with your marketing, and you can fake it for so long and you trick people for so long, but eventually that word’s gonna get out, and know it’s gonna be good, so I love that. First, good care. Be valuable. Then, tell people about it, then try to, you know give your patients the opportunity to go online and say nice things about you. I like that.
Don Lee: 15:47 And, there’s something too, that can be said just about the act of asking for something, and that humans want to reciprocate. It’s like wired into us, right? So, if you have an opportunity where you just did a really good job for somebody and they’re happy, and they’re like, “Oh Doc. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.” That’s probably like the perfect time to ask ’em right, and give, and, and again you’re like giving them the opportunity to reciprocate, which is what they want.
Garrett Smith: 16:11 Absolutely Don. I think, you know, less than one percent of all patients are gonna leave an online rating or review for you or your practice, if they’re not solicited. And so, that’s a very low percentage and so what tends to happen to practices and providers who are not participating, is because the percentage is so low, and it tends to skew towards people who had a negative experience, you usually … If you’re not doing anything, your scores are probably much lower than what they would be as if you were actually doing this.
Garrett Smith: 16:38 The, the reality is, is that, you know I think across sites, across all providers, most rating and reviews end up being a three and a half star, and that’s for those reasons. Low organic volume, so patients just aren’t doing this normally without being asked, unless they’re upset and that’s gonna kind of skew the numbers. The next part about this, is that I think it’s really important to remember that online reading and reviews are the output. They’re not the inputs and the inputs are really important, and so, online rating and reviews, what they allow you really to do is create a really nice feedback loop for your practice, so that you can continually evolve and improve.
Garrett Smith: 17:14 And so, I like to say that, you know, you wanna have great positive online rating and reviews to show new patients that you are doing great things. However, you really want that data so that you can improve your practice continuously, so that people will continue to sing your praises and talk about all the great things you’re doing, because you’re only as good as “your last review.”
Garrett Smith: 17:39 Pro tip number three. Ensuring you have a positive online reputation requires you to first provide great care to patients, who you can then tap for feedback and reviews, which can then be used to implement changes in order to continually improve your practices operations. On the next episode of the Practice Marketing Podcast, we will discuss how you can build authority for you, and your practice with consistent content. See ya next time.
Speaker 3: 18:09 Thank so much for listening to this episode of, the Practice Marketing Podcast, with Garret Smith and Don Lee. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please leave a review and subscribe and for more great content, and to stay up-to-date, visit inboundMD.com/podcast. We’ll catch you next time.
Garrett Smith: 18:26 Hey everyone Garrett here. For more information about ensuring a positive online reputation, check out chapter six, in Book Now, Internet Marketing for Healthcare Practices, available at healthcaremarketingbook.com.