|By Kristina Martinez | Solution21 | Project Coordinator|
It might feel like you have little control over what is posted on the Internet about your optometry practice, and to some extent that may be true. However, that does not mean you must sit idly by while past patients comment on their experiences. Whether they are singing your praises or criticizing every detail about their visit, there are some steps you can take to interject yourself into the conversation and cast your optometry services in the best possible light.
Why It Matters
Your reputation matters – especially your online reputation. When it comes to optometric care, you already know that your patients have several choices in your community alone. There are no referrals necessary, and many probably don’t even have vision insurance. Ultimately, that means that some patients may be more likely to shop around for an optometrist than they are for, say, a cardiologist. Where do you think they will start their search? The Internet. Bad reviews not only damage your image, but they can also damage your search engine rankings. Why let your competitor enjoy a better Google search ranking just because he or she has better average reviews?
Assess the Damage
It goes without saying that a bad experience gets shared more often than a good one. You could be providing over-the-top service and quality care to everyone that darkens your doors, but it only takes one person to cast a shadow over your glowing reputation with an online review. Perhaps you already know about that one review. Maybe you know about several. Perhaps you have no idea what types of things are being said about your practice on the Internet because you’ve never taken the time to check. At the end of the day, you cannot direct the conversation if you aren’t a part of it. Take time to research your own name and practice on top review sites, including Google and Facebook, to find out what is being said about you.
Remove What You Can
Most third-party websites will not allow you to remove bad reviews from their websites. The exception is social media, which allows you to manage what information is prominent on your page. If a customer tags your office in an unflattering way, simply remove the tag. You can also choose to hide negative comments on your posts.
Know When to Respond
Sometimes it may not be necessary to respond to comments about your practice. However, more times than not, it helps to contribute your voice to the conversation, whether just to say thank you or to address a problem with your practice. This shows that you care about the experience your clients have at your office and want to do everything you can to right any wrongs.
If you come across a negative review, keep your cool. It’s easy to get angry about an online review, but it is best to keep your emotions out of it – even if you want to defend yourself. Do you remember the golden rule of customer service? “The customer is always right.” When it comes to public comments, remember that potential patients are paying attention to how you respond. In this case, the patient is always right. Apologize for any negative experience, assure the issue is being addressed, and offer to make it right.
No News Is Not Good News
Keep in mind that if you research your practice and find that there aren’t any good or bad reviews, don’t be quick to celebrate. Reviews are what drive your reputation. You need good reviews to improve your online visibility and drive new patients through your doors.
No matter where you are in this journey, with effort, it is possible to build a solid online reputation that encourages potential patients to consider your office for their next eye appointment. We recommend:
Asking for Positive Reviews
Loyal, satisfied patients are often happy to leave you glowing reviews; you just need to ask. Try putting a reminder in your waiting area asking patients to ‘check-in’ at your practice and leave you a review. You might even offer a discount on a pair of prescription sunglass frames or accessories for those who do. Even if you have bad reviews, a flood of new positive reviews can quickly overwhelm the bad ones, bringing up your average rating and hopefully your ranking, too.
Establishing an In-House Review System
Sometimes people with bad experiences look for the first place they can to leave negative feedback. A Reputation Management System offers an opportunity to directly to prevent the information from going public. This could be a comment box at the check-out desk or maybe quick follow-up email that includes a link to provide immediate feedback. Ideally, you would be able to rectify the situation before it makes it into the public domain.
If all of this seems like a lot to remember or a time-consuming process you cannot fit into your schedule, we understand. It’s what we do all day, every day, for healthcare providers like you. If you need help managing or improving your practice’s online reputation, contact the team here at Solution21 to find out more about our reputation services. We look forward to serving you soon.