Why do I put such emphasis on curating so many 5-star reviews from happy patients?
Truth is, it’s not about your reviews. It’s about your reputation.
Here’s what I mean:
We live in an incredible time. Anyone, anywhere can go online right now and have immediate access to your reputation at the click of a button.
This means the web can be your greatest asset or your worst enemy for attracting new patients.
Remember these 6 important facts when you consider how much emphasis, energy and budget to apply to establishing and protecting your online reputation.
1. Your reputation is ubiquitous with your online presence. They are tied together.
There’s virtually nowhere you can go online that you aren’t seeing some measure of your reputation.
Google (and pretty much all the search engines) has some kind of review/rating mechanism.
Yelp is one of the most popular sites in the country, and it’s entire premise is to rank and review the reputation of a business.
2 billion people on this planet use Facebook, and guess what: People leave reviews by the millions on Facebook business pages every single day.
The places people are spending their time online – search engines, social media and more – all have components of reputation measurement to them. There’s no getting away from it.
Here’s why this is concerning:
2. You can’t ‘out-market’ your reputation anymore.
You’ve seen the old westerns that have a Snake Oil Salesman scene.
He rolls down main street with his carriage full of ‘Cure-All Elixirs’ and scams the townspeople into thinking he’s got the miracle medicine they need.
He sells his goods and hits the road. He’s long gone before the citizens know they’ve been duped.
And what recourse did they have? Not much. They couldn’t file complaints with the FTC. They couldn’t leave online reviews. They were out of luck. The snake oil salesman could stay ahead of his bad reputation.
Even as recently as a decade ago, it was possible to out-market a bad reputation.
Why? Because patients could only tell a few friends about their bad experience.
If you could market bigger and faster than your bad reputation spread, you won.
But that’s not the case anymore. Thanks to the web and the super computers we each have in our purse or pocket, “we the people” have the power.
If a patient feels mistreated, then can very quickly and easily share that feeling with the entire world.
It doesn’t matter how many marketing dollars you’re spending, if you have a sub-4-star review average on google, or if you only have a handful of reviews, that is a red flag to potential patients.
Am I saying you give poor patient care? No way. I’m sure you do an outstanding job.
Even so, you can still be negatively affected, and here’s why:
3. You don’t have to give poor service to earn a poor reputation online.
This has happened to all my big clients, so I bet it’s happened to you.
You do your best to treat every patient with the utmost personal care and attention. But that one patient keeps seeing the glass as half empty.
“Unreasonable” is the best way to describe him.
And even though you treated him with respect and care, and you even helped him achieve a great outcome…
He still left you a 2-star review on Google.
Or here’s another scenario that’s happened to many clients of mine:
You stumble upon a 1-star review loaded with complaints from a Jennifer Jacobson. You go to check your system… and you’ve never treated a Jennifer Jacobson.
Not only that, but her story sounds ridiculous, and no one in your office can remember anything about her.
That’s because Jennifer isn’t a patient. She’s a fake persona created by a jealous competitor who is trying to smear your name online.
Whether unreasonable patients or underhanded competition, you can earn a poor online reputation at no fault of your own.
Which doesn’t actually matter. You know why?
4. Patients believe what the web says about your reputation.
You may think, “Well, what does it matter with a few negative reviews? Do patients really look at these things anyway?”
Not only do patients look at reviews, but they use them to make decisions. Even when a personal referral is at play.
Consider this true story:
A practice I’m consulting forwards me an email in which a cataract patient, referred by her optometrist, canceled her appointment.
Why? Because she saw a couple of negative online reviews.
Remember, this is an older cataract patient, who you wouldn’t think would be so ‘tech-savvy’ right? Or at the very least wouldn’t trust online reviews as much as someone in a younger age group.
And it’s not like she randomly found the practice online – she was referred by her optometrist, someone she trusted.
Despite those facts, she was troubled by a couple of not-so-awesome reviews, so much so that she canceled her appointment.
Thankfully, she was honest enough to tell us why. For every person like her, there are many others who don’t share their reasoning for canceling. A big part of it is that they don’t like what they find during their research.
How many patients are you losing due to poor reviews, or simply due to a lack of reviews?
Yes, a lack of reviews can hurt as well. Here’s what I mean:
5. If people are locally searching for a provider, in many cases, they have only one differentiating piece of info: The reviews.
Here’s an example from a Google Local search. Take a look at what I mean:
Someone performing this search only has one way to snap-judge your reputation and choose who to click – the reviews.
The first click is the click you want. In the example above, it’s only natural that the practice with 82 reviews is going to get the clicked first much more than the others.
Bottom line is this:
6. Your reputation is out there, and it’s marketing you right now.
It’s not a matter of IF you want to use your reputation to market yourself. It’s simply a matter of what your reputation is already saying about you.
Do you want to be in control and show yourself in the best possible light?
Do you want to create the best opportunity for patients to choose you over your competitors?
Or would you rather leave it to chance and hope that you’re ‘doing enough’ so that patients choose you over your competition?
Hope is not a strategy.
Especially when you consider how much you’ve invested in your reputation:
Hundreds of thousands of dollars for your education.
Decades of your time, hard work and dedication to your expertise.
The personal investments you’ve made to create an awesome patient care team.
All told, we’re talking millions of dollars and basically your entire life – all committed to the life-changing experience you give to patients every day.
What’s it worth to you to protect the reputation you’ve built?
In conclusion, maybe you feel helpless when it comes to managing your reputation online.
I want to encourage you. You can take control, and here’s a list of precisely how you can do that.
- Encourage happy patients to leave reviews on the sites that matter most to you and create a way for them to do it quickly and easily
- Figure out a way to identify and correct as many negative patient experiences as you can before they turn into negative reviews.
- Monitor your reviews across the web, so you know when new ones are posted, and you can respond appropriately (positive or negative).
- Gather and share 5-star reviews on your website so new visitors can read stories from satisfied patients.
- Syndicate positive reviews to Facebook to influence your followers and new visitors.
While this task list is going to take several hours a week, it’s absolutely worth every minute to take control of your online reputation.
If you’re interested in automating all of these tasks and spending only a few minutes a week doing this, let’s chat.
This is something we do for my medical clients across the country, and it works incredibly well. Not only that, but it’s only a few dollars a day to build and protect your most valuable asset as a practice – your reputation.
Book a 10-minute discovery call with me to find out more.
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I hope this essay was useful and eye-opening to you. Don’t lose focus on building your reputation online. It will improve the performance of all your other marketing efforts.