Online reviews are more important than ever. Think of them like ever-reaching opinions that would have been shared by word-of-mouth in the past. Anonymity can be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing depending on perspective. People are more likely, to be honest in their evaluation of care when they can write about experiences from behind a screen. Yelp and Google are just two of the places people can go to leave reviews besides your website. Technology growth and the popularity of these sites have created an industry for online review sites. With so much information at their fingertips, you can bet that tech-savvy, potential patients will peruse your practice’s reviews before they set foot in your office.
An increase in the role of online reviews means your medical marketing plan should incorporate active engagement of current patients. Of course, you’ll want to encourage patients who are happy with the personalized care they received in your office. Rather than focusing on the inevitable negative review, put your energy into overwhelming the negative with the positive. People tend to trust other people who have no personal stake in the practice more than they trust the actual providers at first. Because online reviews will impact your bottom line, they must be treated as a vital marketing tool. Optimized360 incorporates an user-friendly review portal as part of their OBGYN website design package.
- Make it easy.
Have an iPad in the office bookmarked to review sites? All members of the staff should learn to take advantage of every opportunity to solicit positive reviews. Once the appointment is complete, the time is right for assessing patients’ experiences. Friendly greetings from the office team during check-out facilitates communication. During the ensuing conversation, establish whether their experience was positive. If so, ask if they would take a few moments to leave a review before leaving the office. Ask if they have a favorite review site and hand over the iPad with the requested site already up and running.
It should be noted that only patients who have had positive experiences are encouraged to leave reviews. Make sure staff pay attention to details like whether or not the patient is in a good mood and taking their time as they make their way to check-out. If they are rushed or in distress, it is probably not the best time to ask for a review.
- Trust loyal patients.
Patients that return time-after-time have clearly exhibited loyalty to the OBGYN and the practice as a whole. Ask them about their experiences and determine if they would be willing to write an online review. There are various ways to engage loyal patients. For those with active email accounts, send a follow-up email to express your appreciation for their continued support. Provide links to a couple of the more popular review sites like Yelp and Google Places, along with the link to leave reviews on your website. An even simpler approach is to hang a sign at the front desk. This will give an opportunity for those without internet access to use the office iPad. Prospective patients will appreciate honest reviews from people who have been long-term patients. In this way, your long-term patients help converts prospects into new patients.
If you are struggling to get patients to leave online reviews even though feedback has been positive, why not just ask the patients? A quick conversation about the importance of online reviews may simply be something current patients haven’t thought of since they are content in their choice of OBGYNs. Don’t make the mistake of waiting to ask. Once the patient has left, they are less likely to take the time to complete a review. If you receive a compliment, casually bring up what a big help it would be if they would go to their favorite review site to leave feedback online.
- Offer incentives for patients’ time spent on valuable reviews.
Schwag is a slang term many of your younger patients (and young at heart) will know well. Free products or discounts on elective services are often enough to motivate patients to leave a review. The great thing about an incentive program is that you can play around to find what works best with your demographic. Simple items like t-shirts, water bottles, frisbees, or sunglasses bearing your logo can be given when patients complete a review on the spot. Plus, you get a bit of free advertising as they use the schwag in public.
For those patients who don’t have time to leave a review while they are still at the office, you can offer discounts for certain services or printable gift cards online. Be sure your patients are not pressured to write a positive review. While it would be great if everyone did so, that should not be a condition of the reward. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of giving something to each patient who writes a review, as though it is a pay-for-play situation, there are alternative incentive options.
- Set a raffle (earn a ticket for interacting with you on each social media outlet).
Perhaps an alternative for physical schwag given for each review could be entries earned for a monthly drawing. For example, if the patient likes your Facebook page or follows you on Twitter, it equals 1 ticket. A Google review can earn 2 tickets, etc. For this sort of raffle, the incentive could be something a bit more substantial like a gift certificate for a 30-minute massage from a business associate. In turn, you may offer your associate an option to use at their business. These natural associations will build online traffic and benefit all involved.
Optimized360 offers a stellar reputation management program. As part of our social marketing package, we design and set-up a page on which patients can interact and leave reviews. Patients can easily hop to this page from your website or social media accounts. It is part of local search too, so people in your geographic area have access to authentic patient reviews. The fact the page exists is stepped one. Monitoring the page is the most important factor in establishing a positive online presence, besides providing quality care and services. Monitoring services alert you to any negative reviews before they go live. How you handle the negative reviews can become a positive for your practice. Actively engaging in solving a problem, whether it is real or perceived will make you look like a dedicated professional who truly believes in the value of each patient.