If you do not control your brand image online, someone else will.
These days, almost every transaction starts online. If existing or potential patients see harmful content about your medical practice in search engine results, you are taking a considerable risk of losing not just revenue but also your reputation.
Reputation management for healthcare is not just about monitoring; you also need to control what is being said about your medical practice on the Internet. As your practice grows, you will quickly find that people are discussing your services and, more importantly, reading what others have said about your brand and staff.
Here’s a quick task:
Google your practice’s name, and take notes of what shows up in the search results.
Do you see something unfavorable or adverse?
Do you only see a few results for the website that you own?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then you have online reputation management work to do. In order to help you stay in control of your brand image, here’s an essential guide on how to control your online reputation:
Track Your Brand Online
One of the most critical aspects of reputation management for healthcare is to know what is being said online about your medical practice. You need to monitor your brand regularly. If you do not know what is being said, you will not be able to respond. And if you do not respond, your reputation will take a negative hit.
Monitoring search results, blogs, social networks and other content online can be a challenging and time-consuming task. Fortunately, there are useful tools available for medical practices to effectively monitor their brand image. Here are a few:
- Google Alerts
- Social Mention
- Twitter Search
You can use these tools to monitor online conversations and mentions and spot any risks to your reputation. If harmful content about your medical practice is brewing online, you can detect it and handle it accordingly.
Improve Your Social Media Presence
Social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube typically rank well for branded searches. If you have not already created profiles on each of these social media platforms, you must do it immediately. Not only does this give you additional platforms to distribute positive content about your practice, but it also helps you control the information available in search engine results.
However, if you want to push a negative search result off the first few pages of Google, then create as many social media profiles as possible. By staying active on social profiles, you can get them ranked on the first three pages and push the negative results further down.
When you create a social media profile, be sure to use your brand name for the username. It is essential to ensure no one else has control of misrepresenting your practice online.
Publish Relevant Content to Control Search Engine Results
By regularly posting relevant content about your medical practice, you will improve your chances of outranking harmful content. The goal is to secure all 10 spots on the first page of Google for your brand. If you haven’t already, you should create a blog to publish content. It also gives you a reliable platform where you can directly respond to any significant allegations made about your medical practice, if necessary.
Your blogs, along with social media profiles, will serve as a platform to distribute content and have it ranked in Google.
Encourage Patients to Share Positive Reviews
Many patients are quick to share a negative experience or complaint, but most don’t think about expressing appreciation for excellent service. A simple request for patients to provide favorable reviews can go a long way in reputation management for healthcare. You can make these requests on your social media profiles, website or a sign in your establishment.
Patient feedback builds credibility for your medical practice. Positive reviews can help boost search engine rankings, provide new patients with a sense of trust and help quiet the negativity of any scathing reviews. A study at BrightLocal found that 84 percent of consumers read reviews to determine the quality of medical practice, and 80 percent of customers will take action after reading a favorable review.
Take Responsibility for Mistakes and Respond to Criticism
Once you start tracking your online reputation and discover that negative reviews are being posted, you should promptly respond to them. Negative reviews, if left unattended, can spread like wildfire on the Internet. Responding quickly is the best way to minimize the damage because it ensures that your point of view is also seen by anyone reading the negative post.
If your staff makes a mistake or does something wrong, you must own up to it. Make an honest apology to those who have been impacted. Admit the error and fix processes so that it doesn’t happen again. You should be transparent so patients can see the steps you are taking to fix the issue. Projecting regret and openness will help you win back trust.
Do Not Engage in Conflicts
Negativity has a way of getting people involved in arguments and take extreme steps. In the heat of negative exchanges, it can be easy to be dragged into an argument that damages your image. Even if you are right, you might lose out overall by coming across as unprofessional and harsh. Professional and courteous responses will always win over more patients than being “right” in a disagreement.
If you receive a negative review and you feel you’re being drawn into a conflict, take a step back and relax. Scathing reviews can feel like a personal attack, and it is reasonable to experience an emotional effect. The best approach is to ignore or diffuse the situation and take the conversation offline. Try to deal with the issue one-on-one and come up with a satisfactory resolution.
Provide Great Patient Service
Focusing on providing excellent patient service is the best way to avoid reputational disasters. If you focus on providing the best care possible, your happy patients will be your best promoters and defenders of your medical practice. They will support you and speak favorably about your medical practice if a reputation crisis ever occurs. You will not have to stress as much about reputation management for healthcare when happy patients are spreading good reviews about your practice.
An excellent healthcare brand can take years and thousands of dollars to build. But it only takes one bad patient experience to go viral and hurt your bottom line. It is even worse if you do not know it is happening and you are not on top of the situation. You can use this essential guide to monitor, manage and control your online reputation against bad online reviews.