How Online Reviews Can Impact Your New Patients NegativelyPosted on
Even as technology advances, many people use old-fashioned ways to find health care providers.
A personal recommendation is one of these ways. Sure, prospective patients can look at your website and ask for your professional credentials, but the words of other patients matter.
So, if reviewers say negative things about your practice, or if your reviews look suspicious in other ways, it may hurt.
Some things that may harm you and your practice include:
No reviews or several bad reviews
People are going online to check out reviews of your practice and how it operates.
If they don’t find any, they might be suspicious. They might believe your practice has something to hide.
Or, if they find several negative reviews and few positive ones, they’ll probably be more reluctant to contact you and visit. Even in a digital age, word of mouth matters.
Several five-star reviews
No-star reviews could hurt a practice, but too many perfect ones could as well.
Although we strive for perfection, it’s impossible to achieve and expect it all the time. Patients know this, so they might be a little suspicious if they see nothing but excellent reviews on your site.
They might wonder if the large number of excellent reviews are real, if you’re forcing people to post positive reviews, or if you’re suppressing negative ones.
Age matters on the internet. Old reviews and old content might not be as useful as newer, fresher information.
That’s because a review might mention a professional who no longer works at your office or a service your practice no longer provides. The comment might not have bearing on what you’re doing right now.
A 2018 poll found that 85% of consumers didn’t consider older reviews to be relevant. If your practice only offers older reviews, they might consider you to be irrelevant as well.
Similar posting dates
The dates of online reviews are important for other reasons.
If you’re posting reviews of your own practice or encouraging others to do so at a specific time, the reviews might be on or around the same dates. That could look suspicious, as if you’re paying for people to add comments, for example.
To counter this, you could gently encourage patients to leave reviews. Some may choose to do so, and some may not. But these decisions will be the patients,’ and they’ll hopefully result in the occasional honest review that could help you and other patients.
What people post is as important as when they post it.
If people use incorrect information in their reviews of your practice, it’s imperative to correct it.
Without corrections, people might believe things about you, your practice, or medicine that just aren’t true. If readers know this information is incorrect, a failure to remedy the situation could make you look ignorant or lazy, like you don’t care about your practice or the people it serves.
Inconsistent information or responses
Reviews with inconsistent information or responses could also harm your practice and its reputation.
Some reviews may state that your practice does some things, and some may state that it does others. If some of those things are false, it’s important to set the record straight with correct, consistent data.
Furthermore, it’s important to be consistent in your responses. It might be easier to acknowledge good reviews and ignore the bad ones but responding to all reviews demonstrates your engagement with current and future patients.
Late or no responses from your practice
When correcting information or responding to reviewers, make sure you do so in a timely fashion.
Answering promptly is another way to show you care and that you’re responsive to criticism. If you correct your mistakes, it illustrates how you’re willing to admit your frailties and are working to overcome them.
Monitoring and responding to reviews regularly also shows you what people really think about your practice. It lets you know what people want and could help you find ways to fulfill these needs and desires.
Other ways to counter bad reviews
While negative online reviews aren’t ideal, if you handle them correctly, you could use them to enhance your practice. Some actions you could take include:
Thanking people for their reviews, even if they’re negative, could help manage your online reputation.
That’s because your words of gratitude acknowledge what’s been said. It sees people, their praise, and their concerns.
You’re acknowledging that people care, and your thankfulness shows that you acknowledge them as well.
Being professional, not personal
Giving words of thanks also keeps matters on a professional level.
A negative review might hurt. We might want to lash out, saying that the person writing the review is wrong or that they don’t know what they’re saying.
Taking a professional tone will reap more dividends, however. Thanking people for taking the time to share their thoughts shows that you’re concerned about them as well as your professional and personal reputation. As an added bonus, this acknowledgement could buy a little time while you decide what to do next.
One of the things you could do next is to offer a few explanations.
After acknowledging their concerns, you could add a few words of explanation. If patients are having trouble understanding your new billing system, for example, you could mention if your office has recently started using new software.
By explaining things, you’ll be giving your patients answers to their questions. You’ll be showing that you’re eager to help solve their problems together, that they’re not on their own.
Working online to fix the situation
Addressing reviewers’ questions publicly could help your practice and your patients.
When you provide detailed, personalized answers and solutions, your patients will receive resolutions. People who were hesitant to post their own feedback might find that you’ve already addressed their concerns.
Since you may be addressing many patients’ concerns at once, you might not have to respond to people individually. Or, you could be preventing such concerns from occurring entirely. This could save time for you and your coworkers, giving you time to attend to other matters.
Working offline to fix the situation
Of course, not all issues can or should be resolved in public.
After all, we still live in a HIPAA world. While you want to make your responses personal and resolve any disputes, you still have to protect your patients’ health information.
Consider saying something like, “Please contact my office so we could discuss issues privately and in depth.” Using a personal approach could help you reach resolutions in ways that are more efficient and satisfying.
Not asking people to remove reviews
Even if negative reviews bother you, don’t ask people to remove them.
Asking to remove comments could make it look like you care more about your reputation than your patients, that you’re dictating instead of collaborating. On the other hand, keeping reviews posted gives an honest, well-rounded appraisal of you and your practice.
These reviews will ideally also feature your professional, courteous responses that show that you’re aware of what people think and are willing to consider their suggestions.
You’re in the health care field to provide help, and reviews and review responses show your eagerness to provide it.
If you need help yourself, contact Practice Builders. We’ll help you find different ways to communicate with your patients, address their medical needs, and manage your business.