Why You Need to Manage Your Online Reviews

Every day more and more people are turning to the internet for just about everything including information about their healthcare providers.  The good news is that your patients are telling people about their experiences in your office via online reviews.  Word of mouth always spreads much more quickly online than it does offline.  The bad news is that not every review is a good review.  Here are a few examples pulled at random.

From Yelp

1/13/2011

I have contacted this office several times with questions and have only gotten a response once.  I decided to go there for something once and was happy with the audiologist, but the receptionists leave much to be desired.  They made me feel like I was interrupting their gossip time when I showed up for the appointment.  After the first visit, I needed to ask a  question via email and again, never received a response.  I decided to call them and the receptionist who answered the phone answered my question with, “I think we have those” and reluctantly went to check.  She came back with a tidbit of information and when I asked another question about the price she said “I think they are like $9 or something…” not offering to find out for sure how much they cost.  Until this office gets some friendly and competent staff, I will be taking my business elsewhere.

A Google User

reviewed 3 months ago

Went there for ringing in the ears. They did some useless test on how my hearing was, I knew it was ok. They told me I needed this device to help with the ringing but they wont work with you on payments. If you dont have the money, they dont seem to know you anymore.

A Google User

reviewed a year ago

Damp environment. Old and outdated equipment. Communication issues. Performed excessive procedures, must have been a slow day.  Will never go again. Not recommended.

I am certain that one of two things can be inferred about the owners of the companies that received these bad reviews:

  1. They were and still are unaware these reviews exist.
  2. They’re aware of the reviews but have no idea what to do about them.

 

Reviews either are appearing about your business or they will be appearing, it’s just a matter of time.  You have three options.

  1. Find and manage your reviews.
  2. Hire a company to manage your reviews (hopefully they also have a system that can help you to acquire reviews and address existing reviews).
  3. Ignore the entire thing and hope for the best.

 

Just in case it isn’t crystal clear, Option 1 and 2 are far more preferable to Option 3.  And yes, our sister company, Obelis Media does offer a Review Management program, click here for more information.

Online Reviews in Healthcare…Something New?

Online reviews in healthcare are nothing new.  In 2004 Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman was a Harvard Business School student exploring ideas for promising startups when he caught the flu. His online search for a doctor eventually led to the creation of Yelp Inc.

Both consumers and business owners have been slow to embrace the idea of reviews. There a probably a multitude of reasons for the hesitation.

  • Uncharted territory – For both groups this is new territory and while some people embrace “new” others are loath to change.
  • Look at me – Consumers are a little unsure about posting both positive and negative reviews so publicly. What if they post a negative review and then need to return to that particular healthcare provider?
  • The good, the bad and the ugly – Business owners tend to fear asking a consumer for a review only to realize the review isn’t a happy one.

Who’s Looking and Why?

The ways reviews affect business have not been fully understood—yet.  But what is clear is that the posting and researching of a business via reviews is increasing.

Approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business. (Local Consumer Review Survey 2012)

In “Scoring Healthcare: Navigating Customer Experience Ratings,” PwC found that 48 percent of 1,000 representative respondents said that they have read online reviews related to health care, such as: doctor ratings, hospital reviews, insurance company information, and pharmacy/medical device reviews. Of this 48 percent, 68 percent said that these reviews influenced their decision – and that they used the info to choose where to get health care.

Seven percent of Consumer Reports readers surveyed said they had plans to change hospitals after reading its recent hospital safety ratings story.

Reviews can function as a tie-breaker.  All things considered equal, timely reviews and consumer feedback become an important—often decisive—ingredient.

Where Should I Be Online?

Good question, easy to answer, difficult to predict.

You want to be where people will find you.

Here are a few places where consumers may go to find reviews about your business.

  • Angie’s List
  • Google+ Local/Reviews
  • Yahoo! Local Listings
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

You also want to make sure you have a system in place to not only find reviews that have been posted about your business, but what to do with them when you get them.

Should I Wait?

Online reviews are “word of mouth” recommendations spread digitally.  You’re success rate is always much higher when you start and control (as much as possible) the conversation.  Jumping in to defend your business or to provide information after the proverbial horse is out of the barn is never a good idea.