Word of Mouth Has Been Replaced by Word of Internet

Word of Mouth Has Been Replaced by Word of Internet

The internet is a sounding board for people to share their experiences with your practice. If you are doing things right, they will sing your praises…but if you are falling short, they will badmouth your services and quietly ruin your reputation. While one person’s opinion may not seem too damaging, it’s important to know that people trust the accumulation of reviews from complete strangers much more than any amount of paid advertising you might do.

Back in 2012, a customer management company called Convergys revealed that:

Just one negative review on a social media site can cost your vision correction practice to lose 30 new patients.

Of course, you cannot please every patient, 100% of the time. You are bound to receive negative feedback from time to time: unappealing office décor, rude or unaccommodating staff, complications from surgery, etc. When negative reviews outweigh the positive, those comments will begin to resonate as truth with potential patients. Strive for at least a 10 to 1 ratio of positive-to-negative reviews.

What is the Word of Internet About Your Practice?

Ignoring your internet presence is like turning a blind eye to serious and potentially disastrous effects to your practice’s revenue stream. Continual monitoring of your practice’s online presence will allow you to respond immediately to any negativity being spread and make internal changes to turn those patient frowns upside down. Your practice should be searching the internet every day for mentions of your practice on social media sites, blogs, online articles, review sites and more.

Local business listings (LBLs) are often overlooked, but they are extremely important to have accurate. When people search for your practice online, they expect to get the most up-to-date information about your location, phone number, web address, etc. Leave no business listing opportunity unclaimed; it’s an easy and effective way to drive patients to your doors.

Ways to Improve Your Online Presence

  1. Match Your Inside Reality to Your Outside Perception. Step outside the cocoon of your practice and really evaluate what type of experience you are giving your patients during every step of their process, from phone interactions to your physical office space to the actual surgery or treatment. It may be helpful to have an outsider secret shop your practice and report their experience back to you. You may think you are providing the very best care but actually falling short in the eyes of your patients.
  2. Give Your Staff the Tools to Succeed. Every staff member is the potential face of your practice. When they are knowledgeable about your procedures, have effective people-skills and strong work ethics, this will reflect positively for your entire practice. To raise each member to the level of support necessary to succeed in their jobs, they might require specialized training. Consider investing in processes like sales training skills to help patients overcome obstacles to surgery and improve their quality life through your procedures.
  3. Outsource Online Reputation Monitoring. It is probably not realistic to have one of your staff members be in charge of monitoring your online presence every single day. Outsourcing this task will take the pressure off your staff and allow them to focus on providing awesome patient experiences. When the company you hire finds a negative review, they can help you research what went wrong and make changes to remedy problem areas.
  4. Encourage Happy Patients to Talk Virtually. Your happy patients are probably more than happy to sing your praises online – but you have to ask them to do so. The more positive reviews and comments about your practice, your staff and the results you provide, the stronger your online presence will be. Mention this request in follow-up emails to your patients. You can also ask their permission to record a video testimonial that you can then promote on your website, social media, etc.
  5. Assess Your Website. This is often your first sales tool. Ensure that your site offers interactive tools to convert casual visitors into consultations. Tools like Live Chat and Self-Evaluations provide a way for people to take risk-free, baby steps with your practice. Incorporating educational videos into your site may help attract people to learn more about your services and schedule appointments. To improve your bounce rate, ensure that your site is easy to navigate and has an appropriate amount of patient-friendly content.
  6. Monitor Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Your perfect website is worthless if no one can find it. Search engines are constantly changing their algorithms; one week you may appear at the top of searches for your keywords and the next week you may drop off entirely. It may be beneficial to hire an outside company to ensure your SEO strategy is strong and effective so you don’t have to scramble to react to drops in your lead counts.
  7. Start Blogging. Blogs are an excellent SEO strategy that can keep your practice at the top of search engine results. Posting new keyword rich blogs on a weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly basis should improve your standing online.
  8. Be Social. Social media is more than just Facebook. Spread your social wings and get your practice involved in other sites like Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and more. Your potential patients are all over social media (regardless of their age), so it is in your best interest to maintain a constant presence on these sites.

Bottom Line: Good Reputation = More Leads

Your online reputation will make or break your practice’s lead flow. Whether we like it or not, the internet is now a giant referral network and popularity contest. If your practice is actively working to improve your patient experience, encourage positive online reviews and keep your website at the top of search engines, your leads can’t help but increase.

If this all seems overwhelming, there are ways to minimize the strain on your staff. Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, has partnered with marketing companies that can help you increase your lead flow with online reputation optimization programs that are tailored for elective surgery practices. By joining our Management Services Organization (MSO), you can gain access to these resources – and save money on their services – because of our partnership. To learn more about the options available, contact us today.