Depending upon the size of your healthcare practice, and the volume of online reviews you receive, you will need to design a review management strategy. You don’t have to respond to every review, but it is essential to identify what type of reviews are critical to your practice and patients, and how you will identify and address them.
According to a recent study, you will risk losing 70 percent of potential customers if four or more negative reviews about your services appear in search results. Negative reviews will reduce the likelihood of a new patient coming to your medical practice for his or her healthcare issues, mainly if there are no positive reviews to refute the negative reviews.
Negative reviews are known to lower patients’ level of trust in a healthcare brand.
This makes it essential to do online review management for physicians. Online review management will not only help in preventing negative reviews from happening but also minimize the impact of existing negative reviews.
Why are Negative Patient Reviews Considered Good?
Having only negative reviews of your practice is not healthy for your brand image. You will probably end up out of competition sooner or later. But sometimes, having only positive reviews will also damage your brand image. For instance, an online review such as “Best staff!” can significantly reduce patients’ trust in your credibility. Are you wondering how is this possible?
We all love to hear experiences. And, a two-word story does not help, simply because it doesn’t provide any context. Why is the staff best? Is it because of knowledge, availability, or patient-friendly attitude? Because a two-word review does not give a background or tell an experience, it will not be able to motivate new patients to book an appointment with you.
Also, reviews like “easy to locate” make it seem as if the location is the only positive thing about your medical practice.
One sentence reviews will result in loss of online reputation, a drop in patient volume, and may impact the bottom line.
On the other hand, a detailed negative review may help attract patients. This is because such reviews describe the entire experience and let the readers make judgments. So, if this specific experience is not a key consideration for a new patient, he or she might decide to ignore the negative review and book an appointment with you.
All Positive Reviews? You Could Still Be in Trouble!
What is your first opinion when you see a business with 100 percent affirmative reviews or the highest star ratings? Don’t you get suspicious? And, it’s not just you. According to a recent study, almost 95 percent of potential customers get suspicious of fake reviews if there are no harsh reviews. The point is, uniformly posted positive reviews and five-star ratings can also reduce patient trust.
If you have received a scathing review, then responding to it quickly and professionally will create an environment of transparency and honesty. Most new patients look for negative reviews to establish the credibility of your practice and services.
According to recent research, the likelihood of buying a product with five online reviews is 270 percent greater than a product with absolutely no online reviews. Also, according to experts, the nature of online reviews doesn’t matter. Both positive and negative reviews will help in increasing sales.
Is there a perfect number of reviews or ratings that you should strive for? Well, yes.
The possibility of potential patients considering your practice will peak at star ratings between 4.0 and 4.7 and may come down in the 4.7 to 5.0 range. Most prospective patients find the 5-star ratings to be too good to be true. Also, the more new patients interact with negative reviews, the more time they tend to spend on your website reading about your services. This gives them time to understand your offerings. Such prospects are more likely to convert.
Identifying and Responding to Bad Reviews
You cannot notice a bad review of your services on a third-party review website and do nothing about it. If you wish to benefit from a review, you will have to handle it well. Negative reviews will forever stay negative if you do not handle them well and try to turn them around.
Here’s our recommended process of online review management for physicians:
Monitor online reviews and conversations.
When you receive a negative review, react to it. This is the secret weapon for attracting the attention of readers.
According to a study, nearly 53 percent of people expect brands to reply to online reviews. And the sooner you react to a bad review, the sooner you will be able to mitigate its impact.
As per Yelp, responding to a negative review within 24 hours will make the reviewer 33 percent more likely to change the review. Reacting quickly to unfavorable reviews will help you retain existing patients. It is important to act professionally, but that is just the first step. What should be your next step?
Resolving Negative Reviews
Timing is not the only factor when addressing negative reviews. It is also essential to:
- Know the underlying issue.
- Create an understanding between you and the reviewer. It is a good practice to include the name of the employee responding to all the reviews on social profiles and third-party websites. This will help your patients know who to address their concerns.
- Responding well to negative reviews will improve patient advocacy. Even in this digitally-dominated healthcare world, word-of-mouth is the most potent form of marketing.
Remember– often, two types of patients will write negative stuff about your practice. The first types are the ones that had genuine issues with your staff or service. You can resolve their issues and turn them into happy patients. The second types are the ones seeking attention. With these types of patents, try to take the dispute offline, and offer them discounts or a free consultation.
Appreciate Every Review – Even a Scathing One
Bad reviews also play a significant role in service improvement. Have you ever tried to survey your patients? Surveys are undoubtedly time-consuming and challenging to implement, but even if some of your patients answer all the questions, their feedback will help you identify gaps and improve services.
And, if patients happen to share negative reviews, even that is a goldmine of knowledge. And, you don’t have to chase patients for their feedback. Listen to your patients and their feedback will help you enough majority of quality issues before they escalate. And, when you are responding to negative reviews, take some time out to post a short comment on good reviews as well. This will show that you care about patients all the time, and not just when you have to resolve issues.
Tone, as well as timing, both are crucial when managing online reviews for physicians. So, react quickly and empathize with reviewers. You never know, your outstanding patient service may soon go viral and may start getting bonus points in the form of new patients. It should be a shame not to leverage this golden opportunity.