This article was contributed by Lance McCollough, founder and CEO of CDA Endorsed Program ProSites
We have all said it. We constantly think it. Then it happens. So, what do you do when the “it will never happen to me” turns into “what do I do now?” Eventually, reputation management becomes an issue for every practice owner, so here are five insider secrets that will help you avert a reputation crisis.
1. Google Alerts – Signing up for Google Alerts allows you to receive notifications every time your predefined keywords are mentioned on the Web. Simply go to google.com/alerts and input queries you wish to be notified of (e.g., your practice name, your name, etc.), how often you want to be notified, and provide the email address that you want to receive your alerts.
2. Encourage feedback – Feedback builds credibility, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. Positive reviews online can help boost search engine rankings, provide new patients with a sense of trust and can help quiet the negativity of one unsettling review.
An exorbitant amount of negative feedback is bad. Very bad. However, the occasional bad review is not the be-all, end-all of your reputation. In fact, a negative review can build credibility, proving that your reviews are legitimate and come from real patient experiences. Just be sure to respond to negative feedback in a professional and respectful manner, and attempt to resolve the issue at hand.
An absence of online reviews can also be a red flag for prospective patients. Without a solid understanding of other patient experiences, prospects feel like a practice without reviews is more of a gamble, thus are less likely to select said practice as their provider.
Don’t forget about moderating your blog comments, too! Your practice blog is a great way to educate patients and prospects about your services; however, if former patients are leaving negative comments about their experiences, you may inadvertently be losing new patients. Luckily, all blog engines allow administrators to moderate comments. Changing your settings and requiring comments to be approved before they’re published could prevent you from unknowingly perpetuating a poor reputation.
3. Realize it only takes one fatal flaw – Major corporations have had their fair share of meltdowns and know it only takes one negative customer experience to explode online, causing significant damage to their reputation.
When large companies experience negative feedback that goes viral, they promptly respond to the problem, admit they did wrong, vow it won’t happen again, and revamp their procedures. Should you ever suffer the setback of viral negativity, follow mega-corporations and proceed to take responsibility, “right” your “wrong”, and generate a plan to prevent the situation from recurring. Just as the initial negative complaint was publicized online, publicize your renewed customer service policy and remember to always provide patients with superior care.
4. Use available resources – There are free online resources that can help you start managing your online reputation. Brand Yourself is a self-guided reputation management firm that allows users to control the amount of spending they put toward reputation management link-building. A free account with the company enables users to influence the Google search results for their chosen name, such as “ABC Podiatry.” The user can then link profiles, add backlinks, and manipulate their pages to help rank desired pages while bumping less favorable pages down in the search engine results. To start your free account, head over to brandyourself.com.
5. Consider a reputation management professional - A good reputation can take years to build; and you don’t want to let one negative online review destroy your reputation. To prevent this from happening, you may want to consider hiring a company like Demandforce. This type of professional reputation management improves patient satisfaction and your online reputation by allowing you to personally respond to negative patient reviews, shielding your practice from unfavorable publicity.
Remember to continually monitor what Internet users are saying about your brand. With the ever-increasing popularity of online review sites, it’s no longer a matter of “if” but “when” you receive your first negative patient review; and when that time comes, you’ll want to respond with integrity to keep your online reputation glowing, but you’ll also want to adapt your services and professional approach to prevent a similar situation in the future.
ProSites is a leading website design and Internet marketing company, specializing in dental-practice marketing. Endorsed by CDA, ProSites offers easy and affordable website solutions to help dentists successfully market their practice online. For more information, please call 888.327.5212 or visit prosites.com/cda.