Remember junior high – those few years between childhood and adolescence (when things really got awkward)? For most of us, this period predated the ability to tame our pesky cowlick or find the right shade of cover-up. We hadn’t yet mastered talking to the opposite sex, and for many this era was further enhanced by such trends as feathered bangs and acid-washed jeans. Unfortunately, it also coincided with the establishment of our reputation, version 1.0.
Are you cringing yet at the recollection? Before we undo all of the therapy it’s taken to get past those impressionable years, let’s get to the point. We’re human and poor judgement plagues us all at one time or another. Things that seem reasonable in the moment, like getting glamour shots at the mall, later prove to be a mistake. In the past, the consequences of questionable judgment were relatively short-lived and limited to those in close proximity, but thanks to social media and the Internet, our brief lapses in judgement can now be shared with more people than ever…forever.
Embarrassing trends aside, unflattering publicity in any form can have a very real impact on the success of your practice and, just like Dep styling gel, it doesn’t take much. Every patient you see can potentially blemish your reputation with a few key strokes. One experience with a dental hygienist who’s a little overzealous with the pick can turn into trending hashtags that haunt you – #YourPractice #BleedingGums.
Think no one reads online reviews? We’d hate to call you wrong, so we’ll just say you’re mistaken. According to a Nielsen report, opinions and reviews posted online are key influencers in the decision-making process – second only to recommendations from friends and family.
What’s a doctor in the age of rampant reviews to do? While you may be tempted to publically discredit critical reviews (#StopWiggling), we don’t recommend it. Instead, use negative comments as an opportunity to highlight your professionalism. You’ll benefit more from a caring response to those trending hashtags than a curt reply. In this instance, try conveying concern for your patient instead of contempt. “We’re sorry to hear you had a less than pleasant experience. #YourPractice has been treating patients for over 10 years and strives to deliver the highest level of care possible.”
So should you hang back and wait for an opportunity to defend your reputation? Definitely not. “The best defense is a good offense” certainly applies here. One of the best ways to counter unfavorable reviews is to proactively leverage your best asset – satisfied patients. ProSites’ recently released Reputation Marketing feature is designed to help you do just that.
Not only does ProSites Reputation Marketing make it convenient for patients to review their experience, but the feature also allows you to determine which comments appear on your practice website. Patients can submit reviews via your Patient Reviews page, but nothing goes live on your site until you hit ‘publish’. Unlike the bedroom wall you shared with your sibling, you get to control what gets posted.
Caution – use this power wisely or it could backfire. Only post glowing reviews with five-star ratings, and you run the risk of your practice coming off faker than Lee Press-On Nails. No one is perfect, including doctors, and setting unrealistic expectations is more likely to damage your credibility than enhance it. To add legitimacy to your Patient Reviews page, a good rule of thumb is to display a mix of three-, four-, and five-star ratings with a heavier dose of fours and fives.