The Web has amplified physicians’ interest in Internet reputation management. With the increase of rate-your-doctor sites like Yelp.com, Vitals.com and RateMDs.com, doctors’ interest in attaining positive online patient reviews is exponentially increasing. And all for good reason. Not just do great reviews bode well for the practice’s reputation online; they additionally increase credibility in Google’s rankings. However, is it unethical for a practice or physician to request that satisfied patients post positive reviews online? I say absolutely, so long as it is done under specific guidelines:
Request that only real patients post reviews
It is disheartening to witness medical groups resorting to review-stuffing. By that, I mean the circumstance of requesting office staff, family and friends to pose as patients on the Internet and pile glowing praise on a physician group or provider.
Phony reviews are oftentimes simple to spot. Typically, they’re long on adjectives and brief on facts.
Faux reviewers usually say very little about a medical condition or events of the physician’s appointment. The reviewer instead, waxes on and on of his doctor’s greatness and delivers insufficient proof that supports his opinion.
Request – do not pressure – that satisfied patients rate their experience
Incentivizing or pressuring patients to publicly comment does not pass the smell test. This type of approach additionally will jeopardize the delicate doctor-patient relationship.
Instead, just ask your most satisfied patients – those who have already expressed their gratitude for successful treatment – to state something on one of the above rank-your-doctor sites.
Offer your patients frequent feedback opportunities
Give individuals an opportunity to both complain and compliment. One objective includes hearing from the complainers prior to them going public in hopes of privately resolving their grievance. Conversely, your other objective includes identifying the most satisfied patients in order for you to encourage them to say positive things on the Web.
Take the good with the bad – publicly answer reviews
Merely responding to criticism using a non-defensive tone will go a long way toward signaling to others on that website that you are listening to customers. It also sometimes encourages your main fans to come out to your defense by putting up counter-balancing good reviews.
Nevertheless, feel free to discuss broad policies – like what your practice is now doing to decrease wait times for doctors or why physicians oftentimes require patients to book a follow-up appointment prior to getting a prescription refilled.
Deliver excellent customer service
American’s in the 21st century want an ATM on each corner, grocery stores to be a 5-minute drive from home, a Starbucks on every block, gasoline stations which serve fresh food, and their physicians to show up in a timely manner and offer them adequate attention, and billing departments and medical receptionists which treat them with respect and kindness.
Medical practices that have the worst service routinely get the worst reviews online. The best reviews online begin with the best service. Be kind to your customers and they’ll be kind to you online.
For more information on online reputation management contact Soaring Away at (910) 471-5030.