Before we do anything, we head online and search.
Want a restaurant nearby? Pull out your phone and search.
Dishwasher broken? Google comparisons before you buy.
Looking for a new doctor? Head online and search the reviews.
Today’s consumers are Internet-savvy; using online tools to find what they need is second nature. And it’s not just online review sites. It’s social media tools as well. People Tweet, use Facebook and Instagram like second languages. They share because it’s our world.
It’s not realistic to sit back and accept things the way they are; savvy businesses know they have to manage their online reputation to protect their market share. Pew survey data shows that 87 percent of US adults have Internet access, 68 percent own a smartphone. And one in five has performed an online search before making a decision for healthcare services.
This behavior is forcing all businesses to reassess their marketing strategy. When refining your online approach, it’s important to concentrate efforts in four areas.
Identifying and using current rating and review sites
There are many different types of review sites online today. You can’t ignore the big players in the industry, like Angie’s List or Yelp, or health related sites like RateMDs or HealthGrades. Yet it’s also important to realize that this industry grows and changes every day. Directory and review sites pop up all the time. Be aware of the new sites and tools, adding new listings whenever you find them. Because you don’t know where patients will search and browse, a horizontal approach is necessary to be in many places at once.
Using social media and engagement
Online resources have allowed closer interaction to take place between patients and providers. It generates feedback, performance, reviews, and resources. Taking a proactive approach means starting the conversation online before initial contact with content and data. Staying one step ahead of the digital curve encourages patients to share their experiences, rather than to react to it once it’s in place. If you don’t have profiles on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, now is the time.
Accepting feedback and reaching resolution
Negative reviews are an unfortunate but unavoidable occurrence for most providers. You can’t please everyone all the time. And as much as you’d like to handle the situation off the grid, it’s simply not possible anymore. Watching for online feedback gives you the chance to respond immediately. By taking control early, others can see what’s being done to correct the issue. We’re human. In the online world, online resolutions work.
How are you doing compared to your competition? How well are you doing over last year? Not knowing is no longer a smart business practice. To ensure success, it’s more important than ever to understand how all levels of business – individual physicians to large facilities – compare and measure up to their competition. Feedback builds trust. Opinions impact growth. If you don’t take control, it will quickly control you.
How are you using your online presence to strengthen your relationships?