How much time do you invest in managing your physical therapy clinic’s brand reputation?
If you’re anything like the regular marketer, worrying about a million different things at the same time, then you probably let your online reputation work slide. That could pose a serious threat to your PT clinic.
Here’s the thing: studies have shown that over half of consumers decide whether to do business with a company based on the information they have. That means that any comment on your medical team, equipment, facility or customer service could influence the decision of potential patients. And, considering that almost 61% of consumers do online research before making a purchasing decision, a bad review can seriously affect your physical therapy clinic’s reputation and, consequently your bottom line.
But, how can you manage your online reputation when a myriad of other things require your attention?
Here’s a plan that can help.
Scan Your Social Media Accounts
First thing first, claim your PT clinic’s name on all web domains and social media sites. The last thing you want is a competitor, a vindictive former employee or angry client to own your domain handles and post negative comments or poor content on your behalf. Purchase a few variations of your URL (include a few misspellings too) and have them redirect to your official site.
Sure, that’s not to say that you should be active on all social media platforms. That would be counterproductive and not a great online reputation strategy. For example, if your PT clinic targets middle age people, then you should focus on building an active presence on Facebook and Twitter, but you should probably ignore Snapchat since it has a rather young audience.
Make sure to also claim your listing on review sites like Yelp or Foursquare and check them regularly as people tend to use them to rate the services/products they’ve enjoyed or disliked.
Now, that all that is out of the way, it’s time to learn how to monitor your social media accounts so that you intercept any potential reputation problem before it snowballs into a nightmare. Surveys show, 17.4% of U.S. consumers use social media to voice their complaints about brands. Worryingly, 32.8% of brands never offer a response to social media criticism, meaning that 289 million complaints remain unresolved every year.
Social media monitoring is perhaps the best way to keep an eye on what is happening with your physical therapy clinic, learn what your competition is doing and discover what current and prospective patients are saying about you.
The good news is that this task shouldn’t take you more than 15-20 minutes a day. Review all your social media channels daily and read every new mention or comment. Address nasty comments as soon as possible and try to turn complaints into positive reviews. Don’t focus on negative reviews solely and make sure to thank or engage in conversations with the patients that praise your services.
Google Your Physical Therapy Clinic
A sound online reputation management strategy extends beyond social media and looks at the comments and reviews prospects leave on all sorts of platforms. As such, running a quick Google search is paramount if you want to maintain your PT clinic’s reputation pristine.
Don’t get the wrong idea: you don’t have to spend hours on end reading every blog post or watching every video that mentions your physical therapy clinic’s name. That would be an incredible loss of time, energy, and resources.
A better and smarter way to perform a Google check would be to type your PT clinic’s name and see what keywords are associated with your brand automatically. If words like “scam” or “fraud” pop up when you Google your name, then you have a serious problem on your hands that you need to address immediately. For one reason or another, these are the most common keywords associated with your brand name, meaning that any potential patient that just now learned about your PT clinic may deem you as shady and dishonest based on these results.
Another effective way to do a Google search is to scan the first page of search results for bad reviews or negative ratings. Reach out to the person that had a negative experience at your clinic and ask them about their problem. Show them that you care about their satisfaction and are ready to make things good again.
Of course, you won’t be able to address serious problems in just a few minutes of online reputation management a day, but you can include them in your strategy. For example, if you need to fix nasty keyword association, you can begin to create articles, guest posts, videos, press releases, and optimize your content so that, in time, you change your target audience’s perception of your physical therapy clinic.
Respond to Reviews
Simply acknowledging that you have a review and recording it in your log is not enough. You also need to address them and engage people in a conversation. Just imagine that you are waiting in line at your neighborhood store when you hear someone talking trash about your business. Or, au contraire, they seem to be extremely happy with your services and want to share their experience with the world. Would you just sit there silently without intervening and asking about their problem, for example? Chances are you’re going to take action.
The same should happen online.
By responding to reviews, whether good or bad, you show patients that you care about their needs and put them before your business’ profits. You also get a chance at correcting an error and apologize for the negative experience the patient had at your clinic.
That leads us to the next step.
Learn That It’s OK to Say “I’m Sorry”
To err is human. As much as you’re trying to deliver only the best services and medical treatment to your patients, sometimes you just screw up. Maybe you’ve scheduled two appointments at the same hour, or you’ve forgotten to let one of your patients know that their consultation has been canceled. It can happen even to the best of us.
What matters, though, is how you handle these sensitive situations. Instead of getting into defense mode every time some writes a negative comment about your physical therapy clinic, try to assess first if you were, in fact, at fault. If you made a mistake, be honest about it, and offer your apologies to the patient. Also, let them know that you plan to rectify the situation so that another patient won’t have the same unpleasant experience again. Move the discussion to a private channel or over the phone and see if you can offer some kind of compensation to the patient, such as a voucher or a free consultation at your clinic.
If it wasn’t your fault and the patient has the wrong information, try to explain that to him in a friendly and professional voice. Again, don’t get defensive and don’t insult the customer, even if they are rude. Don’t respond to hateful comments because you are only providing fuel for the trolls. Engaging in discussion with them is counterproductive and won’t help you improve your services or provide better experiences for your customers.
The best way to react to them is:
- Ignore them;
- Forget about them;
- Focus your time and energy on responding to comments that might impact your business.
Learn How to Turn Negative Comments into Praises
While a negative comment won’t necessarily mean the destruction of your business, it can be hard to stomach it. However, instead of ignoring them or becoming aggressive, it’s best to address your patient’s complaints promptly and respectfully. Use bad reviews as an opportunity to showcase your excellent customer service, and to turn unsatisfied customers into loyal advocated.
Here’s how to do it:
- Put Yourself in Your Patient’s Shoes
Try to understand why your customer is thinking and feeling that your business has deceived them. It could be that they just had a bad day. If that’s the case, and you handle the incident like a pro, you might win over a loyal customer. If not, you might have gained insights into the minds of many of your customers.
- Listen and L.E.A.R.N.
L.E.A.R.N. (Listen-Empathize-Ask-Reassure-Never Forget to Follow Up) is an effective technique that you can use to handle complaints and solve conflicts.
- Listen: Sometimes, all a patient wants is to share their feelings with you. Maybe their complaint is not a real problem, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them.
- Empathize: As mentioned before, try to walk a mile in your patient’s shoes and see the world from their point of view;
- Ask: Most of the times, you will find out that their requirements are not as exaggerated as you’ve expected;
- Reassure: Tell them you are trying your very best to resolve the problem;
- Never Forget to Follow Up: Find out if your patients are satisfied with the solution you provided and if the encountered any other problems.
When in Doubt, Automate
Staying on top of your brand image and catching every mention that may harm or benefit your physical therapy clinic is no easy job. Thankfully, you can always automate this process and mention social media and brand mentions as well as collect reviews without too much fuss.
An automated reputation management system allows you to collect reviews by sending emails after a patient is discharged, asking them to review their experience at your clinic. If the patient gives a positive review, then they will be redirected to a dedicated landing page asking for a review on sites like Google or Facebook.
That way, you’re not only encouraging people to rate their experience, but you gain control over the negative reviews and limit them. Furthermore, this system allows you to keep in touch with your patients, learn what they liked and disliked about your physical therapy clinic, and take the necessary steps to ensure their future experience will be flawless.
When it comes to online reputation management, reacting to your patient's comments fast can help your brand. The sooner you begin paying attention to mentions and solving complaints, the better your physical therapy clinic will be. However, there’s a fine line between being helpful and pushy, so try not to cross it.
If the prospect of monitoring and managing your online reputation seems overwhelming, the experts at PatientSites.com can give you a helping hand. Our goal is to help you acquire new patients, nurture existing ones, and thrive. Moreover, we have an automated system in place that can take the pressure of social media monitoring off your shoulders and allow you to generate reviews without being pushy or annoy your patients.
Contact us today to see what we can do for your business.
Image Description: How physical therapy clinics can manage their online reputation with a few simple tricks.