With the millions of moving pieces to managing our online presence, it’s incredibly easy to get distracted and make a few mistakes. Keep in mind that all not all mistakes are created equal; while some of our slip-ups can easily be rectified, others can have long-lasting, negative effects on our PT practices.
For example, if you misspell something in a blog post or Tweet, you can easily edit or delete it. Likewise, if you realize that the color scheme for your physiotherapy site doesn’t match the tone of your brand, you can change it relatively easily.
However, making a mistake in the worlds of press and public relations can ultimately tear your business apart. While some may believe that “any press is good press,” consider the potential pitfalls of a PR nightmare:
- Loss of trust amongst existing and patients who no longer see you as a reliable or legitimate practice
- A drop in business from existing patients who’d rather seek out someone new than stick with a practice they feel they can no longer trust
- Damaged brand reputation, both online and off, which impacts current and future partnership, advertising and opportunities to acquire new patients
So, how can your business protect its online reputation and ensure your patients’ trust by avoiding a PR snafu?
Have Procedures in Place
Both online and off, it’s crucial to have procedures for professionalism in place to avoid potential controversy for your business. Keep in mind that avoiding a PR nightmare isn’t all about you: it’s also the responsibility of your team to do everything in their power to avoid any major slip-ups. For example, ensure that you have explicit procedures for the following:
- Communication with future and current patients, including email and phone templates to avoid going “off the cuff,” especially when dealing with problem patients or those intent on complaining.
- Screening and hiring employees, with a strong emphasis on people skills and customer satisfaction; hiring such employees will ultimately cut down on complaints and potential problems.
- Incentivizing and providing positive feedback to employees to maintain a healthy work environment; a positive climate with make your colleagues less prone to error and motivate them to work for you.
Explain the goals of your practice and brand to employees so that they understand why you have these procedures in place. After all, you’re simply looking out for everyone’s best interest.
While you shouldn’t live in fear of your employees causing potential PR problems, you should also cover yourself with procedures to make sure your team is on the same page when it comes to maintaining a positive rapport.
Be Careful with Controversy
Controversy is a great way to garner attention for your brand, either on your blog or social media; however, controversy can also be a gateway to PR problems. It’s crucial that brands tread carefully when it comes to what they discuss online; remember, you’re a medical practice first and foremost. For example, make sure to avoid the following:
- Commentary on potentially divisive subjects such as politics or religion
- Sensitive patient information or rants about problem patients; keep confidentially in mind and watch your temper
- Bashing your competitors: while you want to differ yourself from the competition, you don’t want to look like a bully
In other words, your physiotherapy practice’s blog and social media doesn’t represent your soapbox. When in doubt, act professionally.
Mind Your Words
When it comes to patient communication, you need to be especially careful. Remember, just about anything can be documented and nothing simply “disappears” from the Internet. For example, nothing’s keeping an angry customer from screenshotting your rude email and putting it online for the world to see.
Especially in an era of online reviews and transparency, patients can be particularly brutal as they pick your business apart. Don’t waste your time and energy entertaining needless complaints; instead, do everything you reasonably can to help and wear a smiling face.
For example, if someone leaves a negative online review you can respond reasonably and offer a solution. By doing so, you have “the last word” and show other potential patients that you’re trying to take the high road.
Managing your online reputation and presence can be a headache, but it doesn’t have to be. By following best practices and keeping a positive attitude, your practice will thrive rather than suffer a PR nightmare. If you’re looking to keep your online reputation clean as you grow your physical therapy practice, consider letting PatientSites help you along the way.