An online search for "reputation management" yields 62 million results, including a dozen paid ads for services.
The paid ads on Google point to the profitability and popularity of reputation management services.
Reputation management in 2012 involves monitoring the online presence of a company. This could mean looking at social networks, discussion forum comments, and generally tracking who’s saying what about your practice.
It also includes the more active function of responding to negative comments, posting content like blog posts, and managing patient reviews.
Actively soliciting reviews and ratings from patients is a vital function of these services. The good news is, you can do this yourself if you make a habit of it.
Whether you hire someone to get patients to review you online or you do it yourself, here are a few ways to further leverage positive reviews from satisfied patients.
1. Post them on your own website
Create a separate page on your practice website for patient comments. You can label the page "Patient Comments" or "What Patients Are Saying."
Whether you get the comments from online or offline sources, make sure you respect the level of privacy or anonymity of the patient’s review.
Some patients put their full name in their review; others leave it totally anonymously.
Use the whole comment, break it up into paragraphs, or just post an excerpt.
2. Ask permission for future use
Before you try the technique in number 1 above, it’s better to get permission from the patient.
Be explicit when you ask!
Ask if you can include their full name, city, state, occupation, and even a picture. You won’t know until you ask.
If patients are genuinely excited about their experience, they don’t mind sharing some or all of these things. Give patients some idea of how the comments will be used — in print ads, online, or in the office.
3. Ask patients for multiple reviews
One of my patients recently posted her comments and reviews on two separate ratings websites.
All I did was ask her to visit an extra site when she left the comments.
Another way to get reviews in multiple locations is to let patients know they can just leave a quick "star" rating, like at Healthgrades.com. This takes a few minutes and doesn’t require writing a paragraph of comments.
4. Mix reviews with patient education
Imagine you’re a patient looking for information on eczema treatments.
You look at a local dermatologist’s website and read patient education articles on the subject.
Wouldn’t it be powerful if you read a testimonial from an eczema patient in the body of the article? Of course!
Try putting excerpts of patient reviews in your patient education articles.
Even if that particular patient had some other problem, it helps patients to see that other people are happy with your office as they’re reading about conditions and problems they have.
5. Let your patient know what’s next
Finally, think of other ways you can get your happy patients involved in promoting your practice.
Patients who leave positive reviews, especially in multiple places, are bona fide raging fans. They are usually willing to spread the word about you in other ways, too.
After they’ve left a review, let them know you may ask them to do a video review in the future, contact them for a media interview, or let other patients call or e-mail them if they have questions.
If you’re just getting started, I’ve written some guidelines on how to pick patients to review and rate your practice.
Find out more about C. Noel Henley and our other Practice Notes bloggers.