We live in a world of online reviews, and they have been a real game changer for business. Like it or not, 92% of consumers go online to check out a provider’s reviews before choosing him or her for a critically important service, such as cataract surgery or LASIK. Fortunately, there is a secret to encourage patients to write positive reviews and manage negative ones, not if but when they arise, that has proven effective for ophthalmic practices.
HOW GOOD IS GOOD?
So, what constitutes a so-called good review? Is it one in which the patient simply writes, “Oh, this practice was fine; I give it 4 stars.” What I know from reading hundreds of reviews of eye surgery practices and also from my own personal experience with eye surgery is that ophthalmologists make a huge difference in the lives of their patients every day of every week. That should be reflected in a glowing review, like the one below.
Who would object to having a review like that come in? Between July 2015 and July 2016, The Institute of West Florida went from a total of about four Google reviews and an average rating of 3.5 stars to 64 Google reviews and an average rating of 4.5 stars. (And the practice’s reviews have gone as high as 4.7 stars). Robert Weinstock, MD, and The Eye Institute of West Florida have received 335 feedback responses from patients, and an astounding 93% gave them 4 or 5 stars. The result is that hundreds of patients have looked online, have seen those positive reviews, and have chosen to visit the practice as a result.
For ophthalmologists and practices looking to follow suit, there are steps you can take to improve and protect your online rating.
MAKE IT EASY
Just like you, your patients are busy. The secret to getting a constant, regular stream of 5-star reviews from your patients starts with making it easy for them to give feedback. Send a series of emails to your prior patient list and tell them how much your staff would appreciate hearing their feedback. Give them an easy-to-find link to a user-friendly form. Make sure you market your 4- or 5-star reviews by streaming them to your website and social media profiles and inviting patients to post their comments on all of the top directories that they can access online.
Provide a way for patients to leave reviews via a tablet in your office so that you catch them right when they are at their happiest and most satisfied—and before they have a chance to forget or go negative. Have a specialized mobile app sign-in process in the office that automatically sends patients a reminder text within 3 to 5 hours of their visit, thanking them and asking, “Would you recommend us?”
Part of the secret to getting patients to leave good reviews is to build and nurture a 5-star reputation culture in your practice so that the burden of delivering superior service does not fall solely on your shoulders. It should become a part of the team culture that is being reinforced around the clock because your staff members have been trained to create a 5-star reputation and know they are being reviewed every day by the patients coming through your practice.
MANAGE THE NEGATIVE, PROMOTE THE POSITIVE
Even the best practices will receive an occasional bad review. Managing the negative and promoting the positive is a multistep process, as outlined below.
- Step 1: Welcome all feedback. Make it easy for patients to give you feedback, and use that feedback for training and for continuous improvement of your 5-star reputation culture.
- Step 2: Filter the noise. Use a filtering algorithm on your own internal platform that lets you see reviews of 3 stars or less first, so that, in most cases, they will never be broadcast across the Internet.
- Step 3: Stay informed. Put in place 24/7 monitoring. Make sure you receive daily alerts of all the reviews you receive, good or bad.
- Step 4: Go high. Respond to negative reviews using best practices, which means addressing the community online while dealing with the specific complaint directly offline.
Building, monitoring, and managing your practice’s reputation is a 360° process. You can do it all yourself or have it done for you, but it is a process that is essential for market leaders with today’s discerning online consumers. This essential process can create a series of virtual circles for your practice that can build your visibility, accelerate patient growth, invigorate your staff with better teamwork, and increase your practice’s value. It is definitely well worth it.