Dayna: Doctors are asking me “What do I do if someone posts a bad review on Yelp or one of the other search engines?
Naomi: This is a great question about an increasingly important area of marketing known as Online Reputation Management. When it comes to your online reputation, knowledge is power, so it’s important to Google your name and/or your practice name on a monthly basis to find out what is already out there about you.
If there is a negative review somewhere online about your practice, first of all, know that you are not alone. Most highly reputable, beloved local businesses somehow manage to upset at least one customer. Somehow, you just upset the wrong one.
The best protection against negative reviews is having positive reviews from happy patients posted on a variety of websites as a prophylactic measure – as well as to balance out (and hopefully, to drown out) any negative reviews. If you haven’t already begun to do so, the easiest way to get started is to simply ask your happiest and most loyal patients to post a review about the practice online. Once you know which websites come up in a search for your own name (plus your city, state), you’ll know where to tell patients to post their reviews! Three of the most important sites to have positive reviews on are Google Places, Yahoo Local and Yelp.
Several words of caution:
1) Don’t treat online reviews like a one-time task to check off your to-do list. Cultivating a positive online reputation should be an ongoing part of your practice’s marketing efforts. Get everyone on the team involved, and make sure they know what the goal is! My goal would be to shoot for two positive reviews per month until you hit double digits, and then one per month…forever.
2) It’s important not only to have good reviews online, but also to make sure that they are real, compelling and credible! Think of it this way: if you found a restaurant online that had a bunch of five-star ratings, how would that make you feel? What if the restaurant had been open for five years, but all of the ratings were posted in the past two weeks? Might that affect their credibility? So – it’s important to ask REAL patients to post REAL reviews. Please - don’t create profiles for patients and post testimonials they’ve shared with you as online reviews. Don’t have staff or family members (even if they are also patients) post reviews. DO ask happy patients to post a review every time they pay you a compliment. You can even email them the link of where to go to post them!
3) Regarding responding to negative reviews: first, ask yourself if the complaint is clinical in nature. If so, please get legal advice before you consider responding or taking any kind of action. If, like most online reviews, the comment is about an alleged interpersonal or customer service issue, you have a choice whether or not to respond. My general advice is to take the high road whenever possible rather than publicly going on the defensive; the last thing you want is to give the comment any more credence or attention.
Naomi Cooper is President of Minoa Marketing, a dental marketing and social media consultancy based in Los Angeles, CA and serves as Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute. She has over fifteen years of marketing experience – and a ten-year track record of enabling dental practices and dental companies to achieve their marketing goals. Naomi is also a published author, a sought-after speaker and an industry opinion leader. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.