Healthcare and reviews sites… Do you feel a shiver run down your spine at the mention of Yelp? Do you shudder in your scrubs at the mention of HealthGrades or the BBB?
Consumers want to be heard, and they are increasingly turning to (very) public online platforms to share their experiences – good and bad. Add to that sharing their reviews on Facebook and Twitter, and you may not have a good prognosis.
But that doesn’t mean you have to take this problem lying down, read on for constructive and meaningful ways to deal with review sites and negative comments.
Be Proactive – Stay ahead of reviews, get buy-in from executive leadership now on embracing review sites:
- Resources should be allocated for monitoring major review sites no less than weekly (or daily if you are part of a large organization or have been at the center of publicity and are receiving reviews frequently).
- Set up listening campaigns (there are a number of free and low cost services to experiment with, start with Google Alerts for example) to catch blog posts, social media and other sources containing comments about your organization, leadership and staff.
- Invest in working with an expert to draft a response guide for employees to understand how to alert appropriate managers when a problem arises and to provide guidelines for writing responses.
Encourage Reviews – Provide patients with surveys after seeing them, encouraging them to share concerns with you directly and circumventing publishing a review. If you have developed a culture of service and respect, feel good about publicizing that you welcome reviews – encouraging those positive reviews will outweigh any negative interviews.
Understand the Issue – Getting a handle on how consumers perceive your brand online is crucial for 2017; consider these statistics:
- According to WeGo Health, 85% of consumers use Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums to make decisions about their healthcare.
- Software Advice says that 77% of respondents in their recent survey reported that they look at reviews before choosing a new physician, and 47% said they’d go out-of-network for a qualified physician with positive reviews.
- Younger generations are increasingly using online searches and reviews to choose hospitals and doctors – MediaBistro found that 18—24 year olds are more than twice as likely to use social media to ask others about their healthcare experiences, a trend likely to continue.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Categorizing comments makes it easier for your marketing or PR team to determine how to deal with them. Decide if reviews fall into:
- The “good” – always reply, even to good reviews, thanking consumers for taking the time to share the great work of your hospital, practice or team; this encourages more positive reviews and reinforces consumers’ feeling good about your organization and personnel.
- The “bad” – these are legitimate and critical complaints that you know need to be dealt with – get them offline by replying and asking the consumer to call or email you, and a bonus, these reviews may provide valuable insight on improvements you need to make.
- The “ugly” – these folks are trolling; they are inaccurate in their complaints, are upset about something you cannot control or they simply don’t want anything more than to complain – see below for more on dealing with this group).
False Reviews and Erroneous Comments – While most review sites proudly tout that they don’t control what consumers post, it has been my experience that if a reviewer maliciously posts something untrue, or if they were never your customer, the review will be removed as violating terms of service. Try flagging or reporting the review, and if all else fails, contact your legal department or legal counsel.
Show Respect – That negative review might make you understandably frustrated, but all consumer complaints deserve a respectful reply. Keep in mind, even more importantly, that other consumers may give you more credit for a positive, professional reply to a complaint.
Bonus: avoid HIPAA violations – Remember, don’t make matters worse by replying to specific concerns or providing a detailed reply that may violate a patient’s right to privacy. Keep replies short and sweet, inviting reviewers to contact you directly to address concerns.
If you need assistance with developing guidelines and replies for reviews or social media comments we’re here to help. In addition to HIPAA and NLRA consulting when it comes to social media, we also consult on reputation management for healthcare organizations and professionals. Contact us today to learn more.
Jennifer Maggiore is the ceo of red balloon, an award winning social media firm, and is a recognized social media consultant, author and speaker. Since 2005, she and her team have worked with public and private companies in a variety of industries throughout the US, offering highly effective social media management, strategic planning and training services.