If you’ve read our content before, you know that paying attention to your online reviews is important. You may already know that online reviews and customer testimonials influence almost 90% of purchasing decisions.
You may have even made the commitment to monitor and manage your online reputation to ensure you are an active participant in the conversations people are having about your brand.
But how do you know if your voice of the customer campaign is successful? What goals should you be setting for your practice? How do you know if you are getting the maximum ROI?
How do you know if you are winning?
It’s important to set the right expectations for a reputation management program and to set your sights on the right target. Business and development coach Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
Here’s how to benchmark your online reviews to make sure you are seeing the results you need to drive your practice forward.
Benchmarking Results for Physicians and Practices
The healthcare industry has been revolutionized over the last few years by the introduction of online patient reviews, with patients trusting online reviews as much as a doctor recommendation.
In fact, almost 35% of consumers say a doctor’s ratings online are very important, higher than any other industry professional. This means paying attention to online reviews isn’t optional for healthcare providers or practice managers if they want to stay competitive in their local market.
So how can you tell if you are doing a decent job, even if you haven’t started a reputation management program at your practice?
Just start by Googling your practice and see what people are already saying about your facility and your caregivers. That will give you a good indication of where you currently stand, without putting in any effort.
You will also want to look at your competitors and see what people are saying about them. Pay particular attention to:
- What are they saying about the front office staff?
- What are they saying about wait times?
- What are they saying about the level of care they receive?
- What are they saying about caregivers?
- What are they saying about the affordability of care?
- What are they saying about the ability to schedule appointments?
According to the Society for Participatory Medicine, these are some of the most common things that matter most to the patient, particularly their one-on-one interactions with their physician.
Chances are, if you are behind your competition in one or more of these areas you are probably graded lower than your local competition.
But how do you figure out how off the mark you are? You need to understand both what customers expect and have a road map on how to get there.
Here’s an example roadmap for benchmarking your reputation management program:
- Identify what “above average means”
- Clearly define what success looks like
- Set realistic expectations
- Implement and iterate
What is the Average Rating for Physician Practices?
To know what you should be aiming for, you need to benchmark your expectations for online physician reviews.
According to a study done by The National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2010, an average rating for a physician website was 77 out of 100 for listings using a 100-point scale and a 3.84 for sites using a 5-point scale.
A more recent study done by Yiwei Chen with Standford University found that an average physician rating was around 3.62 on a popular listings website using a 5-point scale. This is well above the national average for many other industries. This particular listing website tends to have lower ratings overall than other sites like Google and HealthGrades.
What Average Rating Should You Go For?
The rating you will want to obtain will obviously vary from site to site, but most studies have shown most patients want to see at least a 4-star rating on Google, one of the most common ways patients find doctors.
Ultimately, you want to shoot for the highest rating possible, but identifying what customer expectations are is extremely important. It doesn’t matter if you have an internal goal of 3.5 stars if consumers expect higher. You can start at a lower level to slowly build traction, but your ultimate goal should be to meet expectations for attracting new patients.
How Should you Measure Success?
You will also want to make sure you are setting goals that make sense for your organizational priorities. Are you trying to leverage online reviews to increase in SEO [CR6] or increase your star rating to improve patient satisfaction and loyalty?
All of these things can be tracked, and a good reputation management program will succeed at both, but zeroing in on what matters most to your business first will help you better define your KPIs.
Here are some of the major KPIs we recommend looking at when evaluating a reputation management program:
- Average ratings across multiple platforms
- Number of reviews
- Recency of online reviews
- Trends in key areas of focus (opinions on wait times, staff and bedside manner among others)
- Patient engagement
This helps you get a clear picture of how a program is doing.
Once you figure out what you want your goals to be, it really comes down to identifying your current baseline and measuring against it during the life of the program both internally and externally. This means looking at all of your online reviews as well as at internal reporting metrics like patient satisfaction surveys to better understand your customer’s experience.
Binary Fountain has many free case studies to help you understand and project the potential impact of a reputation management program for healthcare providers.
You will also want to measure your success against your competition. Are you starting to get more positive attention online? Are your reviews more recent? All of these are good indicators you are doing a better job at managing your online image.
Benchmarking Also Means Setting Realistic Expectations
If this is the first time you are exploring a reputation management program, you may have a hard time knowing what kind of results to expect from your efforts.
Some questions to ask before starting a program may include:
- Do you have the tools your organization needs to be able to execute a reputation management campaign?
- Once you begin collecting data, do you have the right personnel in place to measure success?
- Do you need a third-party solution?
- Do you have the data infrastructure you need in place?
- Do you have the ability to automate the process to remove the human element from measuring reviews?
- Do you have buy-in from executives who have the influence needed to make organizational change happen?
How you answer these questions will greatly impact what kind of goals you should set for your organization, especially the last one. If you don’t have the proper buy in from the leaders in your hospital or practice, you will have a hard time making the sweeping changes needed to improve your reviews.
Many times, practice managers or marketers will be given instruction to improve a facility’s online presence, which usually includes reviews. While this goal is ambiguous, it generally revolves around what people are saying about you online and the only way to fix that is to improve the areas that patients have issues with.
By listening to patient feedback (both from online reviews and internal methods of gathering data) you should be able to better understand what areas your organization needs to improve on in order to better meet consumer expectations.
These can either be really easy things or extremely complicated problems that could take months to fix. In order to gain as much traction as possible, we recommend focusing on things that patients care about most.
This will help you better understand where to focus your efforts and show stakeholders the most ROI. Once you’ve implemented a program, you are ready to start the hard work of making improvements.
Launching a Successful Reputation Management Program
Once you have gone through the process of setting the right expectations, you are ready to launch your reputation management program.
Here are the four steps you need to follow:
- Gather customer feedback
- Create your response plan
- Implement changes
- Measure results and report back to stakeholders
Gather Customer Feedback
Any good reputation management program focuses on giving the patient a voice. This means actively monitoring online reviews and asking current patients for feedback. The more opinions you get, the clearer the picture you have.
Look for commonalities in feedback to find the most critical pain points in the patient experience.
Create Your Response Plan
You will need to set up a response plan for reviews, because it isn’t enough to just monitor reviews. You need to be an active participant in conversations about your brand.
Consider the following:
- Who will be responding to reviews?
- How should we handle negative reviews?
- Who is empowered to speak on behalf of the company?
- Who can field potential issues or questions?
- Who needs to be aware of very negative comments?
- Who will be held accountable for providing patient feedback to the organization?
You can’t have a successful program without carefully considering these questions and having an action plan when things get dicey.
Once you have collected patient feedback, it’s time to take action. This means making the necessary changes to your process, staff or other areas to meet customer expectations.
There is no “easy” way to do this. The entire organization has to shift their mentality to a customer-centric way of thinking, so be patient. It may take a long time, but soon your reviews will be glowing, and your patient acquisition will be humming along.
Measure Results and Report Them
If you’re heavily investing in a reputation management program, you know you need to show the value to your organization. This means you need to proactively measure results and share them with internal stakeholders. As your average review scores improve and the volume of your reviews also increase, you will know you are moving in the right direction.
Armed with this data, you will have no problem showing the value of a reputation management program.
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist