It is a widely accepted principle in today’s healthcare marketing environment: reputation management requires monitoring reviews and comments about your practice. A simple notion, really: you have to know what patients say about their experience in order to make improvements to your service delivery and to stand out in a competitive marketplace.
Marketers may feel that healthcare operates on a different playing field than online and big box commerce or hospitality sites. Your visitors are much less inclined to consider differences. As a recent McKinsey study observes, consumers expect the same qualities in healthcare companies that they value in non-healthcare settings.
In this environment, responding to reviews is vital to reputation management. The purpose of responding is not to defend your institution, but to demonstrate your commitment to improving patient experience. Nick La Rosa of KureSmart made the point in our recent MGMA webinar on reputation management: In every online interaction, the patient, and the visitor who reads the patient’s review, should receive this message from the provider: “We take everything you say seriously, and we are driven to improve.” Whether positive or negative, the response to every review should translate to “Thank you, your comments are making us better.”
The prominence of third-party review sites can make it feel that providers have no control over their online reputation. In a this reputation-sensitive environment, reputation managers give responding to negative reviews a higher priority. It is only natural: an unfavorable review that goes without response sends the message that you do not care.
But a recent study, described in the Harvard Business Review, reports this: “when managers respond to positive reviews, it has the same benefits as when they respond to negative reviews.”
The reason starts with the commitment described above, to take every review seriously. The patient who posts an unfavorable review is to some extent asking “What are you going to do about this?”
Your consistently responsive stance helps build trust. If a customer or patient has a small complaint, but sees that both large and small concerns are addressed promptly and respectfully, they may choose not to complain.
The HBR study focused on reviews posted at Trip Advisor, so its quantitative conclusions may not translate directly to healthcare. But, there is certainly something to be gained by treating patients as guests, and by responding in terms that a guest would appreciate. As we have reported here and here, Florida Orthopedic Institute has seen measurable improvement in reviews and in patient loyalty by bringing a hospitality-based approach to reputation management.
Do you respond as quickly and thoroughly to favorable reviews as to unfavorable ones? Let us know if you are seeing positive effects in your reputation management program.
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