In this day and age businesses are more transparent than ever. Patrons of businesses also have even more tools at their disposal to voice their opinions. Most business owners will tell you that word of mouth is still powerful advertising, never leaving a customer or client dissatisfied upon receipt of goods or services rendered. More and more social media platforms provide voices with a venue to both air their grievances and give high praise to a business for a job well done. There are even websites dedicated to giving consumers a platform to speak out about businesses, both positively and negatively, giving star ratings that inform future patrons or clients.
Reputation management and social media go hand in hand. It doesn’t matter what type of business you run. If you’re a physician, a restaurant, or a department store, your reputation needs protection. For our clients in the medical and dental field, 84% of patients check reviews before choosing their potential doctor. Examining physician ratings, background, and reviews is just another step in the process that patients now embrace as part of the healthcare journey for themselves and their families. Other industries should take note of this as well.
Most reputation management companies try to mystify their processes, slow to give any information about what they do, much less any trade secrets. But we at Proactive SEO Solutions like to educate our clients and potential clients about the importance of good public relations.
Ratings for businesses tend to be positive in nature. For instance, 68% of comments on Healthgrades.com are positive or neutral. Though you shouldn’t take the occasional less than 5-star review lightly, there are ways to handle the adverse review. Responding to negative reviews in a collected, positive, and timely manner can go a long way on the credibility scale. Often times people just want to be heard, and once you start a dialogue with them, it can often mean the world to them.
Here are some things to keep in mind when handling negative reviews against your business:
Stay Calm and Measured
The worst thing you can do is be reactive or stand defensively. We even suggest that you type a response and save it in your drafts folder. Come back to it after an hour, if you have the time. Trim all of the emotion from your response by not firing off a quick and slapdash response email. With a bit of distance, you gain objectivity, even empathy for the patient or client. Other people pay attention, too. You’d be surprised how many people read comment threads, and when they see that you can handle yourself and know how to treat your patients or clients, more business will come to you.
Make Meaningful Connections
The rule you should say to yourself when it comes to social media is, “I’m here to make friends.” Better yet, you’re here to make clients! A good place to start is with making a compassionate connection with people. Listen to feedback and if something has gone wrong, accept full responsibility. Make a genuine apology — it goes a staggeringly long way. Read through the comments section; it’s a great way to get in tune with your patient/client needs.
Err on the Side of Diplomacy
Reviews and responses are displayed publicly, and (as Lindsay Lohan famously Facebook’d) “the internet never forgets!” Personalize your responses. Make sure that you don’t have a stock message for clients who experience adversity with your service or business. Offer to speak offline by giving the reviewer your company email address or your phone number. Promote transparency and build trust in your practice.
No Problems, Only Solutions
Offering a proactive solution to the problem at hand is likely more important than the apology you must gracefully make. Make sure that you follow-up with the patient and let them know that you take their issues seriously and that you’ve implemented the changes that will ensure this does not happen again. Then make sure you thank the reviewer, reminding them that their observation will make your business a better place.
If you have any questions about how to make sure that you have an ironclad reputation online and IRL, contact Proactive SEO Solutions today. We’ll go over all of the ways our suite of services can help put your business in the fast lane of success.