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  • The 3 Most Common Online Negative Reviews and How to Avoid Them

    Complaining patients are THE BEST patients. 

    Patients who complain to you in person or over the phone are giving you the opportunity to fix the problem, retain them as patients and in fact, often turn into loyal patients. However, if patients have complaints and do not have a way to provide feedback to your practice, they are going to write negative reviews online.  Now those complaints are being seen by hundreds or thousands of potential patients.

    More than 80 percent of patients use online reviews to help make their ophthalmology practice decisions. How does your reputation look online if you do a Google search? Sixty-eight percent of all searches on the internet are done using Google, making a Google review on your Google My Business listing the most powerful and influential review for an ophthalmology practice.

    Old-fashioned word-of-mouth continues to be an effective form of marketing, but now patients are trusting online reviews as much or more than personal recommendations from friends and family. If multiple negative reviews are prevalent during that initial search, a patient might choose to see another practice.

    While more positive reviews will result in more new patients, the real value is in actionable patient feedback. Actionable patient feedback provides you with information from your patients that can help you make positive changes to patient communication, operations, office policies and protocols to enhance the patient experience. Ultimately, increasing long-term new patient growth, retaining existing patients and lowering costs.

    I recently sat down with Ryan Schumacher from the Promoter Strategy to help determine the top three patient complaints in ophthalmology practices. The Promoter Strategy helps practices get online reviews and actionable patient feedback. After gathering and analyzing more than 15,000 ophthalmology patient reviews online, the top three patient complaints are:

    1. Wait time
    2. Customer service; either process-related or personal skills
    3. Patient felt they did not receive a thorough examination

    Focusing your attention to these top three patient complaints can help you avoid negative reviews and deliver a superior patient experience. Take ownership of your online reputation and spend time assessing the flow and efficiency of patients and providing customer service training on a consistent basis. Make sure the technician asks the patients if they have any questions prior to seeing the doctor, and the doctor should ask the patients if they have any questions at the end of the exam. Consider asking happy patients to “help other patients just like them” by posting a positive review online. Guide patients to place reviews on your Google site first or another review site that needs additional positive reviews.  

    It’s easy to feel powerless for the reputation that is building on the internet, but you have more power than you realize. Keep it simple by focusing on the most impactful online sites. Make sure your own website is updated, focus on SEO so your website shows up at the top of the first page when doing a search, and take ownership of the patient review websites. If you concentrate on these initiatives, you’ll be way ahead of your competition.