Prospective new patients want to have confidence in a healthcare practice, so they know what to expect. In today’s world, a business needs to be aware of the importance of the digital ‘word of mouth’ when building and maintaining their reputation.
This is no different for a healthcare practice, who will need to instill trust and confidence, that they provide a better all-round customer experience than their competitors.
In recent years, it has increasingly been online where companies have needed to turn their marketing focus to enhance their reputation and attract more clients.
Building an attractive online profile and maintaining consistently good reviews are necessary for any healthcare practice. Indeed, recent industry feedback shows that 70% of patients refer to reviews before choosing their provider.
Managing Your Website
Customers expect a business to have a website, but they also expect a website to be user-friendly. An uncluttered home page helps welcome online visitors and helps make a good first impression. Important information such as contact details should be simple to find and placed on a dedicated page.
As a healthcare practice, the various treatments you offer should be clearly represented and easy to read. An ill-thought out and badly structured website can quickly put clients off, as they do not want to waste time and effort navigating a poorly designed site. A practice should ensure the following from their website:
- Always up to date
- Easy to navigate
- Uses simple, clear language
Building an Online Profile
Most people will check out a company on the internet before making a decision on which practice to use. Therefore, a dental practice should aim to be proactive when it comes to their online profile. By taking control of the information clients can see, a business can better build and maintain their reputation.
A business will want to have consistent information across the different online platforms that customers visit. If a customer sees contradictory information on subject matters such as opening times, contact details and available treatments, they are more likely to move on — and find a different practice where there is more certainty and reliable information.
In this way, you can optimise your profile and make these sites truly work to your advantage. Even if you do not own the website, someone taking incorrect information will be frustrated and disappointed, and their blame will likely be aimed at your practice as much as the company hosting the site.
You may also want to personalise some of these sites to some degree. By adding photos, you can form an instant connection to your practice. Photos showing an attractive, clean interior — including reception rooms and treatment areas — can immediately reassure patients of the professionalism of the business. Adding specific qualifications and awards also helps differentiate the practice over competitors.
It is a good idea to pay particular attention to your Google business profile. Google is an online heavyweight, one with huge influence. Google consistently returns nearly 90% of the market share for online searches, and their business profile tool provides a key online marketing profile.
By customising and personalising your profile with photos and well-crafted details, you take control of how your practice is represented on the prime online sites. Where you can, ensure you provide a link from online profiles to your practice’s website.
Engage With Social Media
Prospective new clients are just as likely to use social media such as Facebook to help form an opinion about a business. You can create a favourable opinion by engaging with visitors on your social media platforms — and by uploading interesting posts on a regular basis. By inserting links to your website, you can guide people to more in-depth information about your practice and continue to build your online reputation.
Online reviews form an integral part of digital ‘word of mouth’, with studies within the industry indicating 73% of people acknowledge positive reviews of a practice are important in their decisions. Therefore, reviews are not something to fear and can help practices build and maintain their reputations.
Reviews should be encouraged, with patients offered a nonintrusive feedback form to complete in their own time. To encourage participation this can be an automated survey sent by email which on completion is straightforward to implement at the dental practice.
Reviews act as a marketing tool with the potential to build trust with existing and future clients. A site with a good many reviews will indicate a well-attended practice with a good existing patient base.
People looking through the reviews will be more confident in using such an established business. Consumers generally read around 10 reviews before they start to form an opinion, and these reviews will be the most recent, with one study saying 94% of customers ignore reviews dated 3 months or longer.
Another factor to keep in mind is this — the better your online feedback, the better your Google search results. Maintaining a 4-star review rating is the aim. This will help keep your practice toward the top end of Google search results when people search for ‘best practice’.
What About Negative Reviews?
Industry studies also show 59% of respondents say they only consider a practice with a 4-star rating or higher. Yet this does not mean you should ignore and dread negative reviews. All businesses receive negative reviews at some point; the key is to turn it into a positive.
Always reply to negative feedback in a polite and informative manner. Not only may the original reviewer decide to use your practice once more, but it will also give the right impression to other patients — showing that your practice is professional and committed to solving problems. This in turn suggests a practice committed to providing a good customer experience.
By using all available online tools, you can establish and maintain your digital ‘word of mouth’, driving new clients to your practice while confirming to existing patients they made the right choice all along.