When it comes to your online reputation, perception is reality. In this article, we’re going to look at how chiropractors can acquire and maintain a 5-star online reputation, bearing in mind that they must also comply with HIPAA in any aspect of their marketing, including reputation management.
Managing your online reputation is enormously important for your practice and your marketing efforts, for your existing patients and for potential patients. A good online reputation inspires trust, builds authority, makes marketing easier, and can genuinely add to your bottom line.
Ratings and reviews are an important part of your online reputation, with real consequences for businesses with a lower rating. Harvard Business Review found that 68% of customers say that positive reviews will make them trust a business more and that only 13% of customers will still use a business that has a rating of 2 stars or less.
But your online reputation isn’t just about reviews. It’s about everything you do both online and offline to create a great experience for your patients.
Read on for our reputation management tips for chiropractors.
How to Grow Your Reputation (and Remain HIPAA Compliant)
Chiropractors must remain HIPAA compliant when marketing and managing their online reputation or there can be serious consequences, including legal action, regulatory compliance action, fines, bad publicity, and more. However, it is possible to manage and continuously improve your online reputation, without losing HIPAA compliance.
Here are our 7 reputation management tips for chiropractors:
1) Get Regular Reviews and Ratings
Before beginning any process for collecting regular reviews, you will need to be very careful about revealing any protected health information (PHI) when responding to reviews. Patients can reveal information themselves if they choose to, but you can’t respond to that, add to it, or even confirm that the reviewer is a patient of your practice.
It’s also important to remember that most states have laws against emailing a patient unless you have their consent. While it might be tempting to email a favorite patient to ask for a review or to thank them for one they’ve written, it is a HIPAA violation. It is much better to speak to them on the telephone or in person.
While these restrictions do affect how you handle asking for feedback and responding to them, you can still have a successful review strategy that increases your reputation.
The first step is simply to ask your patients if they will leave a review for you. You can call them as a follow-up to see how they’re doing after their first visit and then ask if they wouldn’t mind writing a review. You can ask in person, place leaflets in reception and in the treatment rooms to request a review, provide a feedback form that also asks for a review, and more.
Think about how you communicate and interact with your patients, what the touchpoints are, and where and how you could ask for reviews.
Three further points to consider about ratings and reviews are:
- Acquiring reviews must be something you do regularly. You need at least 1 to 4 new reviews each month to stay relevant. Around 48% of people will only consider reviews that are less than two weeks old.
- Where your patients post reviews matters. Ideally, you need reviews on sites with high domain authority, such as Google, Yelp, Bing, and Facebook.
- Your star ratings matter and are the number one factor used by potential customers to judge a business. On average, with a 1-star increase in rating, businesses can expect a revenue increase of between 5 and 9%.
2) Monitor and Respond to Reviews (Positive and Negative)
Businesses that respond to reviews see, on average, a ¼ – ½ star increase in their average rating. As we said above, with a 1-star increase, you could increase your revenue between 5 and 9%, so every increase in your star rating can make a difference.
People like to see businesses responding to reviews. They feel listened to and engaged.
However, with HIPAA to consider, here again, you do have to be careful.
It is wonderful to receive positive reviews. It’s great for your reputation and for morale but take a pause and think before you reply. It’s really tempting to get carried away and be over-friendly and familiar with the patient online, but you can’t reveal any information about them or confirm that they are your patient, so take care here.
You should, however, acknowledge every positive review and thank them for taking the time to review.
One more thing to bear in mind here is that, while using positive reviews in your marketing can have great results, you must have written, explicit consent from your patient to use them. You aren’t allowed to post stories, reviews, photos, or any other patient information without permission.
It’s important to be really careful when responding to negative reviews for two reasons:
1) Your Reputation
How you respond to negative reviews can affect your reputation both positively and negatively. If you don’t respond well, you can make the situation worse with the patient and create a poor impression for anyone reading your response.
2) HIPAA Compliance
Again, don’t confirm that the reviewer is your patient or give out any personal health information in your reply to stay HIPAA compliant.
How to Handle a Negative Review:
If you manage a negative review correctly, it is possible to bring the reviewer around so that they amend or retract their review. You need to manage angry customers well online and show that you care.
As with any review, the first thing to do is to thank them for leaving their comments. Acknowledge what they’ve said and make them feel heard, without adding any personal health information in your reply or confirming that they are your patient.
Tell them that you are happy to discuss their comments further offline and provide a way for them to contact you.
Never argue online. Take the time to think and calm down before you reply and don’t react badly, even if the review is unfair. Doing so can adversely affect the impression people have of you.
Templates can be helpful here for both negative and positive reviews to speed up your replies, give you a form of checklist to ensure that you’re HIPAA compliant, and help you with what to say. However, don’t simply copy and paste these without tailoring them and changing them at least a little, or it will look like you’re using canned responses, which will not help your reputation.
With Surefire’s all-in-one marketing platform, you can send requests, automate follow-up reminders, and respond to your local business reviews all from one place, which can make the process easier and save you time.
3) Brand Sentiment Analysis and Online Presence Monitoring
A brand sentiment analysis is simply a way of seeing how people feel generally about your brand and your practice. Monitor your online presence and any comments made both to you and about you to keep track of what people are saying. This way, you can find any reviews and respond to them, discover what people really think about your practice, and get ideas about how to make improvements.
You can use social media monitoring tools, such as Mention or Mediatoolkit to ‘listen in’ on what your patients and potential patients are saying about you.
This is important as you need to know what comments are out there about your business so that you can monitor how your marketing is going down online, learn from suggestions and gain new ideas, but also manage any negative feedback and take care of your online reputation.
4) Content Marketing
Content marketing is an excellent way to build and improve your reputation online. Content marketing establishes trust, creates a bond with your audience, and can build a relationship over time. You can take a complete stranger from knowing nothing about your business and bring them through the know, like, and trust stages to ultimately make that decision to use your services with the right content at the right moment.
You can establish your expertise and build your authority with helpful, highly knowledgeable, and top-quality blog posts, how-to articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, and more. Potential patients will think more of you if they can see how much you know about chiropractics and how much you can help them.
With excellent and interesting content, you can engage your patients, encourage comments and boost engagement.
Great content will also raise your rankings and get you found in the search engines, which can bring in new leads and move leads through your sales funnel.
5) Build Patient Relationships
Literally, everything you do from the moment a patient finds you online to the moment they have their final session with you can make or break your relationship.
Your online presence needs to be exemplary, create the right impression at every stage, and foster engagement. We’ve covered content marketing above, but this also applies to handling reviews, social media marketing, your website, and every other aspect of your online presence.
Moving offline, how your customers feel about you and what they say begins the second they walk in the door of your practice for the very first time. It matters what your practice looks like, how comfortable it is and how comfortable patients feel, and it matters how they are treated from start to finish, by everyone from the receptionist to their chiropractor.
Your follow-ups can make a difference too, by showing that you do care even after your patients have finished treatment. While you do want to ask for reviews, you also must create the impression that that’s not all you’re contacting them for. Ask how they are, ask if there’s anything else you can do for them, and if they have any questions.
If patients feel like you really care and that they matter to you, they will provide not only great reviews and an increase to your reputation, but word of mouth marketing too.
6) Continuous Improvement
If you keep track of your online presence and carefully cultivate your reputation, you’re going to get constructive feedback as well as confirmation that you have a good practice. This is a really helpful thing as you will hear suggestions from patients on things you can improve and things they’d like to see. Even the less complimentary suggestions can be helpful as you can find gaps in your customer service and improve your service delivery.
It’s always good to keep looking for ways to improve and to have a policy of continuous improvement, where you listen to both staff and patients.
It’s also important to look over your reputation management process regularly and see where you can make improvements to that.
Reputation management is never done. There’s never a point where you can relax and think you’ve ticked it off your list forever, but the opportunities that reputation management affords can be highly beneficial to your practice.
It may seem like there’s a lot involved in managing your online reputation, and we can’t deny that there is. But Surefire can help. Our all-in-one marketing platform can manage your reviews for you, including review requests and automatic reminders. You can also see and reply to your reviews right from our dashboard, so you don’t have to go to individual sites and log in to reply. Surefire integrates with all of the major review sites, allowing you to manage everything without even leaving our software. Why not book to attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform Demo and find out how Surefire’s local marketing software can make a difference to your practice?