Your reputation as a physical therapist is easily the most important asset you have. Your clinic’s first impression with the majority of your clients will be your online presence. Recent studies found that over 77% of patients research online before making an appointment with a doctor. That means that three-fourths of your patients will read reviews, visit your website, and form an opinion about your practice long before they step foot in your facility.
The Importance of Your Online Reputation
When it comes to your online reputation, perception is reality for potential patients. In other words, it doesn’t matter how good a physical therapist you are if you’re ranked as a 2-star clinic on Google. It’s incredibly difficult to fix a bad first impression–and it’s more likely that you won’t even get a chance to try.
Patients would rather search for and make an appointment with a doctor who has a better reputation. A recent study from the Journal of Medicine found that patients are 95% more likely to choose a 4-star physician over a 2-star physician.
And that makes sense. The last time you went out to dinner somewhere new, did you look it up online first and read the reviews? Did you choose somewhere with at least a three or four-star rating? We’re almost positive that you did because that’s the consumer behavior of over 98% of us. Nobody wants to have a bad experience if they can avoid it, so of course, they choose the place with the best reviews.
Your online reputation also has a major impact on your SEO and Google ranking efforts as well. Positive reviews can boost your efforts and place you higher in search engine results. But negative reviews can have the opposite effect. Remember that Google’s number one goal is always to give searchers the most helpful and accurate results possible.
If you have a low ranking (three stars or lower), the search engine results are going to prioritize doctors with better reviews and rankings for search results like “physical therapist near me” and “best physical therapists in [your city]”.
That’s why it’s vital that you purposefully cultivate and care for your online reputation.
Not sure where to start? We’ve gathered our most effective and helpful reputation management tips for physical therapists in this article. Read on for more information about how to make the best possible first–ad lasting–impression for your clinic.
Reputation Management Tips for Physical Therapists
Take Ownership of Your Online Presence
The first step in successfully managing your online reputation is understanding the state of your current reputation. To do this, you have to keep tabs on your reviews. For most physical therapists, their reviews live on Google, Facebook, and Yelp. However, there are dozens of other sites where people review and rank their experiences with physicians, like:
- WebMD Physician Directory
Once you’ve found all the sites that comprise your online reputation, make sure that all the information listed is correct–your address, phone number, physician names, etc. If the wrong information is listed, Google may determine that it’s incorrect or invalid information and exclude it from your overall online reputation score.
Keep Tabs on Your Reviews
Now that you’ve claimed your online presence and have a good idea of where you stand, you need to ensure that you are continuously monitoring your reviews. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and assign someone in your clinic the responsibility of regularly checking and responding to reviews on your most active sites.
This allows you to directly address any specific patient concerns in a timely manner while also allowing you to identify any recurring themes that may indicate a bigger issue. For instance, if you notice that people are commenting over and over about long wait times, you can use this insight to nip the problem in the bud. Work on your scheduling or intake process to reduce wait times and eliminate the complaints at the source.
You can check your review sites manually, or you can use reputation management software that automatically monitors and alerts you when new reviews are left.
Respond to Reviews–Positive and Negative
It is vital that you respond to every review that is left for your clinic–good or bad. Your response time is almost as important as the response itself because it proves to your patients that you are proactive about responding to their needs.
Responding to Positive Reviews
A lot of physicians make the mistake of responding only to negative reviews. And while you certainly should respond to negative reviews–and quickly!–positive reviews deserve a little love and attention as well.
Make sure to thank the reviewer for their kind words. Let them know how much you appreciate their review and feedback while making certain not to reveal any personal information. This is one of the easiest ways to cultivate better reviews and engage with your patients.
Responding to Negative Reviews
Responding to negative reviews appropriately and in a timely manner is one of the most effective and important reputation management tips for physical therapists. Negative reviews can have a massive impact on your practice and your online reputation overall.
This is especially true if you’re new to having an online presence or have a small number of reviews. Your star rating is based on very simple math. If you have five five-star reviews you have a score of 5/5 or 100%! But if you have four five-star reviews and one 1-star review, that quickly drops to 4/5 or 80%.
The best way to protect against the damage one review can do is to solicit as many reviews as possible–but we’ll cover that a little later in the article below.
When you receive a negative review, it’s important to respond quickly and calmly. No matter what the review says, do not respond in anger. That just starts a flame war and makes your clinic look unprofessional.
Instead, apologize for their experience and ask if they would like to contact the clinic directly to have their complaint addressed. Don’t justify, explain, or argue. Instead, acknowledge their experience and offer to help. A lot of the time, people just want to be heard. Especially after a frustrating or traumatic experience. Hear them out and do what you can to make it better. Often, you can even ask them to delete or amend their review after the problem has been resolved.
How to Grow Your Reputation (and Remain HIPAA Compliant)
As we mentioned above, one of the best ways to protect yourself against the impact of negative reviews is to grow your reputation. However, we know that’s easier said than done.
One of the easiest ways to grow your online reputation while remaining HIPAA-compliant is to ask for reviews. This may seem oversimplified, but it really can be that easy.
There are several ways you can ask your patients for a review. You can place signage at the front desk where people check in and out or add reminders to exercise instruction handouts. But our favorite way to cultivate reviews is through an email drip campaign.
Set up your reputation management platform to automatically send an email when a patient completes a procedure or appointment. Ask them about their experience and invite them to share it. To avoid accidentally soliciting negative reviews, it’s important to set up different tracks for positive and negative responses in your emails.
For instance, ask if they had a good experience and then offer two buttons–”yes” and “no”. The yes button link should lead to Google or Facebook reviews. The no button should have a link to an email where they can send their complaints and be taken care of quickly.
Bad reviews are usually just a response to feeling unheard or neglected. This system helps ensure that you’re improving your patient’s experience and outcomes while also preventing damage to your reputation.
Attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform Demo
The Surefire Local platform allows you to manage your online reputation from A to Z from one convenient dashboard. Run brand sentiment analysis to find out how your patients truly feel about your practice, send requests for reviews, automate follow-up reminders, and respond to reviews–all from one platform! Request a demo today to learn more about how Surefire Local can help your physical therapy practice grow and manage its online reputation. We’re always happy to discuss our favorite reputation management tips for physical therapists.