7 Steps to Improve Your Online Reputation

Jul. 28, 2022

What does your brand look like online?

Leg_Blog_Ratings

By Brandon Bildings
Digital Marketing Manager

If you haven’t recently Googled your organization, or checked out what people are saying about your providers, take a couple of minutes to do so right now.

Surprised by the low number of reviews? Or worse, the low ratings? (Sorry, five-star reviews from your mother-in-law or employees don’t count.)

Technology has made everyone’s lives easier in a lot of ways, including allowing consumers to tell you – and everyone else – exactly what they think about your organization. And sometimes those words aren’t exactly what we had hoped for.

Online reputations need tending – and if yours isn’t where you hoped it would be, keep reading: First impressions are difficult to change, but not impossibly so.

What is Online Reputation Management?

Simply put, online reputation management (ORM) is the process of shaping consumers’ impression of your organization by

  • gathering insights
  • developing strategies
  • implementing steps

All of which leads to one thing: Helping your organization grow.

Today, when you hear someone talking about reputation management, they’re talking about ORM, which is also referred to by a variety of other, though less common, terms such as

  • Internet reputation management
  • Impression management
  • Reputation management
  • Brand perception
  • Brand reputation management
  • Brand reputation
  • Digital reputation management

But whatever you call it, the goal is the same: To form a positive perception about your organization through actions via customer experience, online marketing, social media, search engine results, online ratings and reviews, and customer satisfaction.

Why Your Organization’s Online Reputation Matters

If your organization hasn’t been paying as much attention to its online reputation as it should, there are some significant reasons why you might want to rethink the amount of time your team has been investing in ORM:

  • First, online reviews help prospective patients – or employees – understand what they can expect from your organization;
  • Next, a positive ORM aids them in determining which providers would be a good fit for their – or their family’s – needs;
  • In addition (and this is a big one), a good ORM can also help curb patient anxiety because it conveys that your providers – and your organization – can be trusted with every person’s most valuable possession: their health
  • Finally, consistent and positive reviews show prospective patients that current consumers are satisfied with the care your healthcare system provides

What does all of this mean? That when it’s handled well, ORM builds confidence in your organization and positively impacts patients’ decisions.

If You’re Not Convinced, Let the Numbers Speak

  • 81% of patients evaluate reviews before choosing a healthcare provider1
  • 87% reverse a decision if there are reputation issues2
  • 60% of customers say that negative reviews made them not want to use a business2

Next Steps: How to Manage Your Reputation

If your organization thought just having an online presence – via a website or a Facebook page – was enough, it’s definitely time to think again. While those entities are critical yet basic tools for your reputation, there are a variety of essential platforms that are the key pieces to building your digital image:

  • Social media
  • Online forums
  • Traditional media sites
  • Blogs
  • Review sites
  • Wikipedia

This is where people go to find information and make decisions – your organization needs to take the steps to manage your brand’s reputation on these platforms.

Seem overwhelming? Think about breaking your ORM into critical chunks:

  • Understanding your current ORM strategies
  • Monitoring your social media
  • Engaging in the online community

That looks a little more manageable, doesn’t it? But we can break down those into several actionable steps:

Step 1: Assess

The first step to improving your healthcare system’s online reputation is to understand that your reputation is evolving in many places, and you need to 1) be familiar with and understand those locations and 2) take a hard look at what people are saying.

Because the majority of consumers use Google, Yelp or Facebook as their first stops when looking at what other people say about businesses, those – as well as specialized industry sites such as Healthgrades – are the best place to start assessing your online reputation.

If you haven’t already claimed your business on any of these platforms, let’s start with that; we’ll use Google as an example, although they all are fairly similar in how they work. Simply type Google Business Profile, also known as Google My Business (GMB), into Google, and you’ll find the link to get you started on this free listing. You’ll also find tips about best practices, managing your account and ownership of your profile.

After you’ve set up a profile for your main organization (including making your location searchable via Google Maps and including photos that represent your business), make sure that you have a profile for all of your locations – and all of your providers (you can find details for this under the heading “Guidelines for Chains, Departments and Individual Practitioners”).

If you’ve already claimed your organization on each of these platforms, first make sure that your locations, contact information and hours are all current. Then, take a look at what people are saying.

The key thing: Respond to your reviews quickly (i.e., within days). For the positive ones, thank your customers; for the negative ones, acknowledge the issue and apologize without sounding defensive – and request to move the conversation offline, either to email or phone.

And don’t forget to apply the same tactics to social media - although it has a short shelf life, it still matters and repetitive instances of negative comments about your organization can create a damaging image (especially if your team doesn’t respond, which makes it seem as if your organization doesn’t care).

One more thing to check: Are there locations or providers with more negative reviews than others? Or are there sites where your organization does better than others? These are places where a solid ORM plan can help you the most: It’s time to start thinking long-term strategies.

Step 2: Execute

Wait a minute - who’s going to do all of this responding to reviews? That’s right: You need a plan.

First of all, you need to identify a team to manage your online reputation, and an essential part of that is simply monitoring and responding to online reviews. On top of that, you want to have a clear and consistent plan in place for responding to those reviews – making sure that no review goes unnoticed.

Your ORM team wants to focus on what you can control: your website, your blog, your social media pages. Creating positive content is a must and that’s doable when your organization actively responds professionally to all reviews.

Step 3: Monitor

Too many organizations don’t pay enough attention to this step, but it’s an indispensable one: Keep a careful eye on what’s being said online about your healthcare system. Although I mentioned creating an ORM team above as part of implementing an overall strategy, it’s essential to earmark people who are responsible for monitoring your online reputation.

Think of it this way: If no one is specifically tasked with the responsibility, the act of actually monitoring your reputation becomes one of those things that too easily slips through the cracks. (Hint: Setting up Google Alerts is an effective – and easy – way to start monitoring your online reputation.)

Step 4: Ask

Ask satisfied patients to leave an online review; keep in mind, that’s a lot different than just asking for reviews or slapping a QR code on every piece of collateral, along with a cheery “Leave us a review!” If that’s your top ORM tactic, you’re just asking for trouble.

Here’s the thing: You can be pretty sure a happy patient will leave a positive review – and possibly sing your organization’s praises – whereas seeking a review from anyone who is willing to leave one might lead to negative reviews causing more work for your ORM team in the long run.

There are a couple of vital practices that should be part of your ORM strategy when asking for reviews:

  • Training: After a patient has conveyed their satisfaction with your organization’s service, make sure all of your staff at every location know how to ask for positive reviews – including explaining to your patients why positive reviews are important and how they can help your organization (Now is the time for an instructional handout with a QR code!)
  • Timing: Whether it’s in person, an automated email or a thank you postcard, ask patients right away, when they’re likely still feeling really good about their experience
  • Thanking: Thank yous improve all relationships – people feel appreciated and better about themselves when they’re thanked, even for a small service such as leaving an online review

TIP: Once you have all of these positive online reviews, ask your web developer to add a widget for Facebook, Healthgrades or another application to your website so that you can direct prospective patients to your site so they can see for themselves the great things satisfied patients are saying about your healthcare system.

Step 5: Own

Because search engines are the most common way people search for services they want, SEO marketing focuses on this simple rule: Own page one of the search engine results so that consumers can see that your business is the best choice for them. Keyword research tools can help you figure out an SEO plan.

Blogging regularly is another SEO tactic that boosts your search rankings – on top of showing your organization’s expertise, which can help build a loyal online following.

Keeping an eye on Google Search Console is another useful SEO tool that helps you manage your search ranking on Google – this free service can help you understand and improve how Google sees your site.

Step 6: Cultivate

Public relations has always been a reputation management practice, and it’s still an essential one in the digital age. Earned media – what’s written about your organization that you haven’t paid for or written yourself – is an important part of your online reputation, and a strong PR strategy goes a long way toward keeping that reputation in good shape.

Avoid overpromising, and be authentic, which means delivering on the values your brand embraces; if you’re not doing that, the online world is the ideal place for dissatisfied patients to vent. Just as you do for reviews about your organization, you want your ORM team to actively monitor earned media mentions so that you know what people are saying about your business – and, if necessary, to anticipate and quickly respond to any PR concerns that pop up

Step 7: Listen

Make improvements based on what your patients are saying: Remember that ORM isn’t about hiding your organization’s shortcomings or misleading your customers: It’s about responding to their concerns.

Task your ORM team with finding out what made a patient unhappy about the service they received and start to document these situations – that can go a long way toward telling you if there’s a problem with a specific location or provider, or if there’s something bigger lurking within your organization.

Your response to any brewing situations might be as simple as additional training for staff members – but always make sure someone from your team is reaching out to the dissatisfied patient. This is a great way to collect actionable insight about your organization – and continue to improve, which means only good things for your online reputation.

What’s It All Mean?

You can now see why managing what people see online about your healthcare organization is more than just having a website; by directing, to a certain degree, what people see online, a sound ORM plan can do a lot to ensure – or create – your organization’s positive reputation, all of which means longevity for your healthcare system.

Addressing criticisms, pursuing potential concerns, eliminating damaging statements and offering strategic guidance is ORM.

Keep in mind that it takes a lot of work and consistency to achieve results, and let’s be honest: A lot of organizations lack the expertise and time to regularly monitor – and then polish – their Wikipedia or About Us pages or seek more positive reviews on Facebook, let alone effectively utilize SEO or other technologies.

If this post has caught your attention, but you’re pretty sure your team isn’t able to take on an ORM plan without some help, we’re here to help (it’s what we do!). But don’t put your reputation on the back burner – give Legato’s President Mike Milligan a call today at 920.544.8102 ext.101 and we’ll get your ORM plan rolling.

 

1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2022/01/12/why-does-online-reputation-matter-for-healthcare-practices

2 https://blog.reputationx.com/whats-reputation-management