Whether through social media networks or review sites, public conversations about your practice require your attention.
Have you ever wondered about all the ways patients can publicly comment and distribute their remarks concerning you and your business online? If not, you should. Although the mechanics of handling patient feedback may differ from one site to another, here are some key tips to help turn public remarks on any platform into positive PR.
DOCUMENT, DON’T DELETE
On many sites, it may be possible for patients to edit their original comments, so it’s important that you keep proof of any public patient complaint. This can be as simple as taking a screen shot of the comment should the remarks be contested or edited to make a business look foolish or used out of context.
Although the initial response to having negative comments on your business profile would be to delete the comment
from view, this will only anger the commenter and open your business up to further public scrutiny. Deleting a remark in a public space you have control over also opens the potential for the complaint to move to a space you no longer have access to.
KEEP CALM AND CONSULT
Unfortunately, it is common for unhappy patients to strive for an emotional response to their posts. You must remember this is a public conversation and your business is also being judged on how you respond, not just by the commenter: Readers can view both sides.
It can be difficult to remember that “being right” might not be the best ultimate goal for handling public criticism. Before you react, share the post with trusted colleagues and your business’ leadership for their advice. Insight from someone with less of an emotional investment may offer a solution that both satisfies the patient and presents you in a positive light.
BE MINDFUL OF TIMING
On the Internet, good news travels fast and bad news travels at warp speed. We’re talking hours-or minutes. It’s imperative to respond quickly to any public comments,
particularly during a crisis, but also handle with careful thought.
Rather than responding immediately, take a moment to write out your response, even with paper and pen. Give yourself the opportunity to gain perspective before hitting “Publish.”
SET THE TONE
The whole culture of social media demands that matters be handled in the public space. That doesn’t mean every detail of the conversation should be on display, but it does mean some response be presented that demonstrates a resolution is being sought. A quick reply could be, “Looking forward to helping you! Would you please private message me more?” or “Thank you for reaching out. Please email us details so we can get this fixed for you!”
The tone of your response sets the rules of engagement for your profile. A positive, even playful nature can create an environment where attacks of aggressive negativity will seem unnecessary and uncalled for. If an angered commenter presents overt negativity in this atmosphere, other followers may actually come to your defense.
FOLLOW UP PUBLICLY
Addressing issues and responding quickly to patient complaints is a great start to maintaining a positive online reputation, but what really makes the exceptional businesses stand out is their ability to follow up. If the issue was successfully resolved, a quick, “Thanks so much for letting us know! I hope the issue has been resolved for you!” can publicly legitimize your dedication to maintaining a positive patient experience.
Christopher Hunter is Chief Pixel Pusher for Innereactive Media, a full-service marketing company specializing in the optical industry, in Grand Rapids, MI.