Welcome back to ASC Marketing 101 by SCA Health. This series focuses on aspects of marketing that you or your center can enact to improve public perception and patient satisfaction.
Providing high-quality care is at the root of what you do. While seeing thousands of patients yearly, not every interaction will be positive. Maybe a mistake upset someone, schedule conflicts led to a miscommunication, or a patient is having a tough day. Whatever the cause, they may be led to leave a review of your center online.
Patient reviews, both positive and negative, play an essential role in reputation management for an ambulatory surgery center (ASC). Understandably, positive reviews bring with them a more favorable external reputation. More important, however, is how an ASC responds to negative reviews that can make or break a reputation.
The Importance of Reviews
So why should your ASC be encouraging patients to leave reviews? In short, the power of a positive review can push potential new patients toward contacting your location and scheduling an appointment. According to a 2021 report by PowerReviews, “99% of customers read reviews when they shop online.”
Put into further context, imagine shopping for a new set of pots and pans for your home. You identify a set online for a reasonable price. Would you then look to reviews to understand past purchaser’s experiences? Of course! Further digging into the reviews may show that the set doesn’t hold up under high heat despite its encouraging price point. This process mimics a patient searching for a location to receive care.
Rather than searching for cost points, a patient may look to see other patients’ experiences with center staff and physicians, how convenient the location is to find, parking, and more. As mentioned above, not every review will be positive, but a solid positive-to-negative ratio will place a good light on your ASC.
Encouraging Positive Reviews
For ASCs, it is critical to encourage patients to leave reviews following a positive experience. Typical forms of encouragement include small notes at the desk and verbal communication.
Some ASCs include a QR code for easy tracking to a Google My Business page, Yelp, or a similar review-based website. Minor additions, like QR codes, increase convenience for patients, thus increasing the odds of them leaving a positive review.
Another route includes subtle reminders throughout a visit. Physicians may choose to encourage reviews as they leave a meeting with a patient, and staff at a reception desk can echo the sentiment. It is important not to force reviews. There is a fine line between encouragement and intimidation.
Pushing too hard may make a patient uncomfortable and choose not to leave a review at all, or worse, swing to leaving a negative review.
Responding to Negative Reviews
In today’s digital age, negative reviews are simply a part of operating any business. Not all patients will leave happy or satisfied despite your staff delivering the best care possible. Suppose a patient chooses to leave a negative review. In that case, your choice of tone and word selection can be the difference in turning the situation around and having that patient return in the future to give your ASC another chance.
Google For Small Businesses outlines six critical pieces for responding to negative reviews.
- Respond in a timely manner
- Stay professional and courteous
- Understand your customer’s (patient’s) experience
- Apologize when appropriate
- Offer to talk it over
- Show you are authentic and genuine
Respond in a Timely Manner
Don’t let negative reviews sit for months before responding. Quickly responding shows that the patient’s experience is valuable to your ASC. Speed is vital in replying to these reviews. A quick, thoughtful response can show the patient who left the review and others that you take their concerns seriously and want to improve your overall experience.
Stay Professional and Courteous
Do not take an aggressive tone when responding to negative reviews. Attacking a patient in your response will only worsen the situation and discourage future patients from visiting with you and your staff. While challenging at times, take a step back and think about the situation from the patient’s perspective. Fighting fire with fire will end up doing more harm than good.
Understand Your Patient’s Experience
Step back from the situation and think about your patient’s experience during their visit. What may have caused them to think of you in a negative light? Working to understand why they chose to leave a negative review will allow you to remain empathetic and offer a worthy solution.
Apologize when Appropriate
A genuine apology goes a long way with most patients. However, do not apologize for aspects of their experience that are out of your control. Heavy traffic, for example, is not a variable you can adjust. Again, empathy is vital; mistakes made under your watch warrant an apology. Just remain cautious about what you choose to apologize for in the patient’s experience.
Offer to Talk It Over
In your response, offer to speak directly with the patient about their experience. This direct response to their concerns shows them and others how much you value their visit and patronage.
Show You’re Authentic and Genuine
The above combine to make a thoughtful, complete response to a negative review. Respond in a reasonable time-frame, avoiding sarcasm and disinterest. Understand where the patient is coming from and offer to discuss any concerns with them privately and directly, apologizing for issues with their visit that were under your control.
EXTRA: A Call to Action
Wrap up each response with a call to action or encouragement for the patient to visit again. This can include phrases such as “We hope to see you soon” or “Please give us a call.” Use these final statements to leave the patient with a positive feeling or the sentiment that contacting your center again can solve their complaint(s).
Want to learn more? Check out previous entries in this series:
Google For Small Business: https://smallbusiness.withgoogle.com/free-google-training/how-to-respond-to-google-reviews/#!/