There was a time in the not too distant past that a business' reputation was made or ruined by word-of-mouth peer reviews or a call to the Better Business Bureau. Since the advent of the Internet, that process has been accelerated and word of mouth now travels at the speed of electrons and is easily searchable and visible. A check of a business on the BBB websites now takes a matter of minutes, no phone calls or letters required and very little time commitment. Consumers are turning to online review sites and forums more than ever before to get information on a business, product, or service they're considering. And they listen to what their peers have to say.
Search Engine Land's Local Consumer Review Survey 2012 shows that 72% of those surveyed trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from someone they know personally and 52% say that a positive review makes them much more likely to buy. Other findings from the survey show that 49% use online reviews to make a purchase decision at least occasionally and 27% do so regularly. And the number of reviews read before making a decision is steadily declining with 27% relying on 2-10 reviews, a reflection of increasing trust.
Another factor in the increasing impact of online reviews from all sources is the fact that as such sites become more popular with consumers, the search engines take notice and increase the ranking in their search results accordingly.
So businesses that want to be successful, which is all of them, can't ignore the impact of online opinions and need to engage in some type of active review monitoring and reputation management strategy. This is especially true for doctors and others offering healthcare services who rely on review sites to provide an accurate depiction of their practice or service. After all, consumers consider health care quality and costs to be one of the most important of life decisions and take extra care in deciding who is going to provide those services and products. A reputation can be ruined quickly with only a handful of negative doctor reviews but positive doctor reviews can significantly increase business.
Online reputation management takes a considerable amount of time; of which, most doctors don't have available to dedicate. Instead of using your valuable time worrying about what is being said about your practice or professional name online, there are resources specializing in being proactive to help minimize the effect one bad doctor review can have. Consider delegating to a reputable and experienced service that specializes in medical review management and provides a venue for customers to leave feedback and doctor reviews.
Review sites have a dramatic impact on your practices' web traffic and ultimately your number of appointments and procedures. There are many channels (Yelp, Google) and doctor review sites (Healthgrades, Vitals.com and MD.com) for both satisfied and unsatisfied patients to share their experiences. Don't let one bad review impact your practice; actively monitor what your patients are saying online and take a proactive approach to turning lemons into lemonade.