By JENNIFER THOMPSON
Just when you think you've finally gotten your head around why you need to be on social media, and what you need to be doing on Facebook and Twitter (sharing, educating, interacting with followers, etc.), the rules go and change again.
That's right, social media is evolving yet again; and it's imperative for you to keep up with the times by putting your best foot forward with social customer service.
So, what is social customer service? Consider it like a marriage - the joining together of social media and customer service (without the tax benefits). Not only are your patients able to 'Like' you on Facebook, but now they're encouraged to share everything they may dislike about you as well. Oh, and the offspring of this perfect union?
Your online reputation.
The State of Social Customer Service and Reviews
Worldwide, there are nearly 2 billion active users on Facebook including 1.28 billion who login daily and spend an average of 35 minutes on the social platform. Twitter, although significantly smaller, has 328 million users. The firm SocialBakers suggests that more than 80 percent of customer service requests on social are happening on Twitter.
Whether you like it or not, Facebook encourages patients to make recommendations and post reviews. Just like visiting an online dating site to connect with a potential partner, your patients are actually doing something very similar in peeking around on Healthgrades, Vitals, RateMDs, Yelp and Google before they book their first appointment. Heck, once you've been on your first 'date,' more often than not, patients are discussing how things went to their friends and even rating the experience online, especially on Facebook and Twitter. If you're really unlucky, they'll even tell their distant relatives about the experience (these are the typical online physician review sites you know and love).
You've Got a Following and Reviews. Now What?
Listen and respond. It's important to pay attention to what your patients are saying online. Common, recurring complaints could be symptoms that something is actually in need of improvement at your practice; or, the patient could just be upset and is venting. Either way, in most cases, it's important that you respond because no response is still a response.
Considering 92 percent of all consumers admit to allowing online reviews to shape their purchasing and service decisions, patients are paying attention to your negative reviews and it's impacting your ability to attract new patients.
The Most Common Complaints Aired on Facebook About Medical Practices
- Long wait times
- Front office staff
- Poor follow-up
- Unnecessary tests
- Physician/staff not listening
- Differing of opinion (commonly shows up something like: 'The doctor doesn't know what he's talking about')
Who Should Manage the Online Review Process at Your Office?
Managing your medical practice's social media presence generally falls to the marketing department (or outside consulting agency), but responding to online reviews and managing customer service inquiries should include somebody with an operational role within your practice to review the patient's records and investigate what actually happened with staff and, sometimes, the physician.
The relationship between marketing and customer service has very quickly gone from casual to an official marriage. The process will be different for every practice but it's vital to actually have a process when the reviews come in - and they will. This marriage isn't ending anytime soon.
Jennifer Thompson serves as President at Insight Marketing Group. She founded the medical marketing company in 2006 after an unsuccessful run for political office (which she went on to win in 2010 & 2014). Jennifer has two decades experience in marketing in the areas of technology, retail and medical for small businesses and Fortune 100 companies. For more, email Jennifer at Jennifer@InsightMG.com or visit InsightMG.com.