The growing emphasis on digital media as a personal and professional power horse has moved the power of online referrals in the forefront. As a global community, we spend more than 6.5 hours online every day – combined, that’s 1.2 billion years spent on the internet in 2019 alone. There’s a huge window of opportunity for us to connect with our audiences.
We Are Social and Hootsuite’s latest collection of Global Digital 2019 reports reveals that internet users are growing by an average of more than one million new users every day.
- 4.39 billion internet users in 2019, an increase of 366 million (9%) in one year
- 3.48 billion social media users in 2019, with the worldwide total growing by 288 million (9 %) in one year1
Share economies such as Uber and Airbnb are driving innovation, and reliance on review platforms. But, online reviews aren’t limited to car-sharing or accommodation. They affect health care businesses too. In fact, if we dig into the facts, we’ll find that
- 90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year
- 33% of consumers look at local businesses online every day
- 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and 97% of these consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews2
Potential clients are googling you before they even call to make that first appointment. For those of you focussed on growing your business, creating and maintaining an online reputation helps build trust from that very first interaction.
Trust is a critical part of the client experience, but how do you create or measure trust when you can’t see the other person, face-to-face? Rachel Botsman is a world-renowned expert on an explosive new era of trust and technology and what this means for life, work and how we do business. “Trust”, she says, “is measured in terms of reputation”. Learn more by watching her TED Talk: We've stopped trusting institutions and started trusting strangers.
Reputation can be measured quantitatively (such as star rating systems, where people may rate their experience on a scale of 1 to 5) or qualitatively (where people write reviews about their personal experiences and make recommendations). The best platforms use both.
The absence of reviews altogether can be as risky as a poor rating, since users prefer to choose “tried and tested” businesses. An abundance of highly rated reviews builds confidence that clients will have a similar positive experience if they choose to trust that business.
In our industry, online reviews present clients with an opportunity to learn from others who have been through a similar health care and service experience. This can be very powerful, not only providing insight into the experience with a specific care provider but also their personal journey.
- First, make sure your business is listed in several, well-regarded review platforms. The easiest way to do this is with Google My Business.
- Second, encourage your clients to leave a review online and make it easy for them. If you email a receipt, appointment reminder, or newsletter simply ask them to tell you how they did and provide a link to the review platform.
- Third, make sure you read all the reviews written about your business, and reply. Positive reviews should get a thank you, and negative reviews should be acknowledged (not argued) with an offer to address concerns, where possible. Your ability to respond to the feedback in a professional, caring way serves to strengthen your reputation with clients and remove the disgruntled reviewer’s authority
- Lastly, take these reviews to heart. They provide valuable information into what’s working well and at times, identify areas that don’t’ meet expectations. Consider these when you’re planning your business objectives year to year.
Client referrals are the biggest source of new business in your clinic. Building trust online helps strengthen reputation and relationships that can weather difficult times in experiences, life changes and broader global circumstances.
1 We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Global Digital 2019 reports
2 BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey 2019