Today we’re going to talk about reputation management. The information offered in this post was provided by Bill Schroeder, a founding owner of InTouch Practice Communications, and Jessica Vogelsang, better known as Dr. V from the blog Pawcurious, in a session at the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 2013 conference. The session was presented as part of a strategic alliance between AAHA and BlogPaws. Though we’ll talk primarily about veterinarians and veterinary hospitals here, this information is relevant to almost any business.
Protecting your reputation has become particularly important in the digital world in which we now live. Anyone with an ax to grind with you can now go online and essentially trash your reputation while remaining all but anonymous themselves. How can you possibly protect against that?
The first thing you need to do is to make sure that your clients’ offline experience is a good one. Your customer service must be exemplary. Doing so will help you create loyal clients who are not only willing but happy to come to your defense in the event that you are unjustly accused. Of course, providing first-rate customer service will help avoid complaints as well.
The next thing you need to do is to start monitoring what is being said about your business online. Monitor not only your business name but the names of the doctors in your practice (assuming your business is a veterinary hospital) as well as the names of nearby competing businesses. Google alerts can work well for this but you may even want to consider a professional monitoring service.
When you do begin to establish your online presence, optimize your website, your blog, and your social media outlets for the search terms that you have identified. Good search terms to use include those that you might find in reviews of your business. Examples of these search terms might be “best veterinarian in Some Town” or “top animal hospital in Some State”.
Before you do begin establishing your online presence, consider hosting a focus group. Invite some of your best clients, some of your average clients, and some of the clients that have left your business. Develop a list of questions but let someone else run the focus group for you so that your guests feel free to speak their minds without insulting you and your business. You and your staff should not be present during this focus group session but make sure you get a detailed report of the results. By hosting a gathering like this, you can identify your strengths and your weaknesses. You’ll have the opportunity to fix any problems before putting your business in the digital spotlight.
When establishing your presence online, be certain you are not using “black-hat” search engine optimization techniques. Also be sure that you have permission to use any media you incorporate into your website or blog.
Finally, encourage your satisfied clients to provide reviews for you. Set up pages for your business on review sites such as Yelp and Google. Create a landing page on your business website with links to these various review sites. Make writing a review as easy as possible for those who wish to help.