Don't let bad Internet reviews bite
Are online ratings services your friend or foe? Here's how to make them work for you.
Apr 01, 2008
Let's say you're casually googling your practice one day when you find a review that makes your eyes pop out of your head:
They have the highest clinic death rate. That's because no certification is required to work there! There are four investigations pending against this clinic, including animal cruelty. Records prove that most of the deaths occur either when the pet is left alone overnight or during procedures. I don't recommend this clinic to anyone who values their pet's life.
Know your stuff
First things first. You can't do anything about erroneous or bad reviews if you don't know what's out there—so start surfing. You need to look at the ratings sites and find out what, if anything, has been said about your practice. In "Check These Out," on the next page, I've listed the most common sites in order of popularity, based on my research.
The advantage: You
Despite all the potential problems they create, online review services are the wave of the future. Don't ignore them. Instead, use them as marketing and client communication tools.
In a recent edition of American Spa, columnist Karl Bantleman described how he turned online ratings services to his favor. If someone complained, he'd contact the person, invite her to revisit the spa, and attempt to resolve the problem, real or perceived. He even ended up using some of these people as mystery shoppers. According to Bantleman, here's what you need to do to make online ratings services an effective tool for your practice:
> Offer to rectify the situation if the review was negative or indifferent, and enlist the reviewer's help in improving your service.
> Join a site and write reviews of businesses in your area (but not your competition or your own practice). This makes you a member of the community.
> Participate in featured business advertising programs, such as a sponsored listing or a banner ad.