The influence of online reviews on client decision-making cannot be overstated. Whether you run a local eye care office, a global law firm, or anything in-between, managing your online reputation can make or break your business.
In this blog, we delve into the vital realm of reputation management services and uncover the critical importance of monitoring, responding to, and actively shaping your online reviews on important directory listings like Google and Facebook, as well as niche directory listings. Effective online review management not only protects a business’s reputation and boosts revenue, it also provides valuable, current insights into client and patient satisfaction and areas for improvement.
The Power of Online Reviews for Law Firms and Medical Professionals
Online reviews have a profound influence on getting potential clients to go from looking at your practice online to then picking up the phone and booking an appointment or filling out a consultation form on your website. According to BrightLocal’s 2023 Local Consumer Review Survey:
- 76% of consumers say they regularly read online reviews when researching local businesses.
- 87% said they would not consider patronizing a business with an average review rating of less than 3 stars.
- 38% said they expect a local business to average at least 4 stars to even consider using it.
Those statistics demonstrate clearly the substantial power that online reviews hold in shaping consumer behavior and potential client decisions.
How Reviews Can Affect a Your Practice’s Credibility
Online reviews have significant influence over a doctor or lawyer’s perception and credibility in several ways:
- First Impressions Matter: Potential customers often encounter online reviews before anything else. Positive reviews create a favorable first impression, while negative ones can deter prospects from engaging with your office.
- Social Proof: Online reviews serve as social proof of your service’s quality. When consumers see others satisfied with your service, it instills confidence and credibility in your practice.
- Trust Building: Trust is the foundation of any successful professional-customer relationship. Offices with a consistent stream of positive reviews are more likely to gain trust and loyalty from their audience.
How Online Reviews Affect Google Search Engine Rankings
In addition to their impact on a businesses’ perception and credibility, online reviews, particularly Google reviews, also play a crucial role in determining a business’s visibility in search engine rankings. Search engines like Google consider customer reviews as a ranking factor, meaning that businesses with higher ratings and more Google reviews are likely to appear higher in search results and on Google Maps. This is especially important for law firms and doctors who rely on positive Google reviews to attract prospective customers and employees. They can also show up in your Google My Business listing, further enhancing your online presence and increasing your chances of being found by potential clients.
Search engines prioritize providing users with the most relevant and trustworthy information. By analyzing customer reviews, search engines can gauge the quality and reputation of a business. Reviews also often have relevant keywords that help search engines understand what the business offers and improve its visibility in relevant search queries.
Why Should You Manage Online Reviews?
Businesses that aren’t actively managing and leveraging online reviews to build trust, credibility, and positive customer relationships are ultimately impacting their bottom line.
1) Avoid Loss of Potential Customers
It’s pretty clear from the statistics mentioned earlier that negative reviews can drive potential customers away. If you don’t have many reviews, then it’s far easier for a small number of negative reviews to drag your average star rating down.
Consider the math: A potential customer finds your Google listing in a search and you only have 3 reviews — one is a 5-star review, the other 2 are 1-star reviews. Your average star rating will be brought down to 3 stars, which could discourage up to 87% of potential customers from choosing your business. Getting just 2 more 5-star reviews would bump you up to a 4-star average.
You could wait and hope for new positive reviews, or you could be actively pursuing them.
2) Protect Your Reputation
Consistent negative feedback can harm the trust and credibility you have worked hard to establish. From the example above, it only takes a few disgruntled customers (or former employees) to damage your reputation in our hyper-connected digital landscape. Managing your online reviews by appropriately dealing with the negative reviews and actively growing positive reviews is a critical component of managing your reputation. For your marketing and communications to hold any weight, transparency is key. And that means dealing with public customer reviews that are negative or even fake.
3) Leverage Reviews to Increase Revenue
Negative reviews can directly impact your bottom line on the internet. If potential customers choose competitors due to bad reviews that your previous customers have left, it leads to a decrease in clients and customers. But negative reviews aren’t the only ones that can affect your business! Having only a few reviews, even if they are all 5-star, could still potentially harm your ability to bring in customers if your competitors are actively managing their online reputations.
Marketing your positive reviews is a must. Sharing up-to-date positive reviews on your website and across social media will show potential clients that they can expect 5-star service from your practice.
Consider this: If you’re a LASIK surgeon with only 5 online reviews and a potential patient finds your listing next to a competitor who has dozens or even hundreds of 5-star ratings, who looks like the better choice?
How to Manage Online Reviews: DIY VS Reputation Marketing Services
Generally, there are a few key components of any strategy for review management:
- Monitor: Regularly monitor all the major review platforms such as Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook, and niche directory sites to stay updated on what customers are saying about your business.
- Respond: It is essential to respond in a timely and professional manner to both negative and positive reviews.
- Build: Encourage your satisfied customers to leave positive reviews by providing them with exceptional service and asking for their feedback.
- Market: Showcase your positive reviews on your website so that anyone that clicks to your site, whether it be organically or a referral, sees your positive reputation.
- Analyze: Analyze the feedback from reviews and identify any recurring issues or patterns. Use this information to make necessary improvements to your business.
These steps can be done in two primary ways: by handling them internally or by hiring a company that specializes in reputation marketing services.
Let’s explore the key differences:
Managing Your Own Reviews – DIY
When you manage online reviews in-house, it means taking direct control over monitoring and responding to reviews on various platforms. You or your team are responsible for handling all customer feedback.
While this option doesn’t involve additional expenses for outsourcing, it has several drawbacks:
- Resource-Intensive: Handling reviews internally can be time-consuming, diverting resources from other core business activities.
- Limited Expertise: Internal teams may lack the expertise and tools needed for advanced reputation management, sentiment analysis, or strategies to improve online reputation.
- Subjectivity: Internal teams may have biases when responding to negative reviews, potentially leading to inconsistent or emotional responses.
- Overwhelm: In cases of high review volumes, internal management can become overwhelming, affecting response quality.
- Competing Priorities: Balancing review management with other responsibilities can be challenging, especially for small businesses with limited staff.
- Staff Lacks Technical Ability: To be able to display your reviews on your website and social media, you will typically need some technical savvy or have to utilize a web developer to display your up to date reviews on your website.
Utilizing Full Service Reputation Marketing Services
The other option for review management is outsourcing to a company that specializes in reputation marketing services. This offers several advantages:
- Expertise in handling negative reviews: Reputation marketing companies have the experience and knowledge to effectively handle negative reviews. They are trained to handle negative feedback professionally and constructively, reducing the risk of emotional or inconsistent responses. Good reputation marketing companies will consult with you on how you would like to handle a negative review so that no response is posted online without your approval.
- Building new positive reviews: Generating more reviews is a critical component of managing your online reputation. This means implementing strategies such as email and text campaigns to increase the number of positive reviews for your business. Full service companies can help automate the feedback request process by working with your existing client management systems.
- Responding to positive reviews: Full service rep marketing services will manually respond to positive reviews freeing up time for your business. They will take in to consideration any HIPPA or client information issues while thanking your clients for their positive feedback.
- Tools and Technology: These companies are skilled in using advanced tools and technologies to automate and streamline the review management process. This allows for efficient monitoring, analysis, and response to reviews. They will be able to add any up to date reviews to your website so that potential clients see new, recent reviews.
- Time-Saving: By having a reputation marketing service manage online reviews for your practice, you free up valuable time and resources. This allows your internal teams to focus on their core business activities.
- Scalability: Reputation marketing services are equipped to handle high volumes of reviews, ensuring that no feedback goes unnoticed. With dedicated teams and streamlined processes, they can efficiently scale up or down to accommodate your needs, whether you have a few reviews or hundreds of them.
Consistency When Managing Online Reviews Is Crucial
Whether you choose to go the DIY route for review management or outsource to a reputable company, consistency is crucial. This means being consistent in timing, tone, messaging, and resolution across all platforms.
- Builds Credibility: When customers see that your business consistently engages with reviews, it demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction.
- Prevents Escalation: Timely responses to negative reviews can prevent issues from escalating. Resolving problems promptly demonstrates excellent customer service.
- Shows Responsiveness: When you consistently manage online reviews, it demonstrates that you value feedback and are responsive to customer concerns. It reassures customers that their opinions matter.
- Maintains Brand Image: Regularly addressing both positive and negative reviews helps your image remain intact. Ignoring reviews or only responding sporadically can harm your reputation.
- Keeps Customers Engaged: Regular engagement with reviews keeps customers engaged and connected with you. They are more likely to return if they see your active involvement.
- Monitors Trends: Consistency allows you to identify trends and patterns in customer feedback. This data can inform improvements to your products or services.
- Boosts SEO: Search engines favor businesses with a consistent online presence. Regularly updated review profiles can improve your visibility in search results.
Get Help Managing and Growing Your Reviews
For business owners, maintaining this level of consistency while attending to the day-to-day needs of their business is simply not practical. If this is the case for you, Thunderhead Marketing is here to help. Contact us today to learn why our full service reputation marketing services are utilized by lawyers and doctors throughout the nation.