In the healthcare industry, it’s crucial that you not only have a strong online presence but also possess a reputation that is compelling enough to encourage potential customers to pick you ahead of close competitors.

Whether it’s a service relating to healthcare or products that promote improved health and wellbeing, companies will look to enhance their online visibility to connect with their audience and communicate brand messaging to stay ahead of competitors.

The seismic shift to online and digital has meant that refusing to adapt is also likely to mean losing your appeal and falling behind. With this in mind, healthcare service providers have looked to develop their online presence and impact to stay ahead of the game and remain relevant in an ever-developing market.

How does online reputation management work?

Online reputation management is the process of carrying out a broad selection of tasks to ensure that your digital image is intact. Whether talking about monitoring mentions of your brand on social media platforms to counteract the detrimental effects negative feedback can have or having a more extensive and robust ‘rep man’ process in place, online reputation management is often used as an all-encompassing term for improving how your audience perceives your online presence.

If a brand suffers negative feedback online, it can be hard to rebuild from the damage it’s caused, especially if the criticism was seen publicly. But by responding in an understanding, respectable and reasonable manner and providing a solution to the individual such as a heartfelt apology and a replacement service or product, it could be that the negative comment is a blip that other customers will easily forget. However, preventing negativity from your target audience by having appropriate platforms for both displaying an online presence and maintaining a reliable, professional and consistent reputation are equally as important factors toward online reputation management.

A customer leaving a review of a brand online.

Why you need online reputation management

According to statistics from online reputation management experts Reputation X, three out of four consumers are more likely to trust a company if it has positive reviews. Even then, it was important that a positive review met certain expectations, with reviews below three out of five stars failing to convert 86 per cent of consumers that saw them.

More specifically, consumer insight specialists Auris stress the importance of having a strong online reputation in the healthcare industry. They claim that, in general consumer matters, 60 per cent of adults will depend on positive reviews before making a choice. Additionally, Auris’ findings suggest that 37 per cent of people will never use the services of a healthcare provider if they’ve suffered negative reviews. Looking at the reasoning behind negative reviews in this sector, Auris claim that the primary factors that have led service users to be disgruntled include communication with an unprofessional or rude customer service agent, an error with invoicing or incorrect details in regards to the customer or the service or product they paid for.

Managing a reputation is far from easy, but the importance of this process can’t be stressed enough. In any setting – be it on the high street or the digital sphere – a negative review or poor overall reputation can, in some cases, be the reason why a brand falls completely out of favour. Tech insight company ReviewTrackers suggests that a negative experience is more likely to prompt a customer review than a positive one. And with Reputation X claiming that 85 per cent of consumers will rely on a customer review as much as the opinion of a friend or family member, it’s no mystery that businesses would put an emphasis on managing their online reputation successfully.

How companies manage their online image

While a positive online reputation is something every type of business would benefit from, it’s an even more pivotal factor for companies in the healthcare industry. Without a certain level of online reputation, it can be hard to generate enough trust for potential customers to use services or buy products, especially if it could be ineffective or negatively affect their health and wellbeing.

Gone are the days of a healthcare provider’s reputation starting and ending with the level of service provided at a doctor’s practice or the quality of products sold in a pharmacy. In modern healthcare, the internet has become a key tool and one that builds trust with customers and represents an online image that appears professional yet approachable. For many, it will not replace the one-to-one personal consultation from a healthcare professional who knows their patent and their medical history, but it is providing a source of information that is credible. As such, the first step that many established healthcare businesses have taken include creating a website and using it – along with relevant social media accounts – as a platform for communicating with customers and displaying the products and services on offer.

What are some ways to manage your online reputation?

As a starting point, it would be advisable that any business enhances their online presence by creating a website and social media channels that reflect the interests of their audience. For instance, if your company is distinguished and focused on a corporate audience, LinkedIn would be best suited, if you want to target a younger audience, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok are more appropriate, and Facebook and Twitter are often universal for any company.

Once every form of online presence has been catered for, you could:

  • Communicate directly with your audience via social media, emails and live chat
  • Request for reviews and initiate changes based on customer feedback
  • Formulate an understanding of your audience to gauge how best to engage with them
  • Establish a tone of voice, theme and style that can be used universally across all communications
  • Set alerts to track mentions of the brand name on social media platforms and search engines
  • Approach established influencers and experts to promote your product or service
  • Assess your brand through the eyes of your audience to see what needs to be tweaked
  • Start a blog on your brand website to explain your product or service in greater detail
  • Instead of worsening the situation, respond to negative feedback diplomatically, sympathise and provide suitable solutions.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that your brand makes maximum impact in e-stores such as Amazon, eBay, Pharmacy2U, Boots, Superdrug etc.

Key factors that work towards making the presence of a product or brand stand out within an e-store include:

  • Clear product imagery that highlights key selling points
  • Creating a brand store that is kept dynamic through revised messaging and imagery
  • Impactful descriptions that stay within regulatory guidelines
  • Effective consumer advertising
  • Investment on making the product prominent on the category page

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