As the world becomes increasingly mobile and connected, more and more people turn to social media or review sites to communicate with providers. Your orthodontic patients or their parents are increasingly as likely to reach out on Facebook as they are to pick up a phone if they have a question or a concern.
Customer service in the online world isn’t just a good idea—it’s mandatory. Consumers tend to talk about their customer service experiences both virtual and real world in an online space, meaning that ignoring or dismissing these conversations on the internet can be a fatal move for your practice.
To help protect your practice’s reputation, here are the Five “P”s of online customer service:
- Be present. If you don’t have an online presence, you can’t participate in the conversations about your practice. Make a point of creating accounts on the platforms your patients and/or parents are most likely to be on—at minimum, this includes Facebook, Twitter, and review sites such as Yelp and HealthGrades. Claim your search sites and flesh them out with photos and practice details. This is especially true for your Google profile listing.
- Be prompt. Check your messages or alerts and do your best to answer within minutes, if not hours. A staff member can be assigned to handle this task, with only serious or complex issues directed your way. Delays in responding lead quickly to impatience and dissatisfaction, while a fast answer builds you up. In addition, your website email and contact forms should be closely monitored.
- Be prepared. Having stock answers for frequently asked questions can help, as can videos showing everything from proper brushing and flossing techniques for braces wearers to a simulation of how orthodontic treatment works.
- Be patient. You’ll find yourself answering the same questions over and over. That may seem boring to you, but it will mean the world to those asking for the first time.
- Be polite. Even if a comment online is nasty or angry, keep your cool. Reach out privately and try to take the conversation offline. Fix the issue, then let the onlookers know the resolution. Several doctors have reported to me that negative reviews have been revised after a resolution.
Social media in particular is the new word of mouth, and good or bad performance here can make or break an orthodontic practice. Make sure you are consistent both on and offline to see your practice thrive and patient engagement soar! OP
Nancy Hyman, of Ortho Referral Systems, is a national speaker, writer, and practice growth consultant specializing in referral systems and increased case acceptance, exclusively for the orthodontic industry. Nancy offers the Spin It! Patient Rewards Wheel and creative materials to promote referrals. She has presented lectures at multiple national meetings including the AAO, topsFest, and Ortho 2.