A Guest Post By Abram Bailey
I wrote recently about ziphearing.com, there is another site that has similar aims and ethos. The site is hearingtracker.com The President of that site is a chap named Abram Bailey, I asked Abram to guest post on the blog. I wanted him to explain how he felt the value was delivered by his site. He came back with the following post in relation to consumer review strategy. I firmly believe that word of mouth is moving on line, I have spoken previously about social proof.
In essence Abram wants to give you a platform and a strategy for managing that social proof. So I will hand over to him, enjoy.
Implementing a Consumer-Review Strategy
Did you know that roughly 25% of consumers check online doctor reviews before making an appointment? (USA Today, 2014) Did you know that the number is slightly higher, at 27%, for the 65+ age group? (Software Advice, 2013)
Ok, so consumers look at online reviews, but what influence do they have?
Of a balanced sample of national respondents, 19% said online ratings were very important when choosing a primary care physician. “Among those who sought online physician ratings in the past year, 35% reported selecting a physician based on good ratings.” This represents a significant rise, over the past few years, in the value Americans place on online doctor reviews (JAMA, 2014).
Few audiologists would dispute that online reviews are a growing trend, but only a small percentage have actually prioritized generating online reviews, as a part of their greater online marketing plan.
There is one positive lurking in this statement; it’s not too late to get ahead of the curve.
Online review completion rates are notoriously low, with as few as 5% of patients bothering to review their medical professional (JAMA, 2014). You will need a well-defined action plan, with adequate incentives, to successfully encourage your patients to take the time to leave a review.
Hang on. Are you suggesting I give my patients a gift in exchange for an online review?
No, I am not suggesting that. We’ll have to think outside the box to come up with something creative.
Perhaps there are other intangible incentives?
I’ll get to that. Hang in there.
When the time comes to ask a patient to submit an online review, you will need to refer them to a single website. You can’t hand them a list with HealthGrades, Google+, Yelp, ZocDoc, Vitals, etc, and say, “OK, please go home and pick your favorite site, and leave me a review.” To make the process as streamlined as possible, you will need to be explicit, and provide the simplest instructions possible. In addition, you should focus your efforts on building up a strong presence on one website at a time. I’m not saying you should pick one site, and ignore the rest, but have a game plan, and build it into your clinical protocol.
OK, so where do I start?
When choosing an online review site to use with your patients, you should carefully consider the options. There are many factors to consider:
- How much time will it take me, per patient?
- How am I protected from bad reviews?
- How easy is the process of leaving a review, for the patient?
- What incentives does the website provide to improve review completion rate?
- What knowledge will I gain from the reviews?
- Will the reviews be relevant to other hearing impaired consumers?
- How does the website represent me professionally? And my practice?
- What is the traffic of the website? Will the information be seen by prospective clients?
- How easy is it for consumers to find my profile on the site?
- How easy is it for consumers to contact me?
- How safe is my information with the website?
- What is the website’s mission?
I could not possibly go through each of these questions for every available consumer-review website. However, as the founder of HearingTracker.com, I have the answers to these questions readily available for our platform (keep reading below). I will leave it up to you to assess the available options, and choose your preferred platform.
How much time will it take me, per patient?
Based on feedback from our users, it takes about 30 seconds to initiate a new consumer review on Hearing Tracker. To start you’ll need to enter some basic information about your patient. Don’t worry we aren’t collecting any information that could potentially identify your patient. Next, print off the review instructions, generated by Hearing Tracker, and hand them to your patient. Lastly, encourage them to go home, follow the instructions, and leave a review (we’ll get to the incentives soon, I promise!).
How am I protected from bad reviews?
When you provide your patient with the review instructions, they also get a unique code that allows them to review you. In other words, no one (except your patients), will have the ability to review you! There’s no need to worry about your competitor posting a false review, because it just isn’t possible with Hearing Tracker.
We’ve also built in a number of privacy settings, to allow you to use Hearing Tracker to track customer feedback, without posting it publicly.
How easy is the process of leaving a review, for the patient?
We mentioned before that you need to tell us about your patient’s hearing aids when initiating a consumer review. As a part of the consumer review process, we ask patients to complete a satisfaction and benefit survey about their hearing aids (yes, we just administered an outcome measurement for you). Following the hearing aid survey, we ask patients to complete a customer feedback survey. This is where they are asked to review your service quality. Both surveys are extremely easy to complete, with 1-5 star rating scales and large fonts for easy legibility.
What incentives does the website provide to improve review completion rate?
We finally made it! Let’s find out about these incentives. What is Hearing Tracker doing to improve completion rate, when compared to websites like Yelp? Let’s break this one down:
- Patients are not required to register with Hearing Tracker in order to leave a review. We all know how easy it is to blow something off when it comes to creating another new account.
- As long as you show genuine concern and anticipation about the results of the survey, your patient will be motivated to provide the information. By integrating Hearing Tracker with your clinical protocol, and by gathering clinically-relevant information (alongside the customer feedback survey), your patient will see the relevancy of the review to their own clinical care.
- Hearing Tracker sends your patient a few packs of free hearing aid batteries after they complete the review process. This is an optional incentive, available to patients who wish to register with Hearing Tracker (after completing their review). Who doesn’t love getting something for free?
What knowledge will I gain from the reviews?
HearingTracker.com helps make collecting and aggregating customer surveys simple, and provides a number of tools to help audiologists identify strengths and weaknesses in their services. The website also provides tools to help audiologists learn more from their outcome measurements (e.g. which hearing aid models are producing the greatest success among patients with mild hearing loss). By amassing a large set of outcome measurements, providers will be able to make evidence-based hearing aid recommendations, based on their own clinical history. Further, audiologists have the opportunity to learn from the successes and failures of their peers, increasing consistency across the profession.
Will the reviews be relevant to other hearing impaired consumers?
We spent a long time developing a set of meaningful survey questions, for both the hearing aid outcome measurement and customer feedback survey. The information gathered by Hearing Tracker is hands-down the most audiologically-relevant information a consumer could hope to find when browsing for hearing aid and audiologist reviews. We are providing a premium custom-designed solution, exclusively for hearing-impaired consumers.
How does the website represent me professionally? And my practice?
While some websites focus primarily on practice profiles, Hearing Tracker has put the focus on the provider. This has been the winning formula for websites like HealthGrades.com, so we’ve implemented a similar system, but with provider information that is more relevant to audiology consumers.
On a provider’s profile page we list educational background, professional groups, clinic address, and contact details (including web address). We also highlight fitting outcomes and customer feedback surveys (for those providers who’ve chosen to publicize their customer reviews).
What is the traffic of the website? Will the information be seen by prospective clients?
HearingTracker.com is a relatively new website – We officially launched at AudiologyNow! in March 2014. However, we have garnered significant attention from both audiologists and consumers. We are leading the pack in consumer-generated hearing aid reviews and have over 80 audiology members. Within the past few months we have received over 30,000 page views and visitors from every major city (and all 50 states). We are excited about our rapid growth, and think we’ve got the winning formula.
How easy is it for consumers to find my profile on the site?
Finding an audiologists profile on Hearing Tracker is extremely easy. Consumers must click on the “Providers” tab, and then click on the “Close to me” button. They will immediately see a list of their local providers. Local providers may also be viewed on a large, easy to read map.
Consumers will also be shown a list of local providers when they express interest in a particular hearing aid. In essence, we are providing a lead-referral service, at no cost.
How easy is it for consumers to contact me?
As mentioned, your profile page displays all of your contact information. We allow everyone to view your contact information, even users who aren’t registered with Hearing Tracker.
How safe is my information with the website?
HearingTracker.com is an information resource for consumers and audiologists, but it also has the potential to reveal industry trends. We plan to collect, analyze, and distribute the information we collect in a de-identified manner. In other words, we will not share your personal information, or information that would identify you. We are interested in large-scale trends, not provider or practice-specific information.
What is the website’s mission?
In a future filled with cheap alternatives, consumers will need to know what extra value they will receive, if any, by purchasing a professionally-fitted hearing device. By documenting the high levels of benefit and satisfaction we deliver to our patients, we can prove the value of our services, and secure our position in the future of a rapidly changing industry.
Take home message
Online consumer reviews offer a great free marketing opportunity that should be utilized as a part of your routine clinical practice. While we feel that HearingTracker.com is the best option for audiologists, it is up to you to investigate the alternatives, and select the platform that best meets your needs.
About the Author
Abram Bailey is the current president of Hearing Tracker, Inc. He holds an AuD from Vanderbilt University and has 5 years’ experience working as a clinical audiologists and clinic manager in New Zealand. Abram has an informal background in computer science, with a good working-knowledge of database-backed web-applications and responsive web-design. He recently led a number of learning-sessions and workshops at AudiologyNOW!, with a focus on Hearing Tracker.
Hanauer, D.A., et al., Public Awareness, Perception, and Use of Online Physician Rating Sites. JAMA. 2014;311(7):734-735