Providers cultivate online customer reviews

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Friday, February 15, 2019

YARMOUTH, Maine – Most HME providers have some sort of online presence, but it’s important to manage that presence, particularly reviews of their businesses, experts say.

Google, Yelp and Facebook are among the most widely used tools for reviewing products and businesses, and a lot’s at stake. VGM Forbin’s Christina Throndson says 70% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a family member’s opinion.

“Reviews have an incredible impact on your end users and making sure they can trust you,” said Throndson, vice president at VGM Forbin. “It helps your online presence, so it’s important to get these reviews.”

That often means providers can’t be being shy about asking customers upfront for online reviews.

“If somebody is talking about something they got or how much they love what you did for them, you’ve got to say, ‘We’d love a Facebook or Google review,’” said Kevin Brown, co-owner of Hermitage, Tenn.-based All Star Medical. “It increases visibility.”

Even if providers aren’t actively seeking out online reviews, it’s a good idea for them to monitor what others are saying about them, Throndson says. Provider Johnny Miller learned that the hard way.

“We realized we had some not-so-kind reviews out there on Google and that wasn’t the whole story of who we are, what we do and how we do it,” said Miller, owner of Akron, Ohio-based Miller’s. “We thought, ‘Let’s be proactive and not let the naysayers write the narrative.’”

Miller’s now routinely asks customers for Google reviews. It has also implemented a rewards system for employees who receive five-star reviews online.

“It incentivizes the employees to let the end user know if they mention staff by name online they earn a reward,” Miller said.

If, in checking their online presence, providers find bad reviews, they need to react constructively.

“We’re not perfect, but when a review is posted there are many cases where you are able to respond to it and have that bad review removed or the rating increased,” Miller said. “We respond to every review. We want folks to know we are paying attention and we are responsive.”