Word of mouth has always been one of the most important means of communication whether it’s spreading news or sharing opinions. In the old days, pre-internet, if a patient was dissatisfied with his or her experience, chances are he’d tell about 15-20 people. Today, patients are texting, tweeting and posting their feelings throughout the entire experience. And chances are, you aren’t in their feed and may never know what is being said. With the click of a mouse, patients are sharing their experiences, good and bad, with the world.
Word of mouse is the new word of mouth. In just seconds your patients can tell thousands about a rude receptionist, long wait time or convoluted processes. And hopefully they are also sharing the great experiences along the way as well.
I watched the power of social media unfold before my eyes a few weeks ago when someone made a negative comment on Facebook about their experiences at a pediatric clinic. Within minutes, there were dozens of comments from others sharing their similar, negative experiences and it snowballed from there. In among the negative were a few positive experiences but they were drowned out by the negative. It was harsh to say the least.
Although we cannot prevent people from seeing the negative, we can do our best to create a consistently positive patient experience. Map out your patient experiences to identify opportunities for improvement, listen to patient feedback with an open mind. The minor complaint today could be the snowballing social media conversation of tomorrow.