Online reputation management is a cornerstone for agencies trying to build trust and attract more patients in today’s digital landscape. By automating internal processes, you can enhance your online presence and improve patient satisfaction without draining valuable time or resources.
This blog recaps the discussion, “Harnessing Automation for Effective Reputation Management,” held at Birdeye View 2023. The discussion is led by Justin Meredith, a Content Marketing Specialist from Birdeye, and features Bill Riley, Vice President of Marketing at Medical Advantage Group.
Key takeaways from the discussion
- Automation is crucial for agencies looking to scale efficiently.
- Timeliness of review requests is critical — requests sent within the first 24 hours drive the highest response rates.
- One orthopedic practice witnessed its reviews soar from 30 per quarter to 250 after launching a formal reputation management campaign.
- Compliance and security concerns make healthcare integration uniquely challenging. However, Birdeye’s experience and expertise put clients’ minds at ease.
- AI can analyze reviews and suggest human-like, personalized responses.
- The Birdeye dashboard simplifies managing high-volume clients by surfacing insights.
Justin: Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, everyone, and welcome to today’s session on how to scale your agency and minimize churn with automation. We are thrilled to have you join us today.
My name is Justin Meredith, and I’ll be your moderator. In this session, we will delve into the various complexities associated with growing an agency, ensuring every client is set up for success. Ultimately, we will discuss leveraging automation to overcome some of these complexities and reduce client churn.
We are also going to be joined by a very special guest who will share their experience and insights on how to accomplish this. So without further ado, let me introduce our guest. Please join me in welcoming Bill Riley, Vice President of Marketing at Medical Advantage Group, a leading consultancy group in the healthcare industry that aids primary practices in bettering their interactions with patients and technology.
Welcome, Bill. How are you doing today?
Bill: Hey Justin, thanks a lot. I’m doing great, thanks for having me. It’s good to be here.
Justin: So, we have a lot to cover today, but before we dive in, could you tell us a little more about yourself and what Medical Advantage does for its clients?
Bill: Sure, so as you said, we are a healthcare consulting company. We help medical practices in improving their operation overall. We help them achieve success in the business of healthcare. This means helping them optimize their use of technology, whether it’s telehealth technology or optimizing the use of the electronic health record system. We have a number of consultants who help improve a medical practice and their performance metrics.
Physician’s practices today are incentivized around key metrics for the quality of care delivered and metrics around keeping the overall cost and utilization of a practice down. So, our consultants help practices achieve strong financial performance and revenue growth.
A couple of years ago now, we acquired a digital marketing agency called iHealthSpot. We viewed the marketing agency as a natural extension to the existing portfolio of services that we provide to practices.
So now we can help [practices] with their go-to-market strategies and ultimately help them drive the acquisition of new patients. So, it’s everything from custom website design and development to pay-per-click advertising services both on Google as well as Facebook. We offer SEO services to optimize websites for search results, marketing content. We do a lot with directory listings, Google Business Profile, and especially reputation management services.
In my role here, I kind of have a dual role. I am the Vice President of Marketing. I’m accountable for the corporate marketing team at Medical Advantage and our own go-to-market. I also help oversee our digital agency.
Justin: Wow! So with your role, when it comes to taking care of all of these different facets of the healthcare practice, what are some of the challenges that you’ve faced and how did Birdeye come into play?
Bill: First is that healthcare, as an industry, is undergoing significant disruption or transformation, however, you want to describe it. We’ve got many new entrants already in the space — not coming in, they’re already in.
We’re seeing a tremendous amount of investment from private equity firms. If you think of just some simple examples that we’ve all probably seen, like retailers — CVS, Walgreens, and even Amazon have started to establish their own clinics in different geographies and neighborhoods. And if you think about it, these firms, as an example, have a longer history and culture around engaging with consumers and creating the best possible customer experience. Especially when compared to what we’ve traditionally experienced with healthcare over time, so, that is driving and accelerating a lot of change, especially concerning patients.
I think the pandemic and the lockdown had, obviously, a huge impact on healthcare, with an enormous growth in telehealth technology. But I think another fallout of that is, it really accelerates patient behavior. And it really accelerates patients being able to have choice. And I think now more than ever, they behave like regular consumers.
So, Justin, if you and I were traveling on business and were going to go out for dinner tonight when we go to pick a restaurant, we’re probably going to look online, right? And the reviews that we find are going to inform our decision.
It’s no different than when a patient selects a physician or a specialist. Even if ozone has been recommended to me or I’ve been referred to a provider, that’s fine. I’m probably going to check them out anyway, and the online reviews are going to be a big part of confirming that decision.
I think healthcare historically has been behind other industries like retail, the services industry, or hospitality. Online reviews for those industries are tablestakes — it’s obvious.
For many of our clients in healthcare, as we work together with Birdeye to implement a solution, it’s their first time with a formal reputation management initiative.
So, long intro. Let me come back to your question. I would say that fundamentally, the biggest challenge we were initially facing, and really how Birdeye has helped us, is that we were struggling to get our medical practice clients launched and onboarded with reputation management campaigns set up and underway.
So, to me, it’s really two components. The Birdeye tech platform is amazing, but in my mind, it’s also the Birdeye Services team that has really delivered tremendous value, working together with us, our service delivery team, and our clients to get initiatives up and off the ground.
We have been launching and managing reputation management campaigns together with the Birdeye team, and the results have been excellent.
Justin: So, relating to that, once your clients are onboarded, what sort of results have you observed?
Bill: Sure. The results have been wonderful. The results have been wonderful, and I want to say right up front; This is not trickery. We’re not gaming the system here, right? This is really… It’s understanding human behavior, consumer behavior, and taking advantage of that.
I think it’s just about… the volume of reviews is really key. A key to success, that we’ve found, is we must — on behalf of our medical practice clients — we must proactively request reviews from clients (in this case it’s patients) shortly following a transaction or a procedure or whatever it may be.
As we do this, across the board, we experience — or our clients enjoy — a higher volume of reviews received. And I’ll say, I think without exception, a higher average star rating as we get the higher volume.
I think it’s just human nature: if I’m really upset about an experience — a dinner, a stay at a hotel, whatever — I’m going to tell everyone I know about how unhappy I am and might leave a negative review. If I’m happy, I’m just going to go about my day. Right? I’m busy, we all are busy, we’ve got a lot of things going on and we’re just going on to the next thing.
So just taking a moment and making a polite request, “Hey, thank you for seeing us. Could you please take a moment to leave a review?” If I’m happy, yeah! If it’s easy, I’m just going to click a link, click a button, give a review, and boom — I’m done and away we go.
So, so much of this is just around taking a step and leveraging automation. Taking a step, politely asking folks to give a review, to give their feedback.
So I’ve got a few examples. One is that we have an orthopedic client that is in one metro area with four locations. Prior to working with us, they had no formal reputation management strategy. They had directory listings and many of these listings enabled patients to leave a review (if they chose to leave a review.) But there was no formal campaign.
So, the business was getting some reviews… but not very many. It was maybe 10 a month or 30-35 per quarter. The average star rating was two point something — maybe 2.5 out of five.
Earlier this year we started the formal reputation management campaign where we’re leveraging recent appointment data being pulled from the practice electronic health records system, such that the Birdeye platform is automatically generating requests for reviews following an appointment. Just a couple of months later everything has gone way up.
We’re now closer to 250 reviews per quarter — so from 30 up to 250 — and the star rating has gone way, way up. From 2.5, we’re now north of 4.5 and still climbing.Bill Riley
Bill: And this is…we’re just a few months into it. So, amazing results.
You know, something else I’ll talk about, the other thing, at least in the healthcare space — and this may be true in other verticals — is private equity interest. We work with another large client that is private equity-owned. They are looking to do an exit and they strongly believe that the average star rating of their collection — it’s several hundred physicians across dozens of locations — but they believe strongly that the average star rating of all the physicians of the whole organization is an indicator of the overall value of that group.
So, they engaged us to implement, with Birdeye, a proactive reputation management campaign. And since then, same story: volume of reviews is way up.
We took them from a two-point-something to a four-point-something, and they’re very very pleased. So, that’s been another great example.
The third thing that I’ll mention is that we are helping the overwhelming majority of our clients with the delivery of review requests and helping them to drive their average star rating higher.
We do have a tiny subset that is also leveraging the Birdeye platform through our team to do customer surveys. Now, these are not long, involved, detailed surveys. They’re typically shorter. You know, five, maybe ten questions. Simple. Point, click, give some feedback, and away you go.
And for those firms that are committed to continuous improvement and understanding the voice of the customer, the firms that have workflows and a process in place to ingest this information, the firms that actually do something about it, we’ve seen just phenomenal results there.
Think of a typical medical practice workflow:
- Making the appointment
- Your experience with the front desk as you check in
- Your experience as you’re waiting
- Your experience with the clinician
- The checkout process
A practice has the ability to get feedback for each step in that workflow. And then the practice can really zero in on things like:
- It’s not all locations, it’s just this one location where it seems like we’ve got a front desk problem.
- It’s not all clinicians, it’s just this one physician who seems to perhaps could do better with their bedside manner.
A simple survey easily collected by the Birdeye platform really enables practices to understand what customers or patients are feeling. And you know, then they can do something about it.
Justin: Kind of going back to what you guys do at Medical Advantage. You guys are working with so many clients, and like you were saying, they all have different:
- Service providers
And all kinds of different things at each individual practice. So, what role does automation play in making these clients successful? Because I imagine with the variety of everything that you have going on with these clients, you have to be able to automate some part of the process.
Bill: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. I think that one thing we’ve learned is that timeliness is key.
If I get a request to give a review later that day or within 24 hours of my appointment with my physician, I’m much more likely to give that review. If it comes a week later or a month later, then I’ll probably have forgotten that I even had the appointment.Bill Riley
So we had some of our clients that day one wanted the control, right? They wanted to do this manually. They were going to have a member of their office staff send the requests on a manual basis or in a batch mode, right? They were going to run a report at the end of each week and just send the requests out in batch mode.
We just found that that doesn’t work — or it’s not as effective. That timeliness is key in order to get people to engage. So, that’s one. And then the other thing — at least for our collection of clients — medical practices are, by nature, very, very busy places. As the world is fully returning to — hopefully — normal, medical practices are as busy as ever. So that front desk staff often just doesn’t have the time to remember to run the report and push out the requests and everything else.
Automation is really key, and this is something that the Birdeye platform provides for us. It gives us the opportunity to connect to various electronic health record platforms where we can pull a report of recent appointments and then leverage the platform to send out the request — whether through text message, email, or both.
Justin: So, keeping in that theme of automation, we just talked about the automated review requests with Birdeye. Is there anything else within the Birdeye platform that’s automated that helps your clients manage that?
Bill: Yeah, there is a good amount of automation in terms of templated or automated responses to reviews that have been left. It could be as simple as different combinations and permutations of ways of saying, “Thank you,” automatically to someone who’s left a review — just to show some response. Lots of opportunities there.
Candidly, we don’t utilize that too much. Most of our clients prefer a member of our staff to engage and respond directly. Or if there is a negative review or if there’s a question, they want us to deal with it.
Some of our clients want to be personally alerted if there’s a negative review or a question, and they want a member of their team to handle that. So, that automation is there from Birdeye. In our particular scenario, we don’t use it a whole lot, but it’s there.
I think you’re going to be talking in a minute, Justin, about some new capabilities coming, so that’ll be very exciting.
Another thing I’m very happy to talk about is the reporting dashboard that Birdeye provides. Keep in mind here, my team, we’re not doing this for ourselves, right? We’re doing this for dozens of separate instances. You know, many, many different clients.
So, the dashboard solution that Birdeye provides makes it very easy for our teams to see, in a dynamic way, how are the campaigns performing? Are we trending up? Are we trending down? What are the insights we can quickly glean from what the data is telling us? Do I have a challenge for the five locations – four are doing great but the fifth location isn’t doing so hot… Why?
We can drill in and we can see more. Is it the entire operation or are the reviews mostly associated with one particular provider?
Data is just data, right? Who cares? But the ability to glean insights which then empower our team to deploy remedies or solutions — maybe someone needs to go work with the front desk person at that office, or the checkout process is taking too darn long and people are frustrated — whatever it might be. So, the Birdeye dashboard really does a great job — for our team and as an agency model — to empower our account managers to help provide value and drive improvements for our clients.Bill Riley
Justin: With so many different practices that you work with, there are bound to be countless CRMs, tools, and systems. I think you mentioned EHRs. There’s all kinds of different systems that need to be in place in order to be integrated. How do you manage all of that?
Bill: Yeah, so, think of an electronic health record system. It’s just a database, right? In hospitality, you have your reservation system and in retail, you have your point of sale system. In Healthcare, we have these databases that we call electronic health record systems. That’s the integration point for Birdeye to pull the patient appointment data.
One thing that I’ll say, though, automation is great. One of the great pieces of value from Birdeye is the fact that integrations with most leading EHR platforms have already been established. The real difference that I see, however, the added value I see from Birdeye is the experience and the ability to get these projects off the ground.
Keeping in mind that for our clients especially, we support a range of clients from Community Hospitals all the way down to Tiny Telehealth providers. But we’ve got a big collection of three to five location-independent practices. They’re not a part of a big hospital system in town. They’re their own business. For many of them, this is their first ever time doing reputation management. That means that we’re going to need to integrate with their electronic health record system. And this is a big request for many of our clients due to privacy concerns or HIPAA. In plain speak these regulations basically say that we must protect personal health information. That is critically important. It’s something that’s very closely watched and regulated.
So, as we do these implementations, we’re typically talking to or working with a different point of contact within that practice. It’s someone like an IT leader, maybe someone responsible for security at that practice.
If we come along and we say, “Hey we need to connect into your electronic health records,” they’re going to say no. They’re going to say, “Are you out of your mind? That’s the last thing we’re going to give to some vendor!”
There’s just too much risk. Careers are ended over HIPAA violations. If a big hospital system has a security breach and a HIPAA violation, that is on the front page of the national news. There’s a lot of risk here.
I greatly appreciate the Birdeye team — they’ve done this so many times. They speak with such authority and experience, it puts the client’s mind at ease. Because of that, we’re able to move ahead, we’re able to get the integration happening, and then we’re off and running.Bill Riley
So, beyond the automation that comes within the platform itself, I give a lot of credit and a lot of value to the Birdeye Services team.
Justin: That’s awesome. And, you know, it’s interesting that you say that because Birdeye was really founded around our founders trying to find a healthcare practice. I mean, we cover every industry that I can even think of now, but I know that we started within that healthcare industry. So, making sure that we had all of our ducks in a row when it comes to HIPAA and things like that was the priority from day one.
Let’s continue talking about automation. I want to rewind back to what you were saying about the templated responses that Birdeye offers. What’s really cool is that not too long ago, I think maybe a little over a week ago, we actually just released a full new line of AI capabilities.
What you were saying earlier is you have a lot of clients that prefer to have that personal touch responding. They want a real human behind it. And that’s what I recommend everybody does — I think having that real, true personal touch can just make it so much more impactful in the mind of the reviewer, whether they’re leaving a positive or a negative review.
With this new line of AI capabilities, we’ve kind of upgraded that response feature, integrating it with a large language model similar to ChatGPT. It can give you that human-like response. It can actually analyze what the review says and provide a response based on what they said, not just a templated response for a two-star, three-star, or five-star review.
It’s a really, really cool tool — and that’s just one aspect of it.
We’ve also got a feature where AI can edit or review responses that you’ve already written, as well as translate responses into a different language. If someone writes a review in Spanish or French, you can respond in Spanish or French.
It’s really cool. But, anyway, it looks like we are nearing the end of our time and I wanted to get to one last question before we end here.
So, Bill, the question we’ve got is: What strategies have worked best for you for increasing the value of your practices?
Bill: So, I think we’ve hit on a couple of these things a few times now. Leveraging automation is key, really, in order to drive the results and in order to get to scale.
Humans are wonderful. We’ve got a number of clients that try to do other things in their office. There might be signs at the checkout desk, posters on the wall… We have one client that even had iPads available at the checkout desk in case people wanted to leave a review right then and there.
All that is wonderful, but it’s leveraging the automation in the Birdeye platform that is really key.
Educating your key stakeholders is also critical, and that’s a mistake we made early on. It’s easy to assume that everyone just understands how all this stuff works, and away we go.
It’s remarkable the conversations you find yourself in. Just for example — we joke about it now, but — the negative review scenario. The owner gets a negative review and comes back and says, “Hey, okay, we got a negative review. You’ve got to edit that review. You’ve got to take it down.”
And then we’ve got to politely explain, “Yeah, that’s not how this works, man.”
So, it’s a lot of education around how we can turn that around and empower practices to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Others who might come to the site are going to see the level of engagement practices have with their reviewers. In the end, it’s a good thing.
You save a lot of energy, churn, and non-productive time if you can work with the stakeholders right up front, provide a baseline education, and explain how the whole thing is likely to go.Bill Riley
Justin: That’s awesome. That’s a great answer.
Well, it does look like that is all the time that we have for today. Thank you so much, Bill, for taking the time to sit down with us and share your thoughts with the audience. And thank you, everyone here, for tuning in today.
If you’d like to learn more about how Birdeye can help automate your clients’ online reputation management strategies as well as make it scalable, email us anytime at email@example.com. And don’t forget to check out the latest AI capabilities that were just released on the Birdeye platform.
Thanks again, and we’ll see you next time.