There’s a reputation you want. The one you dreamed of having when you began your home care company. Then there is your reputation online, a not-so-nice one lurking unnoticed by you, yet seen by everyone else. Is your online reputation driving potential clients and caregivers into your arms, or running for the hills?

It’s true. There is only so much of your reputation you can influence. You can control what goes on your website, what you post on your blog and social media, and the quality of your customer service and the care you provide. But there are some things you may feel you just cannot control. Yet, negative reviews online can spread like wildfire. One less-than-satisfied customer can do a lot of damage to your online reputation, especially on review and referral sites.

Perception is Reality and My Perception of You Is Questionable

Some companies, knowing this fact, make the miscalculation of avoiding referral sites altogether. The “stick your head in the sand” approach. BIG mistake. You can use sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, and Caring.com to your advantage in order to better manage your home care agency’s online and real-life reputation. And let’s face it, your online reputation is your real-life reputation. So where should you begin?

3 Steps to Improve Your Online (Real) Reputation

  1. Claim your online identity. The first step is to claim your identity, your profile on these sites. This allows you to authenticate yourself, provide credibility, and add all of your business information. By adding contact information, your website URL , services and even pricing, you are helping referral site users more easily find the information they need. And you are preventing them from taking their business elsewhere because they aren’t convinced your home care agency is , or even in business. Another benefit of claiming your business profile is that some sites allow you to pay to be featured prominently on the site, and help you offer special discounts and deals to site users, which may further entice them to work with you or for you.
  2. Start communicating with customers. Now that you’ve given referral sites correct, updated information, you can move forward in managing your online reputation. Most sites allow you to communicate with your customers directly on the site. This means that you can receive direct inquiries and questions through referral sites, so it is crucial that you do not leave referral sites by the wayside after you customize your profile. Be sure to check these sites for messages, and be as prompt and helpful as you would be with any other customer that would call on the phone or visit your office. Also be sure to monitor your reviews. While good reviews are ideal, the poor ones create an opportunity for you to reach out to dissatisfied customers to make things right. There’s a chance that if you help the dissatisfied clients, they may edit their review, or take it down altogether. And remember, other people are watching, and when they see you respond to a negative review in a kind and helpful way they will be impressed with your integrity and honesty.
  3. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews. It may seem so obvious you wonder why you hadn’t been doing it already. Your caregivers and other employees are on the front line and they know of, and often hear, success stories for your clients. Stories of happy clients and happy families. Create a formal process to capture those positive stories and share them among your team. Don’t forget to create a method to encourage the happy recipient to leave an online review.

Referral sites can be an excellent source for generating leads and referrals, but can also be a challenge to the reputation of your home care agency. A small misstep for your business can be totally blown out of proportion online. But don’t fret, you do have the option to take control of your referral site profiles and work directly with customers and potential customers to make their experience with you as easy and satisfying as possible.

By being present on such sites, you are showing customers that you take pride in your work and take responsibility to provide the best services possible. Even if not every client interaction is perfect (and not all of them are), your good intentions and presence do a lot to boost your reputation.

Do you already have this in place at your company?  We would be happy to hear your success stories, or even your fails. We all learn together!