Have you ever read a healthcare blog that does not allow comments?
Did it make you feel inspired to come back and read it again, or share it with your friends?
The problem with many corporate healthcare blogs is fear of what people might say. What if they leave a negative comment? What if they say something that violates HIPAA? Can we delete it? They are so anxious about what could go wrong in the comment section of their blog that they either turn all comments off, or create ridiculous roadblocks that discourage readers from commenting e.g. “captcha” or ‘log in to comment’ features.
These features succeed in making their blog look distant and unapproachable but even worse they kill any chance of building and cultivating relationships with future patients. Here are 5 ways to inspire patient relationships with blog comments.
#1. Invite readers to share their opinions
A blog is not the place for one-sided conversations (if you can even call that a conversation). People expect blogs (healthcare or otherwise) to accomodate their opinions and feedback whether positive, negative or neutral.
Don’t be afraid of what people might say. Rather invite them to share their thoughts and make them feel at home when they do. The best way to invite readers to share their opinions is to conclude your blog article with a question like this:
“Over to you: What do you think about blah, blah, blah…?” Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.”
#2. Ask more questions
If you sense from a reader’s comment that she is having trouble with something you said in your blog, instead of simply answering the question and moving on, prod further and ask whether your answer has clarified the issue.
Keep in mind that asking deeper questions shows that you care and that you’re interested in solving the reader’s problem. Isn’t this how you would engage with a patient at your practice? Why not show the same courtesy to your readers and see how positively they respond to you.
#3. Use reader’s names
In his book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ Dale Carnegie said the following:
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
When a reader comments on your blog use his first name (if available) when responding to the question. Using someone’s name is powerful because it makes them feel special and connected to you.
#4. Show empathy
One of the greatest needs we have as human beings is the need to be understood. Even when someone leaves a negative comment on your blog it’s not always that they’re out to cause trouble. Rather they might have a serious issue that is causing them anxiety and this is the only way they know how to share their pain or frustration.
Unless a comment clearly violates hospital policy or HIPAA don’t be too quick to push the delete button. Try to understand what is causing the reader’s frustration and ask yourself how you can help them and even win them over.
#5. Recognize returning readers
Remember ‘Cheers’ – the TV show from the 80’s? As the lyric goes, “sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name…”
If you notice a returning reader on your blog, be sure to give them extra recognition and mention how nice it is to see them again. This is an excellent way to make them feel like they belong to your online community. You can be sure that readers will always go where they feel liked and valued.
Your turn. How do you inspire patient relationships with your blog comments? Please share your experiences in the comment box below.