Great musicians and public speakers can incorporate audience feedback on the fly to help shape their performance. For medical and surgical practices, the process looks rather different.
Gathering feedback happens in a few ways: by providing an avenue for someone to share opinions, by actively asking for feedback, and by going out to find feedback that’s already been shared with a different audience.
Provide Ways to Give Feedback
In many cases, your audience wants to communicate with you. Make it easier on them.
1. Contact Form
Ah, the good old contact form. The standard for collecting information on your website. While site visitors certainly know what to do with the form, you should be sure to provide enough instructions so that people will know that this is a viable means of communication. Let them know when you’ll respond. Provide a dropdown menu to help direct the inquiry to the right department. Give your visitors confidence whenever possible. Help Scout does a great job of covering the specifics of contact forms.
2. Phone Number
If you’re a local practice, a phone number is a must. Many people do not want to write an email — especially if they have a quick question. They want a person on the phone as soon as possible to help.
Providing a comment field allows your audience to respond to a blog post to either ask questions or to give an opinion on the subject. Comment fields do not make sense for every type of medical practice, but some practices benefit greatly from them.
4. Social Media
Social media is not just a broadcasting platform. It’s meant for interaction. Be sure to let your website visitors know that you are on their favorite networks and that you will respond to their questions.
1. Comment Prompts
Yes, I know I mentioned comment fields before, but this tactic is separate from just having a comment section. Do what you can to help engage readers in conversation. Ask them for their opinions. Ask if they have any other ways of completing the task you describe in your post. People have opinions, and they are willing to share them.
One note: You can engage readers in this form of communication either on your blog or on a designated spot in social media. Several notable blogs have adapted this form of interaction. (See Copyblogger and Michael Hyatt.)
2. Trusted Advisors
One overlooked way of getting good feedback is to send your materials to the people that will help you improve. It’s one thing to get feedback from a patient and quite another from an expert in your field. This is a huge way to improve on a regular basis.
Surveys are so simple and affordable to implement these days that they’re a no-brainer from a technical standpoint. The harder part is knowing what you want to ask your audience. Keep the survey short and simple to improve your response rate.
Also, Seth Godin’s article about interpreting your data is especially helpful once those results come rolling in.
4. Q&A chats (Twitter / G+ hangouts)
Q&A chats are great if your audience is responsive enough to show up there. The last thing you want to do is set up a time to only hear crickets. Plan out your chat times. Make sure your audience knows about it, and invite a few loyal fans along to ensure the conversation gets started on the right foot.
5. Forums / Groups on your favorite channels
Online forums seem like a dead tactic from the past, but they are still around. In many cases, they have taken the form of groups on social media networks. Groups make more sense for a lot of practices, but keep testing the best methods for you.
6. Email Marketing
Email marketing provides a fantastic way to request feedback from the inner circle of your audience. These patients have already shown that they trust you enough to invite you into their inboxes. Their feedback is invaluable, and your request for feedback will make them feel like they are helping to shape the message you create.
Go Find the Feedback
1. Social Media Customer Service / Response
Set up searches for your practice’s name on social media services and interact with people who talk about you. There will be positive and negative, but your interaction shows that you are concerned with how your customers / readers regard your service.
2. Online Reviews
It’s amazing how few medical practices take the time to engage in online reviews. Social media takes a more active effort to be able to respond quickly enough, but online reviews allow for more flexibility in terms of response times. Set a repeatable alert to go check reviews once a week. Respond to the positives and the negatives. Let people know that you care.
3. Analytics / A/B Testing
Studying your Analytics is a great way to study user-behavior. While people may tell you that they would rather read one type of article over another, the traffic charts will show you what people are actually willing to read.
Take it a step further with A/B testing to be able to measure feedback at a more granular level than you can with Analytics. A/B testing is especially useful in tweaking small communication factors to see what creates the greatest response.
What about You?
Have a favorite method for collecting feedback? Do you use another method not listed here? Let us know in the comments below. Or on social. Or, you know, whatever works best for you.