Reviews play a significant role in the online reputation of businesses today, and veterinary clinics are no exception. In fact, our industry is one of the most heavily impacted by reviews, because people want to know whether they can trust us to care for their cherished animal companions. That being said, one bad review can send would-be clients straight into the arms of a waiting competitor. While there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll never receive a negative comment, there are certain measures you can take to proactively lower that risk. Here’s what we recommend.
Provide Exceptional Service
This one should go without saying, but it’s absolutely essential so it must be listed. Keeping your clients happy should be at the very heart of everything you do. But that’s not enough. Exceeding their expectations is even better. And providing exceptional service isn’t just the job of one or two employees, either. It should be integrated right into your practice culture, and something that every team member strives to achieve. When you go above and beyond to wow your clientele, you can expect plenty of positive feedback in return.
Oftentimes the reason a person leaves a negative online review is because they feel unheard. Most people will make at least some effort to reach out and voice their issues first, before heading to the World Wide Web. If they don’t receive the type of response they’re looking for, they may feel as though they have no other choice than to express their frustration and warn others publicly. By making yourself accessible and being willing to hear someone out, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to resolve the issue at hand before it escalates to an online forum for all to see.
In addition to feeling unheard, when a person feels as though they’re being brushed off or avoided, they’re far more likely to share their grievances with others. Even if an issue seems trivial to you, that doesn’t mean it’s not of great importance to the person raising the concern. When a negative experience is brought to your attention, no matter how big or small it may seem, take action right away, whether it be opening a dialogue or swiftly correcting the issue at hand. Show your clients that what matters to them, matters to you as well.
Make it Personal
As a practice owner or practice manager, you undoubtedly have a very busy schedule – especially if you are also a practicing DVM. While it may be tempting to either hand off the task of responding to complaints to someone else on your team, or worse – use a cookie-cutter templated response, doing so might only make an already contentious situation even worse. Resist this urge and keep your responses personalized. It may take a bit more of your precious time, but with your professional reputation at stake, the sacrifice will be well worth it.
Learn from Your Mistakes
Try as we might, we all sometimes miss the mark. When something goes wrong in your practice, embrace that as a valuable learning experience. Be open-minded and willing to evolve. Even if you end up losing a client or two in the process, the positive changes you’ll make as a result will help you better serve people in the future, which will lead to a greater retention rate over the long haul. Admit when you’ve made a mistake, learn from it, correct what’s wrong and move forward.
While it’s nearly impossible to completely prevent any type of negative review from being posted about your clinic online, there are some things you can do to make these incidents less likely to occur. By implementing the five strategies above, you’ll have a much better chance of keeping your clients happy and your stellar online reputation intact.