Veterinarian Reputation Management: How to Respond to Negative ReviewsPosted: April 9, 2021 - By Melody Gandy-Bohr
Positive word-of-mouth reviews can bring in new clients. Before the Internet, people relied on friends, family, and neighbors for business referrals. Today, they rely on opinions from your client’s online reviews. In fact, many people choose veterinary practices based on online ratings and reviews. You need to do all you can to cultivate a positive reputation online. For this reason, veterinarian reputation management is critical.
Unfortunately, every business experiences negative reviews, no matter how hard they focus on delivering quality service. Mishaps and miscommunications happen. And online users won’t hesitate to share their opinions online.
What should your veterinary practice do about negative online reviews? Be sure to monitor your online reputation across various review sites. Whenever you spot a negative review, know the best practices on how to respond. Also, make it a habit to request reviews from satisfied customers to ensure more positive reviews get posted online.
Monitor Your Online Reputation
Online business listings are important for helping potential clients make informed decisions. Don’t simply claim your business listings online. Go the extra mile and check these sites regularly to stay informed about your practice’s online reputation and take action on any negative reviews.
What sites should you monitor? Facebook is a major source for reviews, which are tied to user profiles. Since Facebook users typically use their real names, it should be easy for you to identify and address any fake reviews on the social network. Another important source for reviews is Google My Business. Keeping an eye on these reviews is critical as your reputation on Google ties directly to your search engine rankings.
Other sites to monitor include Yelp and the Next Door app. Both aim to provide feedback on small and local businesses, so are important spaces to maintain a positive presence.
Respond to Negative Reviews
Another key component of veterinarian reputation management is responding to reviews—both positive and negative. Even if you receive a positive review that is only a few words long, a simple “thank you” shows online users that you care about clients. It also shows that you care about delivering quality service.
Of course, responding to good reviews is an easier task than handling negative reviews. Your first instinct may be to avoid poor feedback or argue your case. But those approaches are never good solutions and don’t read well on public forums. By following a few proven best practices, you can master the art of responding to negative reviews.
Share Personalized Responses
It’s tempting to have a few scripted responses that you use routinely. But that practice can make you appear disengaged or disinterested in clients and their experiences—which can reflect poorly on your business. Instead, respond in a way that shows you’ve read the review and understand the reviewer’s point of view.
Reference the reviewer by name and directly comment on an issue they raised in the review. If possible, ask the reviewer to move the conversation to a private space to further address the issue. That way, you’ll show the reviewer that their thoughts matter and resolve the matter privately on your terms.
For many users, leaving an online review is a way to “vent” about a poor experience. They may not be expecting their feedback to be heard or acknowledged. After all, many reviews—both positive and negative—go unanswered.
Aim to respond to reviews within a day. Yes, this can be a time-consuming task, but it’s critical for veterinarian reputation management. Set aside a few minutes each day to examine your online review sites—and respond to both positive and negative reviews.
Don’t leave negative reviews untouched for long. A single negative review can sometimes provoke others to share negative feedback that can harm your online reputation.
Acknowledge the Reviewer’s Perspective and Take Responsibility
Some negative online reviews raise valid points, but others may seem to have little merit. No matter the content, you should treat reviewers with courtesy. Tell each reviewer that you appreciate the time they took to leave the review and share their perspective.
Affirm your commitment to service and acknowledge the reviewer’s concerns. Let the reviewer know you’ve taken the feedback to heart and will strive to keep improving.
Never react defensively. Let’s examine the following scenario. You have a new client whose usual veterinarian is unavailable. After the visit, the client complains online that you suggested too many costly tests that their regular vet would never recommend.
Instead of getting defensive about your practice and care standards, thank them for visiting your practice. Let them know that you always strive to be clear about care recommendations and pricing, but misunderstandings happen. Say that you appreciate their feedback and will use it to improve client communications going forward.
Communicate Next Steps
At times, you may need to handle a reviewer’s concerns personally. In those instances, make it easy for people to contact your veterinary practice. Give them a contact name, along with an email or phone, and encourage them to get in touch.
Never discuss personal situations or treatment plans in a public setting. Instead, encourage reviewers to reach out to you to address these issues privately.
Automate Review Collection to Build a Positive Online Reputation
A negative review doesn’t have to have a devastating effect on your veterinary practice. Responding with empathy and acknowledging opportunities to improve can show that you care about your clients and their furry companions.
Another way to counter the effects of negative reviews is by proactively collecting positive reviews. This sounds daunting, but software can streamline this important part of reputation management for veterinarians.
By implementing veterinary practice management software, you can send automated review requests to customers after visits or consultations. Clients can respond with ease, and you can publish the reviews you collect out to various review sites. With this approach, you can publish a steady stream of positive reviews about your practice and ensure you maintain a positive reputation online.
Mastering Veterinarian Reputation Management
Today, online review sites play a major role in helping every business win new clients. Users read online reviews before engaging with a new company. That’s why every veterinary clinic needs to pay careful attention to online reputation management.
Ideally, you should look at online review sites every day, and aim to respond to all reviews within 24 hours. Although you may be tempted to ignore negative reviews, you should give them special attention. The truth is, every person has had a poor experience with a business. But it is possible to turn those poor experiences into positive ones. Responding to negative reviews with care and empathy is a step in the right direction.
When responding to negative reviews, express appreciation for the feedback. Reaffirm your commitment to service but acknowledge that there is always room to grow.
When you follow these best practices, you’ll foster trust and positive sentiment. You’ll show that you take client concerns to heart and that you’re always striving to improve. Would-be clients won’t feel deterred by a negative review, but see that you truly work to make each experience a positive one. Without question, that devotion to client service is certain to motivate more people to engage with your practice.
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