Veterinarians take an oath, they solemnly swear to use their knowledge and skills to protect animal health and relieve suffering. All veterinarians know this, technicians know this, the whole clinic team knows this.

Enter the World of Client Reviews

In the past, reviews were conversations between friends and family. You would hope that their negative feedback would somehow find you so you could remedy the situation, or you would be pleasantly surprised to see a referral walk into the clinic with their new pet. With online reviews, your reputation, your character, and your clinic are the subject of a public conversation. Obviously, this is a big shift. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to online reviews, most people will not share their frustration with you before they take to sites like Google and Yelp. Everyone knows how much reviews can impact a business, and that power is why they can be so scary. But overall, the shift has enabled great clinics to appear even greater. For instance, many business owners believe people only write negative reviews, but Yelp boasts 78% of its reviews at 3 stars or higher; 50% of which are 5 stars. However, anything less than 5 stars can be a blow, especially understanding the degree of care, compassion, and empathy required every day when practicing veterinary medicine.

What’s a clinic to do with their feedback? Embrace it! Reviews are here to stay. Over 86% of consumers are reading reviews for local businesses before becoming a customer, and a client searching for the best veterinarian for their new puppy will consult Google and Yelp first. If you’re interested in knowing, and hopefully influencing, what new clients think about your practice before they walk in the door, then look no further than Yelp and Google. 

An All Too Common Scenario

Negative reviews can often be caused by differing perceptions about a situation that occurred during their visit. The following is an example of how this can happen:

A client rushes in, and their pet is clearly in discomfort. Luckily, an exam room is open and you’re able to see them right away. While inspecting their baby, the dog lets out a “yelp!”. At that moment, the owner, not understanding what is happening, interprets this as aggression and even incompetence on your part. You have been taught and know that communication is vital to practicing quality medicine, so you promptly explain why the client’s dog made the sound.

After your assessment, you provide your diagnosis, recommendations, and dispense the required medications. You see them to the front door, wave goodbye, and then feel a sense of relief. Another pet well cared for and on its way to recovery. Time to go on with your day and see more patients.

Within hours, you find out there’s been a review written saying how “aggressive” you were with a client’s pet and “how could anyone be happy with you being a veterinarian.”

These words sting! You decide to call the client and try to understand their concerns. Your call goes to voicemail and you never hear from that pet parent again. The review remains for any and everyone to read.

What You Can Do

This story plays out at even the best clinic. That doesn’t mean you should leave the negative review unacknowledged. Taking a few minutes every day can make a huge difference in the reputation of your practice. Over 70% of people will come back, change their negative review or recommend you when you take action and acknowledge them.

Communication is key, and you can mitigate a lot of misunderstandings that could occur by ensuring that you are clear and thorough in your explanations. When the inevitable happens and someone leaves a negative review of your practice, you can still improve the situation. Responding to negative reviews is another way to communicate and clear up any misunderstandings that your clients may have.

Want to see how you can best prepare? Check out our best practices on handling online reviews:

Dog lying in the street with a medical cone.

How to Handle Bad Online Reviews

The goal is to achieve a 5-star rating as possible, but bad reviews are inevitable. The most important thing is that you and your team are equipped with a strong strategy for handling these reviews.

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How to Get More 5-Star Reviews

When considering a new establishment, whether it’s a new restaurant or a hairdresser, chances are you look up reviews and opinions about the business first. How do you encourage the kind of reviews that people want to see?

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