We’ve spoken with many veterinary practice owners and managers who are stressed about their online reviews and how negative reviews pop up more than positive ones.
The animal care industry is unique compared to other businesses because of the emotional investment people have in their pets. This can lead to emotionally-charged bad reviews that are especially hurtful and damaging for your business.
Of course, the goal is to achieve as close to a 5-star rating as possible, but bad reviews are inevitable. No business, or person, is perfect and every once in a while there will be a client whose expectations are not met.
The most important thing that matters is that you and your team are equipped with a strong strategy for handling these reviews. We detail some best practices for handling those tough situations below.
Where to Monitor Reviews
There are a few different places online in which customers can submit reviews of your pet care business. Here are the online review sites that we recommend monitoring:
We recommend using Facebook as a tool to communicate with your customers because it’s the most popular social media site with over 1.74 billion daily active users. It’s an especially good tool for you as a business because you can easily identify customers based on the information within their profile.
Because Facebook displays an individual’s full name, this limits the probability of someone posting fake reviews for malicious reasons. In cases where this does happen, the easiest way to counteract it is to double check if that individual is actually a client at your business. If they are, you can proceed to deescalate the situation as you would normally. If you are unable to find them in your database, the best way to handle the situation is to mention that you were unable to find their information, and if they have any further issues they can contact you directly via phone.
Yelp is one of the first resources a consumer refers to before trying a new establishment. This makes it a strong tool for small business owners to take advantage of and to harness all of those individuals early on in their search for a new pet care business.
Yelp’s free features allow you to comment and respond to comments and reviews, in addition to monitoring your business traffic via the analytics page. This is a good way to see the demographics of the people who are searching for your business, which can help target specific segments of your audience. For example, Yelp can identify the users on your page by age, gender, and location. For example, if you see that women between the ages of 35 and 50 are visiting your page, you can use this information for selecting audiences for other platforms, such as Facebook advertising.
If you’re looking to increase your organic SEO (search engine optimization), listing your business on Google is an absolute necessity. Google rewards the businesses who have higher star ratings with a higher search ranking.
Because Google’s ratings are directly tied with your search ranking in Google, it makes receiving positive reviews that much more important. Consider customer behavior when creating your strategy: what is the first thing that someone does when they look for information on the internet? Usually, the answer is “Google it.” We suggest leaning into this strategy as much as possible.
NextDoor is a directory that’s verified based on a user’s address. The only people that are displayed in an individual’s feed are the people who live in the same designated neighborhood as the user.
This is a very powerful social networking tool for local pet care businesses to harness, as all of the reviews are tied to individuals who live within your neighborhood. We highly recommend monitoring this outlet because of how intimate the audience base is.
Best Practices for Responding to Reviews
When a customer leaves a review, they often don’t expect a response – they just need a place to air their grievances or let their opinions be heard. In fact, 48.3% of customers don’t expect a business to respond to their online review.
However, when you DO respond (to both good and bad reviews) customers are more likely to feel heard and valued. As a strong pet-centric business, aim to answer online reviews as quickly as possible – as soon as within the same day.
This can seem daunting with the thousands of other tasks that need to be accomplished, but there’s an easy way to get this done quickly. We recommend teaching multiple customer service representatives on how to handle online reviews so that you have more than one person working on it at one time. If multiple people take approximately 15 minutes every day to check on reviews, then it will be less likely that a review falls through the cracks.
Respond to the Good & Bad
Remember, most people are not expecting a response to their online reviews – so when you do respond to them, the reviewer will get a pleasant surprise with your response.
Responding to all reviews, even the ones that don’t have any text can be resolved with a simple “Thank you for taking the time to review!”
This indicates to other people who are searching through customer reviews that you genuinely care about your customers, and in turn, the quality of business that you provide for them.
While it may be easy to have a couple of canned responses to reviews, it’s important to treat every single review with care and personalization. Having a response that is exactly the same can come off as disinterested or impersonal, so make sure to give every review some individual attention.
If possible, take the time to respond to something unique that is mentioned in the review. For example, if a review talks about how nice the waiting room was, or how there was a lot of attention to detail during their appointment, be sure to mention that in your response. Even better, if they mention pet’s name, be sure to include that within your response.
Here’s a good example of a personalized response from a good review:
Get a Second Opinion
When it comes to pets, you’re talking about a part of the family, and this can cause pet parents to leave reviews that are extremely challenging to receive and respond to. Whenever one of these reviews comes in, take a step back and distance yourself from the situation for 10-15 minutes. It’s good to get some perspective on a situation – especially when something is very emotionally charged.
We recommend also getting a second pair of eyes on the response from someone who was not involved in the situation. By doing so, you can receive some unbiased feedback on how your message may be perceived.
Always avoid discussing specifics of a situation through online reviews. Instead, guide them towards a one-on-one setting via direct message so you can work through the situation personally. Then you can connect them to the right individual and work out the best course of action to resolve the issue.
Armed with these tactics and a new outlook on how to tackle online reviews your pet-centric business is ready to increase the number of positive reviews. Interested in learning more about how you can use proactive tactics to help your clients succeed? Download our free e-book: The Customer Success Guide for Veterinary Practices!
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