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. According to the 2018 Online Reviews Survey by ReviewTrackers, approximately 45 percent of consumers say they are likely to check reviews on Yelp before even visiting a business. For Google reviews, it’s closer to 64 percent.

As a small veterinary practice, how do you encourage the kind of reviews that people want to see? We’ve compiled a few steps on how to encourage 5-star reviews from your clients.

Step 1: Provide Review-Worthy Service

This step is integrated into every aspect of your client’s journey to your hospital, from the initial Google search, all the way to the appointment reminder a year later. The trick is to ensure that every experience your client has when they’re in contact with your hospital is a review-worthy experience.

While this may seem like a no-brainer, ensuring your customer service stays consistent across all clients is essential to limiting as many negative reviews as possible. Time and attention are needed to ensure that your entire team practice great customer service on a consistent basis.

These are a few simple actions you can do to provide great customer service:

  • Be attentive and friendly on the phone
  • Greet everyone as they come in and ask how you can help
  • At checkout, ask the client about their visit
  • Greet clients and patients by name, if possible
  • Have treats or toys ready for patients
  • Be friendly and smile – the simple gesture of looking happy can help people feel more welcome
  • Have nice, pleasant music playing in the waiting room

According to a study done by Inc., only one in 10 customers who have a good experience will leave a good review. Clients EXPECT a good experience, so you’ll have to go above and beyond to create an exceptional experience, instead of just an average one. Reminding your customers to review is important, and can both maintain a loyal client-base as well as bring new clients into your hospital.

People are more likely to review an establishment poorly when service is bad than review at all when a service is good. Customers who have had a bad experience with a business are two to three times more likely to write an angry review than a content customer.  

>> RELATED READING: 5 Fixes to Make Your Veterinary Clinic Client-Centric <<

Step 2: Ask How Service Was BEFORE They Post Online

One of the easiest ways to prevent bad reviews from popping up is to address issues before they head over to a review site a few days later. To do this, we highly recommend proactively checking in with your clients after their visit. Here are a few options on how to do this:

Discuss their appointment experience at check-out

When your client is checking out with a customer service representative, use this time  as an opportunity to ask how the appointment went or if they have any other requests that you can resolve. Asking your clients before they leave is the perfect opportunity to turn a customer around if they’re having issues with anything. 

When they’re almost done checking out, remind them to leave a review on Yelp or Google. Since customers often forget to review establishments after a good experience, just a quick reminder from a friendly member of your team can be enough to push them to review your practice.  

Follow up with a check-up call a day or two after appointments

If a client’s pet is taking new medication or just updated a vaccination, it’s often a good idea to check up on them after the appointment, regardless of how the appointment went. This gives the client a chance to talk to you about any questions and to see if the patient is having any adverse reactions to medications or vaccinations, so potential risky situations are caught in their early stages (if there are any).

While you’re on the phone with them, simply ask the client how the appointment went or if there are things the clinic could do better. Most of the time the answer is no, but this is still a good opportunity to resolve issues that may have come up. If there was an issue, it may be easier for your client to discuss it over the phone.

Follow up with a survey via email or mobile app

If your staff spends a large amount of time on the phone, digitizing some of that work can help create a good client experience. For example, instead of following up with a phone call after a visit, send them a simple email survey instead!

You can easily accomplish this by using digital client communication tools. The PetDesk Online Reviews & Reputation Tool gives clinics the opportunity to send clients a quick one question survey regarding their visit. This Net Promoter Score survey goes directly to their PetDesk app or email, which makes it easy to fill out, and in turn, lets you see their responses before they can post to a forum. Then you can directly contact clients with a less than perfect experience before they have a chance to leave a negative review.

Step 3: Follow Up for Good Reviews

If you’ve noticed from the first two steps, proactively discussing situations with your clients before they leave a review is crucial. However, we also know that people who had a positive experience are less likely to leave a review. So how can clinics encourage happy clients to leave good reviews?

Similar to following up with the Net Promoter Score survey mentioned earlier, you can do the same with positive reviews. When you receive high rating Net Promoter Score surveys, thank the client and direct them to either Google or Yelp to share positive reviews! If you make it simple for people to review, they are more likely to help by sharing their experiences.

Be sure to follow all of the guidelines provided by these online review sites. For example, Yelp has strict guidelines around offering people incentives in exchange for positive reviews. You can mitigate this by providing your clients friendly reminders, whether that’s verbally or in person with flyers or other displays.

Step 4: Repeat with ALL Clients

Consistency is key! If you engrain these specific practices into your veterinary staff’s daily routine, the number of positive Yelp and Google reviews will grow. Train your staff to follow up with your customers regularly, responding to both good and bad reviews. The longer that you practice this, the more reviews you will see.

Make sure to keep track of your online reviews when you start implementing a new review strategy. To easily track and monitor your progress use the SMART goal framework, which is available within our FREE Digital Marketing 101 course for veterinary professionals.

Parting thoughts

It’s important to remember that growth is not instantaneous. Receiving a few reviews a month is far better than no reviews at all. We highly recommend tracking progress so that you can easily see how much process adjustments can affect change within your clinic. With more positive reviews, you’ll get more new customers, an increase in traffic to your website, and higher SEO rankings.

If you’re interested in learning more about amplifying your digital marketing strategy, download our Digital Marketing Course for veterinary practices by signing up down below.

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