How to Handle the Influx of Negative Reviews
Everyone seems stressed out these days since COVID-19 has made life harder for just about everyone except for maybe cats and dogs.
Your veterinary team might feel tired, overworked, and anxious as an essential worker during a health crisis. Your clients are stressed because their pets are injured or ill, their finances could be tighter than ever, and now they have to wait in their cars for hours with limited communication from the veterinarian and vet techs. Do you see how this is just a recipe for disaster? That is why it is crucial to listen to, respond to, and learn from negative reviews.
Review and Respond to Each and Every Online Review
Responding to reviews is a successful online reputation management tactic that each veterinary practice should implement. However, we understand how difficult it can be when a practice manager is stretched thin. But monitoring and responding to online reviews is critical because:
- It shows all readers of the posts that you care, you are listening, and you are interested in engaging with your clients (Not just the person who posted it)
- It gives you an opportunity to move the harmful and awful reviews offline as quickly as possible (Tips on how to do so below)
- They might highlight some areas of weakness at your practice
- A negative review might be a misunderstanding and requires the practice manager to reach out and talk to the client
- You realize how your clientele is treating your staff
- Positive reviews can be used as testimonials on your website or as inspiring social media posts
How to Respond to The Haters
We are going back to the basics on how to respond to the good, the bad, and the ugly. Before you publish a response to an online review, you should:
- Always investigate – never respond to a bad review without finding out more information
- Look up the case and client information in your practice management system
- Speak with the attending veterinarian, vet techs, and front office staff
- Gather all the information and draft a response
- Depending on the situation, you might want to reach out to the client before posting the response
A good response will politely acknowledge the complaint, explain the situation briefly, and offer a solution or an apology. The goal is to recognize the complaint, move the conversation offline, and not argue with the client. Again, the response is not necessarily for the reviewer but for other readers and potential clients. Therefore, it is essential to appear calm, professional, caring, and kind in your online review responses.
Here are a few examples from some of our outstanding clients:
We understand that wait times can be stressful for you and your pet. We appreciate your understanding of our triage system where the most severe cases are seen first. It is our goal to always provide ample time for each pet and their family while working as efficiently as possible.
It always disappoints us when we hear we let down one of our clients. We are sorry that our team did not provide timely updates to you during your visit. This can happen during our peak hours and is something we are working hard to improve. I will be sharing your feedback and utilizing it as a learning opportunity for our entire team.
Regrettably, we missed you when we called to check on Zeppie. We hope he has made a full recovery and is back to himself.
Thank you again for your time and feedback. It is very valuable to us.
Acknowledging The Stress and Missteps
Thank you for the kind words about our hardworking staff. We love Sasha and we hope she is feeling better at home.
We appreciate your patience, understanding, and kindness during these challenging times. In the last few months, we have seen an increase in urgent cases on top of heightened stress of operating during a pandemic.
Unfortunately, our new normal has led to many changes in safety protocols, phone/online communication, and a slower response rate for online reviews. We are working our hardest each day to keep everyone safe while still providing the gold standard of care.
Thank you again for acknowledging that we are doing our absolute best for you and your pet!
Learn From Reviews and Make Adjustments
Do not brush off every bad review as ‘crazy’ because these reviews might be telling you something you didn’t know. That is why it is essential to analyze and assess online reviews to learn what needs to be approved upon at your practice.
At the end of each month, take a look at all the reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other online review sites and see if there is a trend.
If you are noticing more reviews are complaining about a lack of communication, it might indicate that your team isn’t communicating enough with clients, and you might need to change how often you call pet parents while they wait in their cars. Or if you continue to receive bad customer service reviews, your team might need a morale booster to help keep them going during these difficult times. Please do not ignore the negativity, but learn from it.
Promote Kindness and Patience to Your Clients
You can professionally and subtly let your pet parents know the increased pressure and stress that your staff is under during this challenging time. Implement a Kindness Campaign, including:
- Create social media posts asking for patience as your practice adjusts your intake protocols
- Acknowledge your pet owners’ pain points (long wait-times, waiting in cars)
- Update your COVID-19 online protocols with requests that clients are patient, understanding and kind to the staff
- Highlight positive reviews, case studies, and team members that are going above and beyond
Publicly acknowledging the stress your team is under and how your practice is doing it’s absolute best can help create empathy and kindness with your clientele.
Here at BluePrints, we want to offer our sincere gratitude and thanks to all the incredible and hardworking veterinary teams helping animals each and every day. You are loved, appreciated, and applauded for your tireless efforts and the care that you bestow on your furry, feathery, and scaly patients. We thank you all very much, and we hope that this blog post will help you not only endure these challenging times but be able to conquer and rise above the negative reviews.
If you need additional assistance with your online reputation management, we are here to help!