Online reviews are becoming more common than ever before. People are turning to sites like Yelp and Google to share their experiences with businesses they’ve interacted with. This is great news for businesses, but it can be scary too—especially if you’re a new business looking to grow your clientele. After all, there’s no telling who might leave a bad review about your business once they know it won’t hurt their feelings by leaving an anonymous one. 

But what can you do to help improve the validity of online reviews so that people don’t just leave them because they’re not happy? Here are some tips on how you can handle online reviews in your veterinary practice:

Be Transparent About How You Handle Online Reviews

Being transparent about how you handle online reviews is crucial for two reasons. 

Gives Customers Confidence to Leave Review

The first is that it gives people the confidence in leaving reviews that they need to do so. Many people will only leave reviews if they’re sure their experience will be positive, and being transparent about your review policy will help you build trust in those leaving reviews. It’ll also help you discern which online reviews are genuine and which are just because they’re frustrated with the business. 

Protects Your Practice

The second reason for being transparent about how you handle reviews is that it protects your practice from lawsuits. If a client is unhappy with a review, they may be tempted to file a lawsuit against the business where the review was left. Companies who are sued over reviews may have to pay out significant damages and penalties, so it’s important to protect yourself if you can. If you’re not sure how to be transparent about how you handle reviews, start small. 

Let clients know where their reviews are posted, and let them know that you’d be happy to respond to their feedback if they’d like to reach out to you. You can also create a feedback request form on your practice website so that clients who want to leave feedback can easily get in touch with you.

Respond To Online Reviews In A Sensitive Manner

Depending on how your practice is set up, you may be able to respond to some reviews straight on Yelp or Google. Be careful when replying to reviews, though—if you respond in a way that’s too mean or defensive, you may be opening yourself up to a lawsuit. Simply replying, “Thank you! We appreciate your feedback. We will definitely consider it,” will give you room to correct misinformation in reviews or provide more information about the practice. 

If you can’t respond to online reviews on Google or Yelp, you may still be able to respond to them through email, social media, or in person. Be sure to keep your messages respectful, though—you don’t want to make your clients defensive or annoyed. Instead, respond to the review with helpful facts, corrections to misinformation, and a bit about the practice.

Ask For Honest Feedback From Your Clients

If you’re not sure how to ask for honest feedback from your clients, start small. You can ask clients for honest reviews on your practice website and in your communications with them. You can also let clients know that you’d love to hear from them about their experiences with your practice.

Make Sure That All of Your Social Media Profiles are Active and Up-To-Date

If you do decide to respond to online reviews, make sure that your social media profiles are up to date and that you’re posting regularly. You want to show clients that you’re actively listening to their feedback and providing a solution.

If a client leaves a review on Yelp or Google, try responding to it as soon as you can. You don’t want to have to spend time responding to a review that you could have responded to immediately in the first place. If you have to spend time and energy responding to a review that you could have otherwise responded to immediately, it’s not a good use of your resources.

Stay Focused on the Good Online Reviews You’ll Receive

One of the most important things that you can do to improve the validity of online reviews is to stay focused on the good ones you’ll receive. The vast majority of reviews you’ll get will be positive ones. While it’d be great if you could receive a handful of overwhelmingly positive reviews, you’re more likely to receive a few mixed reviews than a lot of them. The goal is to try your best to respond to every review that you’ll receive. 

Keep track of how you respond to reviews on a social media platform like Google or Yelp, so that you can use that information to improve your response process in the future. You want to make sure that you’re actually responding to online reviews—and not simply pressing a button to acknowledge them.

Create a Response Strategy for Your Online Reviews

A response strategy can help you respond to online reviews in a way that’s both respectful and helpful. You can simply decide on a strategy and use it for all of your responses. A response strategy doesn’t have to be complex, either—it can simply be a set of guidelines that you follow while responding to reviews. 

Here are a few of the things you can include in your response strategy: What types of reviews you’ll respond to, what you’ll say when you respond, where you’ll respond, and whether or not you’ll respond in-person or online.

Respond To Reviews In A Timely Manner

If you decide to post a response to reviews, make sure it’s posted in a timely manner. If a client leaves a review on Yelp or Google that you’d like to respond to, you want to make sure that you post your response as soon as possible. If you’re not able to post a response that same day, try posting a response the next day.

Final Thoughts

Online reviews are a great way for clients to leave feedback about their experiences with your veterinary practice. As long as you follow these tips, you should be able to protect your practice from any online reviews that are less than kind.

The best way to ensure that you give stellar reviews is to stay focused on the good ones that you receive, respond to reviews in a timely manner, and make sure that you respond to reviews in a respectful, helpful way. The more that you focus on the good reviews, the less likely you’ll be to worry about the bad ones.