Many practice owners we talk with have the same thorn in their side: negative online reviews. Owners and managers are concerned that those 3-star and below reviews are driving potential customers away and giving them a bad reputation. No one is quite sure whether or not it’s worth their time to respond either. It’s true that here in 2020, online reviews matter, and do influence potential-client decision making. After all, a whopping 76% of consumers who read online reviews trust them as much as recommendations from family and friends. Said another way, 76% of consumers trust strangers on the internet as much as their own family members. The social commentary in that statement aside here’s an essential truth: you could be running your practice perfectly, your client experience could be worthy of a RACE-approved CE session at VMX, and you’ll still get a negative review every now and again.
So what actually matters when it comes to online reviews?
- The recency of the review: Did you know that 84% of consumers believe that reviews older than 3 months are irrelevant? And 61% of consumers aged 18-34 are only impacted by reviews within 2 weeks. So “millennial” of them! Needless to say, you can stop worrying about that scathing review you received two summers ago. As far as potential clients are concerned, it’s old news.
- Did you respond?: 97% of consumers who read reviews report also reading responses to reviews. This is something that doesn’t take a lot of time and can pay dividends. Should you respond to that negative review? Yes, if possible. And when you do, empathize with the client; if possible, try to address the problem head-on while explaining “your side”, and; then add a personalized call to action: “Please call us and ask for our Practice Manager, Molly, so we can further understand what we could have done better.” And most importantly, leave it at that. The worst thing you can do is engage in a he-said/she-said in the comments section of your reviews.
- Star rating and the number of reviews: The top 3 things consumers look for when reading online reviews are:
- Overall Star Rating
- Quantity of Reviews
When it comes to online reviews, your time is best spent continuing to generate positive reviews, and not worrying too much about the few negative reviews that come in from time to time. Respond to negative reviews, and then move on from them. Before long, they’ll no longer be relevant, and if you’re spending your time and resources generating positive reviews, they’ll soon be buried by glowing reports from happy pet owners.
How a veterinary practice marketing consultant could help…
Understandably, online reviews are the biggest source of anxiety for most veterinary practices. To help refocus your efforts around online reputation and the initiatives that come along with that, our team of veterinary practice marketing consultants created a simple “playbook” of best practices that any animal hospital can deploy on its own. To learn more about our Online Reputation Audit Playbook, click here.