Social media provides great opportunities for veterinary practices to reach and educate clients and potential clients, but it also has a dark side. There used to be a “rule” that a happy customer told one person and an unhappy customer told 10. Those numbers have increased exponentially with social media (particularly for an unhappy customer), and a concerted effort can reach thousands or even tens of thousands. The Court of Public Opinion is available 24/7/365, and often favors the first one to share their side of the story.
When potential clients read online reviews, it’s not just the review that matters. Your veterinary practice’s response to the customer review can have as much, if not more, influence on the perception of your practice. Your potential clients know that unsatisfied people are more likely to vent their unhappiness, so they’ll often view negative reviews with skepticism. Your response to negative reviews can make or break your opportunity to attract new clients. How does your practice perform in that regard?
Don’t fear social media and review sites. Instead, view them as opportunities to build your veterinary practice and effectively communicate with current and potential clients. The AVMA and the Partners for Healthy Pets (of which AVMA is a founding member) have resources to help veterinary practices monitor and maintain their online reputations. The Partners for Healthy Pets website provides resources for clinics interested in launching a social media presence, as well as basics of monitoring your online reputation and responding to negative reviews. AVMA resources include Social Media 101 for Veterinary Clinics and an extensive set of online reputation management resources (developed in collaboration with Bernstein Crisis Management), as well as detailed resources to assist practices in mitigating the effects of cyberbullying