Q&A: Do online veterinary referrals hold as much weight as word-of-mouth referrals?

Q: I've heard that 60 percent of your veterinary practice's referrals should come from clients' word-of-mouth. How has the Internet changed that recommendation? Should we count online recommendations from our clients?
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Apr 01, 2011

Q: I've heard that 60 percent of your veterinary practice's referrals should come from clients' word-of-mouth. How has the Internet changed that recommendation? Should we count online recommendations from our clients?

First, any practice that is tracking referral sources is on the right path—it's crucial to know what channels are working for your hospital, says Karyn Gavzer, CVPM. That said, the world is changing. Conventional word-of-mouth referrals are great but no longer sufficient in our technology-driven society. "If face-to-face word-of-mouth was sufficient, we wouldn't be seeing the decline in new client numbers and patient visits documented by the new Bayer-Brakke-NCVEI Usage Study," Gavzer says.

Consumers today rely online consumer-to-consumer recommendations—like those found on Yelp and other similar review sites—instead of advertising, according to market research studies. This means that more than likely new pet owners make their decisions on which practice to choose based on what they read online. You are right to include your online referrals if you want an accurate count, Gavzer says, and 60 percent is still a great goal to shoot for.