Take control of your veterinary practice's online reputation

Take control of your veterinary practice's online reputation

Got a negative review? You can still survive and thrive in the veterinary world by following these simple steps.
Jan 01, 2014

Your client left you a little gift in the form of a scathing online review. Now what? Hang up your white coat and consider your career over? Not so fast. Here's what to do to mitigate the damages and recover your reputation.

1. Consider the source

First things first: Who wrote the review? Is it legitimately a client, or is it a disgruntled employee? Not all review sites require posters to use a real name, but with a little digging you might be able to figure out the content source. If the situation rings a bell with you or one of your staff members, you could determine the client's name that way.

Once you figure out who wrote it, it's time to contact that person. You must handle the call politely, professionally and non-defensively. The practice owner or manager should call the client directly, never a receptionist. I would say, "Mrs. Jones, this is Dr. Mike at ABC Veterinary Hospital. It was brought to my attention that you wrote a review about my practice online. It appears that you had a negative experience here. Would you be willing to talk with me about this?"

In most of these cases, simple miscommunications cause clients to head for the Internet to share their grievances with the world. A phone call often can clear up the matter. If you're able to resolve the situation, I'd try to correct the problem and ask the client to remove the posting. If the client still won't remove the posting, write an email to the host website, inform them of the situation and ask for it to be removed. If that doesn't work, post a response to the client on the site.

If you determine the author is a disgruntled employee, time to take another tack. If the person still works for you and has violated a policy stated in your employee manual, you then have grounds for disciplinary action or termination.

A former employee can be handled another way. First, as you would do with a client, call the person to see if a simple miscommunication is at the root of the issue. Calmly lay out the facts, ask the employee for his or her take on the story, and work toward an agreement. Then, ask him or her to remove the post. If he or she refuses, you'll have to take further steps to address the situation. (See "Contact the authorities".)

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