This post touches on something that’s critical to your practice – positive online reviews – so no beating around the bush. I’m jumping straight in with a stat. Here goes:
91% of consumers actively seek out online reviews for local businesses(1)
If your veterinary practice is clogging up social media platforms with its 4- and 5-star reviews, fantastic. But if it’s not, you should definitely think twice before closing your browser.
In a recent consumer review survey(1), 84% of people said they trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. If the thought of people badmouthing your practice at the local library or coffee shop concerns you, you should feel equally concerned at the prospect of people posting bad reviews.
What actually constitutes a bad review?
While the details matter, research(1) tells us that the majority of consumers evaluate a business based on its star rating. If you’ve ever sought out restaurant reviews on Yelp, you’d probably agree that three stars don’t warrant a gamble. If you’re going to give somewhere new a try, you want to see at least four stars, preferably five. The same goes for your prospective clients. [bctt tweet=”Data(1) shows that only 57% of consumers are willing to try out a business if it has a three-star average.”] This jumps all the way up to 94% if a business has a four-star average or higher.
In a recent post, Brandon Hess offers some great advice on what to do if you discover a negative review online. In this post, I’m going to focus on three ways you can encourage your clients to leave positive online reviews – ones that won’t require damage control.
How to solicit positive online reviews for your veterinary practice
1. Ask and you shall receive
Yes, it really can be that simple! Boosting your practice’s success may be top of mind for you but it isn’t top of mind for your clients. This doesn’t mean they don’t want the best for you though, so don’t be afraid to give them a friendly nudge.
Of course, you’ll want to do this with discretion. You wouldn’t, for example, want to pursue a client who potentially has cause to give you anything less than a stellar rating. Nor is it worth approaching a client with a generally cantankerous personality (every practice has a few). Furthermore, you’ll want to be sensitive to the condition of their pets’ health. If they’re dealing or have just dealt with a life-threatening illness, you obviously wouldn’t want to call on them for a favor.
Invest your energy in the clients you know are satisfied with your service, of which there are no doubt plenty. Every thank-you card, box of cookies, and hug of gratitude presents a great opportunity to build your online rating. Now here’s something important to keep in mind: this opportunity should be reinforced with an email. Here’s why.
You may make a face-to-face request for a review and your client may gladly promise to oblige, but chances are they’ll forget to do so the minute they leave your clinic. Instead, have a staff member send them an email acknowledging their gesture of gratitude and expressing how much you’d appreciate them taking five minutes to share their thoughts on Yelp, Google or Facebook. Include links to these platforms within your email and they’ll be even more likely to comply.
2. Run a ‘check-in’ promotion
Even in the most efficient practices, clients usually find themselves with a little time on their hands in the reception area and then again in the examination room. Display notices in both areas inviting them to put this time to good use by checking in on Yelp or Facebook using their mobile device in exchange for a small gift. Gifts can easily be solicited from pet food suppliers and others who want to get samples of their products into the hands of consumers.
While check-ins alone are valuable in that they get your practice ‘out there,’ [bctt tweet=”most social media platforms will automatically prompt users to provide a review once they’ve checked in.”] If you’re running a promotion like this, be sure to talk to your staff about the importance of outstanding service. Remember, you want positive online reviews. If clients have to wait until your receptionist finishes scrolling through her Instagram feed before looking up to greet them, they’re not likely to leave you a 5-star review!
3. Leverage your existing post-visit surveying platform
If your practice already sends out post-visit satisfaction surveys to clients, make sure your system is setup to solicit online reviews when clients provide positive feedback. This feature is already built in to all of the industry-specific platforms most of us are using. It’s just a matter of making sure that online review solicitation is turned on in the settings.
4. Track your social media ratings regularly
[bctt tweet=”Successful practices don’t simply strive to minimize lapsing patients. They strive to maximize new ones.”] While avoiding bad reviews is an important goal, a more pressing one is generating more positive online reviews than your competitors, which is why three stars won’t cut it. You’re aiming for 4- and 5-star rating averages. I suggest checking in at least once a month to see how you’re doing, and dialing up your efforts as needed.
|Concerned about the time it could take to get your online rating to where it should be? What matters isn’t how quickly you boost your practice’s reputation, but simply that you do. To begin with, you could use the VetSuccess Practice Overview Report to assess how you’re doing with respect to client acquisition and then set yourself a modest goal. Each month, reassess, and set a new goal, pushing the envelope just a little bit more every time.|
As they say, slow and steady wins the race. Good luck!