Today's Veterinary Business

DEC 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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36 Today's Veterinary Business Communication I want to help you manage bad reviews by giving you proven tech- niques designed to mitigate any negative effects of a review before they become a thorn in your side. Here are six simple steps for resolv- ing conflict and restoring online confidence in your practice. Respond thoughtfully and apologize for the negative experience. Emphasize that a poor experience for your clients is not typical and that you as the owner or manager want to learn more about the incident. Provide your name and telephone number so that you can be reached easily. If you are comfortable doing so, provide the hours you work. The idea of extending yourself in this manner is to show your com- mitment to resolving the issue and to respond personally. To simply respond with, "We're sorry to hear this, call us at …" feels disingenuous and can result in further backlash. Next, do a bit of investigative research by pulling the cli- ent's record. Contact the client with an understanding of where the ex- perience or patient visit could have taken a turn for the worse. If the client does not contact you or you are unable to reach the pet owner, at least you responded personally and showcased your commitment to resolving the issue. After all, re- sponding to reviews online should be considered an extension of your customer service efforts. If the negative review in- volves specific details about the level of medicine or the treat- ment provided, do not respond publicly on the specifics. This is especially important because if you do respond in detail, you run the risk of breaching client confidenti- ality. It's your responsibility to keep private any medical records and details about a patient's condition. While veterinarians aren't held to HIPAA-level standards — I'm referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act — breaching confidentiality can get you reported to the state board. This is true even if a client initiated the conflict online. To respond online without divulg- ing specifics, try something like this: "My name is Dr. Garcia and I'm the medical director of Simply Done Animal Hospital. We take your medically related concerns very seriously. As the medical di- rector, I'd like to talk to you over the phone or in person. We want to do this to protect your privacy. Please contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX. (Be sure to use your practice phone number and never a personal line.) I would like to discuss this case with you in further detail." Again, if the client does not reply or contact you, you have a public response showing your will- ingness to alleviate the issue. When you respond thought- fully and personally, you dramatically increase the likeli- hood of resolving the matter. How do I know this? Practices around the world tell me about their bad reviews and how these techniques work 90 percent of the time at resolving the original complaint. Don't assume that someone who leaves a bad review never wants to do business with you again. Clients usually want to get your attention by leaving the I've written at length about the importance of your online reputation and how you can protect and enhance it to ensure your veterinary practice thrives day in and day out. What's less fun to discuss is how bad reviews can harm your business. It's not a matter of if one happens but rather when. Ignoring negative reviews, however tempting it might be, is dangerous and can cause a situation involving a disgruntled client to snowball uncontrollably. Communication SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE By Eric D. Garcia review. Your personalized response has the power to make the dif- ference and bring them back for a second chance. You might be surprised by how much a client's tune changes after you've made the effort to reach out. It's not uncommon to have clients update a review to show a better star rank- ing or to delete the review. Now, you might find a review from the pet owner your staff calls "Mr. Crazy." Yes, you know Mr. Crazy. He's the one who yelled loudly in the waiting room, berated the receptionist and slammed the door on his way out while spooking other pets in the process. Mr. Crazy even WRITES HIS REVIEWS IN CAPITAL LETTERS BECAUSE HE'S THAT ANGRY. So, what do we do with the review from Mr. Crazy? We leave it alone! Why would we do that? Mr. Crazy is trying to set you up for a no-win scenario. He wants to know that his review affected you and even upset you. If you reply, do not be shocked if he deletes his review, deleting your response in the process, and writes again at twice the original length. He might even recruit his family and friends to attack you and will hunt down more websites where he can leave more reviews about you. The main takeaway here? Leave him alone. It's not worth the battle. Don't assume that any and every negative review is crazy. Many client concerns are valid, and your response to them can turn a negative experience into a positive one. Think about it. If responding to a dissatisfied client helps to alleviate their concerns, and the pet owner is pleasantly sur- prised upon a return visit, you may have just saved a lifetime client. This person might then recommend you to family and friends. This is just one reason that responding to negative reviews patiently and thoughtfully is so important. Now that you know how to respond to a negative review, here are tips for disputing reviews post- ed on Google, Yelp and Facebook. 1 2 3 4 Turn a negative into a positive Knowing how to respond to a client's less- than-stellar online review can help resolve a conflict effectively and respectfully. 5 6

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