How to Manage Negative Online Reviews

The veterinary industry is a very passionate one and pet owners consider their furry friends part of the family. Sometimes experiences during visits can sometimes lead to emotional, not always positive online reviews. No business is immune to getting negative or disgruntled online reviews from time to time and veterinary hospitals are no exception. Defending your hospital online is a natural response but did you know that this can create more damage than the initial review itself?  At Community Veterinary Partners we work with each hospital team to get to the bottom of the review and discuss with the client directly.

Here’s how we respond when our animal hospitals receive a bad online review: 

A bad review is received: When a client writes a negative review online it will usually explain where the visit turned negative for them. Some examples we’ve encountered are; the front desk team being rude/short with the client, anger at being charged for many tests that a doctor suggested, a tech not bringing a client into the exam room quickly.  The practice manager should identify the appropriate team member involved and begin researching what exactly happened.

Post a public comment: Either the practice manager or social media manager in your hospital should post a public comment stating that the hospital is sorry about their experience and will reach out privately to discuss in further detail. Keep this short and sweet and avoid getting into the details of the event. The last thing you want is to argue with the client online where potential new clients can read it.

Post a private message to the user: The practice manager or social media manager should now attempt to contact the user directly, sending the same message as in the public comment. Refrain from any conversation about the actual event until you talk directly via phone or in person.

Research the event: Find out what actually happened during the visit.

  • Look through records to see who the client is and what occurred on his or her visit.
  • Speak to staff members involved
  • Decide on best person to reach out to the client directly via phone. (Usually a partner doctor if the issue was medical or practice       manager if the experience was operational in nature)

Reach out to the client directly: Once the message is posted, the practice manager or lead doctor should call the client directly to discuss the event and what happened. Remember that in the end, you want the client to feel listened to and understood. Even if you feel like the hospital was right in this circumstance, your words and tone of voice are very important. Do not interrupt the client as they explain the situation.
Using the following phrases can be helpful:

  • Thank you for your feedback, I’m very sorry you had this experience.
  • What can we do better next time?
  • What can we do to make you feel better about this situation?

After you discuss the clients visit, ask the client if they would be OK with the hospital posting a public comment thanking them for             speaking with them about the event. We will not post details of the conversation, only that we connected and talked. If the clients agrees,     post this online. This shows other existing or potential clients that even though we had a negative review, we took the time to address it       and right any wrongs.

After your discussion: If the hospital has made an error speak with the staff member involved and discuss with them how to handle the event differently in the future. And, if appropriate, use the incident as a client service or patient care learning tool at your next staff meeting. Encourage other clients to write reviews about their positive experiences. This will move negative reviews down on the website.

Some things not to do: 

  • Immediately remove the post if it’s on Facebook. If it’s full of profanity, personal attacks or is completely false, then it is OK to hide or delete the review. But if it’s someone venting about a bad experience, we do not recommend removing reviews. This can anger users and turn into an ugly online back and forth.
  • Respond to the review with a spirited defense. It’s best to be short and sweet online. Use every effort to take the conversation offline. Online debates don’t look good, and rarely end well.

We’ve found that this method to responding to online reviews has minimized the damage they can cause and in many cases helped the client feel better about the situation.

 

Sincerely,

Shannon Midford

Director of Marketing


Implementing an Effective Social Media Presence Online

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Written By: Shanon Midford- Community Veterinary Partners: Marketing Manager

In today’s world, if you aren’t actively on social media you could be missing out on a large potential audience. One of the greatest things that social media has done is break down walls between companies and their clients.  In September of this year, Facebook reported an average of 864 million daily active users and Twitter reported 284 million monthly active users. Your clients are on social media and you should be too! Here are some tips for implementing an effective social media presence online.

Creating or Re-Launching Your Page:

If you don’t have a social media page for your hospital you definitely should. Or, if you do but it hasn’t been posted to very often, it’s time to re-launch! Before creating or re-launching your page make sure to assign someone in your hospital to oversee it as well as a backup. A social media page is great way to communicate with clients but you can create a bad experience by having an outdated page or worse, unanswered client questions. I’ve seen many veterinary hospital pages that haven’t been posted to in 6 months to a year. If no one is going to manage the page, the clients won’t want to follow it. Make sure notifications from the page go to both of the page managers and that it is checked twice a day.

Posting To Your Page:

A good idea is to come up with a weekly schedule for posts. Posting should be relevant and of interest to your clients. You don’t want to post too often which can annoy the client causing them to unfollow your page.

A good balance is to post about three times a week and have a variety of post types.

  • Promotions or Events: Post about any specials, promotions or events that are currently going on at the hospital.
  • Holidays and Days of Observance: Highlight a holiday or pet specific day. You can find a list of these here:
  • Client photos: Take photos when your clients come in and if they give permission post them to the page. Clients love seeing their pets or pets they know online.
  • Pets up for adoption: Highlight a pet at a local shelter that is up for adoption to help spread the word and support your local shelters.
  • New improvements at the hospital: If you are improving things at the hospital let you clients know about it! If you have a new ultrasound machine, take a photo of the staff using it on an animal.
  • Local community events: If there is a community event that a local shelter is having let your clients know about it. Doing this will encourage the shelters to highlight events that your hospital is having.

 Let Your Clients Know About Your Pages:

Once your page is up and running it’s time to let your clients know! Email your clients and invite them to like and follow your pages. Most email programs will even allow you to even include a button to your pages so the clients can click through. Also, add a link to your website and even include a sign in your hospital.

 Responding to Comments, Client Messages and Reviews:

As your hospital’s social media presence grows, you will see existing clients as well as potential clients commenting with questions about services and events. You will also receive comments thanking you and your staff for great service. With efficient monitoring of your pages, you can reply to these clients within a few hours (That is why it’s important to check twice a day). Even a simple ‘Like’ on a client’s comment or commenting back with something like “It was great seeing Fluffy today!” makes them feel valued and cared about.

While positive comments are very common, you will sometimes get negative comments or reviews on your page. Read our blog about how to respond to these HERE.


Should Your Animal Hospital Offer House Calls and In-Home Veterinary Services?

House Calls Dr Plotnick Manhattan Cat Specialists

Written By: Brad Reiss, Practice Manager, Manhattan Cat Specialists

Many veterinary hospitals do not offer house-calls or in-home veterinary services and wonder whether or not it is the right choice for their practice. Manhattan Cat Specialists, a CVP Partner Hospital, offers house calls. Owner, Arnold Plotnick, MS, DVM, ACVIM, a veterinarian & feline expert for over 30 years, believes there a number of reasons for offering house calls:

  • Some cats get so nervous on the trip to the vet that they urinate, defecate, or vomit (or all three!) in their carrier on the way to (or from) the office.
  • Some cats who are normally very well-behaved at home become very agitated and aggressive once they enter the veterinary office.
  • Some cats, with their sixth sense, know that a veterinary visit is imminent, and they hide under the bed or the couch, making their capture and transport to the office an ordeal for the client.
  • Many of clients have multiple cats, and bringing two, or three, or five (or seven…) cats to the office becomes a logistical nightmare.
  • As our feline population ages, clients are aging right along with them, and some elderly clients find it increasingly difficult to bring their cat to the office.
  • Many owners would like their terminally ill cats to be euthanized in their own home when the time comes.

For these reasons, Manhattan Cat Specialists decided to provide house calls and in-home veterinary services in order to meet the needs of their clients.

When a client makes an appointment for a house call, Dr. Plotnick and a veterinary technician visit the home with the necessary equipment and medical supplies in order to duplicate the type of visit the cat would receive at the hospital.  This includes a complete physical examination, blood and urine collection for lab analysis if necessary, vaccinations, microchipping, feline leukemia and FIV testing, blood typing, subcutaneous fluid administration, ear cleaning, claw trimming, blood pressure measurement, application of Soft Paws, and many other procedures.

And of course, when the time is appropriate, euthanasia can be performed in a gentle, compassionate manner at home. Manhattan Cats will also take care of the cremation arrangements.

It’s important to let clients know which home procedures cannot be performed in the home, for example, x-rays and surgery.  After the examination, if it is determined that a cat needs these or other advanced diagnostic procedures, or needs to be admitted to the hospital, transportation for the cat to the hospital will be arranged. Life threatening emergencies cannot wait, and should not be scheduled for house calls.  Cats who are having difficulty breathing, are having seizures, are unconscious, or are bleeding uncontrollably should be brought to the practice immediately, or to an emergency hospital if it is after hours.

To know whether offering house calls is right for your veterinary hospital, it’s a good idea to survey clients. Those with multiple or difficult pets may be the top clients to take advantage of this service. Especially if no other animal hospitals are doing house calls in the area, you may increase your client base as well as current pet visits.

To learn more about Manhattan Cat Specialists visit their website HERE.


Dr. Karen Felsted: A Belief in Marketing Also Drives Veterinary Visits

As mentioned in the last post, the Bayer study identified a number of attributes that practices which continue to grow during this post-recession economy have in common.  Not entirely surprising is that two of those attributes are marketing related:  the first is a belief by the practice owner that marketing and advertising were critical to the practice’s success and, secondly, that the practice is an active user of social media such as Facebook.  The study also looked at attributes associated with practices who are experiencing declines in visits and found that both of those factors were marketing related:  the veterinarian felt that advertising undermines his/her credibility as a veterinarian and the practice lacks referral arrangements with other pet service providers.

What IS surprising is that 74 percent of veterinarians do not completely agree that marketing and advertising are important tools in running a successful practice today.  Without that commitment, it’s unlikely those practices will be effective in using marketing strategies to attract new clients.

What do you think?  How much time do you spend on marketing and advertising?  What have you found to be most successful?

See all of Dr. Karen Felsted’s blog posts.


Do You Know What Your Veterinary Practice Real Estate is Really Worth? Part 1

Do You Know What Your Veterinary Practice Real Estate is Really Worth?

Part 1- Creating Liquidity and Building Improvements

Written By: Daniel Eisenstadt and Ian Widensky of Calico Real Estate

Thirty years ago nearly every owner of a veterinary practice owned (or wanted to own) the real estate where his or her practice was situated.  While this continues to be the norm for many owners, like so many other aspects of veterinary medicine, “the times they are a changing.”  Today, more practice owners are recognizing that their practice and building are different assets and that viewing each separately can create greater financial value and more flexibility.

In many other healthcare fields (dentistry, physical therapy, etc.) practice owners rarely own their own real estate, choosing instead to focus on building the business of their practices.  Most owners enter into long-term leases for well-equipped facilities in good locations.  In fact, most corporate groups that acquire veterinary practices utilize the same principles and negotiate long-term leases as part of a purchase agreement.

Similarly, certain consultants and advisers have come to view the separation of practice and property as a good way of creating options for owners.  Says Dr. Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, CVPM, president of PantheraT Veterinary Management Consulting, “Traditionally, practice owners have sold their real estate when they’ve sold their practice.  This is a good option for some practice owners but not necessarily for all.  An opportunity to cash in on the value built up in the real estate without having to sell the practice gives veterinarians more financial choices and the ability to customize their succession plan to their individual needs.”

Although no situation is alike, there are several scenarios where value can be created by viewing and treating the practice real estate as independent from the practice:

Creating Liquidity

After years of building a successful practice, many owners are content to practice for another decade (or more) and enjoy the stability of owning a healthy business.   But many admit to feeling a financial crunch as their children grow older and head off to college.   Many want to buy a second home or travel more, but feel unable to do so.

Some veterinarians may be concerned that selling the practice real estate separate from the practice may make a future sale of their veterinary practice less attractive.  In fact, as long as a lease is assignable by the practice owner to a future buyer of the practice, the sale of the real estate will not restrict the sale of the practice.  And, though some associates may be interested in buying real estate few associates and no corporate buyers will pass up the chance to buy a good practice because the facility is leased.

For most veterinarians their practice represents their largest financial asset.  But without selling the practice, many see no easy way to create liquidity.  Some veterinarians in this situation work harder to meet their increased personal financial needs while others put off personal needs and/or the responsible preparations for retirement.  For these veterinarians, a sale of their real estate to a landlord that will lease the property back to the practice can be a creative solution to address this financial need.

Building Improvements

After years in the same building, many practice owners recognize the value (or the impending need)  of renovating and/or expanding their physical plant.  But many of those same owners choose to defer these large-scale projects for financial reasons or because they don’t want to take on additional debt late in their careers.  Regrettably, the decision not to renovate can compromise their ability to recruit quality associates or future buyers, detract from the customer and patient experience, and  lead to a deterioration in the practice’s value.  Few consider the option of selling their building to a landlord who will invest and manage a renovation project and integrate these costs over the course of a long-term lease.

Coming Soon: Part 2 of “Do You Know What Your Practice Real Estate Is Really Worth?”- Diversification and Maximizing Value.