Effective online reputation management is something every veterinary clinic needs to master.
Veterinary clinics, like every other business, can’t rely on word of mouth like they used to. That’s because, these days, people are less likely to ask a friend, co-worker, or family member for a recommendation than they are to simply google, “veterinary clinic near me.”
With the right online reputation management strategy, not only will you have the best chance of showing up for those “near me” searches in your area, but you’ll also have a lot more control over what people find when they look for your business online.
Knowing how to implement an effective online reputation management strategy is a skill that every local business needs these days, and veterinary clinics are no exception.
4 Key Reputation Management Tips for Veterinary Clinics
#1. Claim your listings on review sites and directories.
Whether or not you’ve taken the time to sign your business up to be on a review site or an online directory is irrelevant – chances are, your veterinary clinic is already listed. These kinds of sites pull their listings in with algorithms, which means that, whatever information was available at the time the algorithm pulled the listing, is the only information that the website in question will have.
What does this mean for you? It means that if you’ve ever moved to a new facility, changed your phone number, or updated your email address, the people who find you on that listing probably won’t be able to get ahold of you. This may leave them with the impression that your business is no longer operational for some reason or, possibly, that you’re just too lazy to keep your contact information updated — either way, it’s a lost patient for your veterinary clinic.
That’s why it’s important to claim your listings and keep them current. Not only will this ensure that people will be able to connect with your business regardless of how they find you online, but when your contact information is consistent across the web, it can help to improve your website’s ranking in the SERP (search engine results pages).
#2. Ask for reviews.
Most veterinary clinics claim to be committed to patient care and treating pets like family, so what sets a veterinary clinic apart from the many others that show up in the SERP when someone googles “veterinary clinic near me?” There are many possible answers to this question, but most people will choose a local veterinary clinic over the others because of its reviews.
Reviews play a vital role in the decision-making process when people are searching online for any local business. As informative as a veterinary clinic’s website can be, it can feel like a gamble to entrust your pet to a clinic you don’t have personal knowledge of. Reading a clinic’s reviews helps to ease some of that doubt.
This, of course, means that you have to have reviews to read in the first place. If you don’t, it can give the impression of inexperience. At the very least, it doesn’t give the consumer any peace of mind about working with you, because they don’t have any real idea of what their experience will be like. Luckily, it’s easy to generate reviews. In fact, the best way to get them is to simply ask.
#3. Respond to reviews — and do so promptly.
While it’s true that most people will write a review for you when asked, it’s also true that most people won’t write one on their own — even if you provide a next-level experience for them. Let’s face it, most of us lead stressful, busy lives, and we just don’t think about it. So, when someone does take the time out of their schedule to write a review for your business, it’s important to show them that you’re listening to their feedback by responding to it (and make sure you do so promptly!).
Respond to every review but, in particular, respond to the negative ones. Negative reviews can hurt a veterinary clinic’s online reputation, but you can mitigate the damage in the kind of response you leave.
When responding to a negative review, always apologize for their negative experience with your clinic, even if you think the review is unfair or inaccurate. If their feedback is valuable and you can use it to make a change within your clinic, let them know! Always give them a chance to talk with you directly about the situation, by inviting them to call or email you. This will prevent a public argument that will only make you look petty, and it will tell the reviewer, and anyone reading the exchange, that you value any feedback.
#4. Monitor your online reputation.
People not only expect a response to their reviews; they expect a prompt response, which means that you need to know when someone leaves you a review. That’s partially why it’s so important to closely monitor your online reputation on a consistent basis. It’s also just as important to know what people are saying about your business online and what people find when they look for you online.
You could monitor your online reputation by logging into each individual review site one at a time, or you could simply sign up/claim your Top Rated Local® listing! Top Rated local offers numerous ways to stay on top of your online reputation.
Top Rated Local businesses enjoy a plethora of monitoring benefits, including real-time notifications when they get reviews, monthly reports on their overall online reputation, and a Rating Score™, which gives them a score out of 100 based on their reputation across every verified review site they’re rated on.