How to respond to online reviews

Proactively and constructively replying to both fans and critics can solidify your reputation and influence customer decisions

Content submitted by Vet’s Best Friend, a dvm360® Strategic Alliance Partner

Love them or loathe them, client reviews can help build your brand and your practice. That is why it’s important to learn how to respond to both negative and positive reviews and to be proactive in responding.

Before you can respond to reviews, be sure to create your Google business profile and then “claim your listing” by completing the verification process. Doing this will ensure you receive a notification immediately when a new review is left for your business. Then prioritize time in your weekly schedule to respond to every single review. Doing this shows the reviewer and the those reading the reviews that you truly do care about customer satisfaction.

The following information is intended to help you feel less stressed and more prepared to respond to online reviews.

Positive reviews

Positive reviews help solidify your online reputation and can sway pet parents toward choosing your practice. And responding correctly to positive reviews can help magnify their impact.

Consider the following 2 strategies when replying to your fans:

  • Respond in kind. The reviewer is taking time to share their thoughts about your service. It is only natural to show them the same respect in return by acknowledging you saw the review and appreciate the feedback. Responding to all reviews also improves your visibility in Google search results, bringing more people to your website and helping potential clients find you.1
  • Recognize employees. It’s not just about responding online; responding in person matters, too. When one of your employees makes such a positive impression on a client that they call the employee out by name in a public review, you should recognize that employee. Not only is that employee going above and beyond in their job—which is what we strive for—but it’s also an opportunity for us to show our employee appreciation. Ideas for ways to recognize employees include gift cards to their favorite restaurant, fitness memberships, or simply a handwritten note. Another option is to have a “spotlight board”—where you regularly print and post positive reviews—hanging in the break room for everyone to see.

negative reviews

Negative reviews are inevitable, but one way you can take control of the narrative and protect your brand is by responding to these reviews. Consider the following strategies when responding to critics:

Read the review thoroughly and ask questions. Ask who, what, when, where, and why? Were you present? Do you need to discuss this with other employees? Can you make it up to the client? Do you need to do something to make it right?

Pause and decompress. When reading a negative review, it’s natural to immediately feel defensive. Your thoughts may race, and you might understandably feel angry. If you recognize this and allow yourself to revisit the review after an hour, or even a full day later, you’ll most likely react in a more level-headed manner than you would have initially. A negative review followed by a negative, emotional response only worsens the situation.

Respond and direct the conversation offline. Whenever possible, encourage conversations to be taken offline. Simply thank the reviewer for taking the time to write a review, and let them know you’ll be following up via a phone call or email. This will provide an opportunity to talk about the issue with the client and to let them vent, and it also shows potential future clients that you care—that you’re making an effort to keep the conversation going and to make things right. Responding online with an objective explanation of your side of the story can work if the conversation cannot be taken offline. Again, be sure to keep it concise and avoid becoming defensive. Here is an example response:

Thank you for your feedback. Please know that the health and wellness of your pet is our top priority. As we explained on your visit, our veterinarians follow guidelines that have been put forth by the American Veterinary Dental College. These veterinarians are board certified in dentistry and set the standard of care for other veterinarians to follow. We have recommended a course of action for the long-term health of your pet that upholds these standards of veterinary medicine.

final thoughts

The most important thing to remember is to stay positive when it comes to responding to online reviews, even when they are negative. Negative reviews happen to everyone, but how you respond to them affects how customers see your business. On the other hand, positive reviews are a boon for your business, and responding to them helps demonstrate customer appreciation.

At the end of the day, online reputation is incredibly important because potential new clients often do online research before selecting a practice. Properly handling online reviews is an opportunity to positively impact the practice-client relationship for the benefit of everyone.

Grace Manozzi is the regional marketing manager at Vet’s Best Friend and the point of contact between their hospitals and the home office, constantly working with the hospitals to ensure their mission—to take care of the people who take care of our pets—is being met . She lives in Massachusetts with her 2 cats, Norman and Goofy.

Reference

How to improve your ranking on Google. Google. Accessed March 9, 2022. https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en#zippy=%2Cmanage-respond-to-reviews

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