Let’s talk about handling negative online reviews. Yay! Aren’t they everybody’s favorite?!?!

I am here to tell you:

DON’T worry about them that much.

Of course it’s human nature to cringe a little bit when you see a not-so-nice review about your hospital. It’s natural. But we have to remember that most of the time, the people complaining don’t actually have something to really complain about.

We all know the reviews that we’ve seen when we are searching for a business, like a hairdresser or a restaurant or something. I think it’s fair to say:

The crazy just shines right on through.

You’ve seen the ones– They’re probably in all caps. Maybe every other word is misspelled. You just get a visual of that person and you’re like, “Oh, I know THAT person.”

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They’re unhappy. They’re just generally complainers and you can tell. You can just look at their review and know that you should immediately discount it.

So I encourage you to first of all, give yourself a little grace and go, “Okay, is that person like this?”

Now, if that person really has a complaint, you need to deal with it. These reviews can be really good feedback. What I try to do with my clients is encourage them and train them to come to ME first if they have something negative to say.

If you have something great to say, please go straight to the internet. No problem.

But if you have feedback for us that could be constructive, I want to know about it. I don’t want you to leave my practice and not say anything and also not leave a negative review on the internet. I genuinely want to know. It can be very helpful information.

If the crazy flag is just flying, let it fly.

No matter how crazy it looks online, if you know that person… you know exactly what went down. You know that your clinic was not to blame. You can still craft a response to the effect of, “I’m so sorry that you had that experience,” or something similar. There are lots of great resources to help you form responses (check out Snout School for a PDF purchase addressing this).

Just remember that these responses are for other people. They’re not for that person. That person is long gone and you probably don’t want them back if they went to these lengths to leave you this review without coming to you first. But just give it a general, “I’m so sorry that you had that experience,” or “We pride ourselves on creating great experiences. Please contact us. We’d like to discuss this with you.”

And then if they do, either you talk to them directly. Whether you’re the vet, or the practice manager, or the head CSR, empower somebody to do that and say, “Hey, when this person calls, listen to them.” If there is anything you can do for them, do it. Nothing costs you as much as really negative publicity.

I think people like to tell the whole story a lot of times. Like, “Well, I want everyone to know what happened, and that we’re right.” This isn’t a “be right” or “be wrong” situation.

This is a, “You look crazy if you argue with people on the internet” situation. So don’t argue with people on the internet. You can take that one to the bank, guys.

Come up with your nice, helpful phrases for people like, “I’m sorry you had that experience. Thank you for your feedback,” then offer for them to contact you offline, because then you’re telling the other people who are looking, “Hey, wow, they’re trying. They’re doing something.”

And that’s my two cents on that. If you have any other questions, let me know and we can talk about it.