Your Business’ Online Reputation: Why It Matters and How to Manage It

Online reviews are important. As a practice manager or owner, you’ve probably heard this before. But why are online reviews so important? So you can show how much better or more popular your animal hospital is than the one down the street?

Reviews are not just a feather in your cap. Often, reviews can be a deciding factor in whether or not a pet owner chooses to walk through your doors or the doors of your competitor. According to a 2013 article by Marketing Land, 90 percent of consumers are influenced by online reviews when making purchasing decisions. Also, according to a similar article in 2014 by Search Engine Land, 88 percent of people place as much faith in online reviews as they do personal recommendations.

Another reason online reviews are important? The review sites appear in search engine results. A pet owner can either search for particular keywords or simply search for a business name and “reviews.” Perhaps you aren’t worried about the state of your online reputation, but you are concerned with how well you are ranking in Google and other search engines when people are searching for veterinarians or veterinary services in your area. Phrasing reviewers use can rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs), similar to how a business’ website content affects the site’s rankings. If you notice that a competitor appears more often or outranks you for certain key phrases, look to see if the instances where they appear are for their practice website or a review site.

Along with searching for a veterinarian or veterinary services, when someone is “shopping” for a new veterinary hospital, he or she might search online reviews to get better insight into area practices. If you do have reviews out there, a prospective client can quickly see a snapshot of your average star rating and how many reviews are on that review site in the SERPs.

You’ve heard it before: You only have so much time to grab someone’s attention. What is your online review snapshot telling your prospective clients?

How to take charge of your online reputation
Ready to improve your online reputation? Here are a few ways to do just that.

-ASK. If you don’t ask your clients to spread the word about you, it’s unlikely that they will. Clients, as happy as they might be with you and your services, don’t have it at the forefront of their thoughts to say something nice about you without some prompting on your part. However, the moment a client becomes upset, the likelihood of him or her leaving a review (the kind you don’t want to have) increases. You can ask for reviews in a number of ways:

1. In person, after the visit ends
2. Via email reminders, perhaps a few days after the appointment
3. On your website
4. On your app

However you decide to ask for reviews, also be sure to make it easy and streamlined for your clients to comply.

-Be grateful. When you get a positive review, replying with a “thank you” can have a big impact on the reviewer and the prospective clients perusing the review sites.

-Be prompt. Whether you receive a positive or negative review, be timely with your response. Especially with negative reviews, the sooner you can attempt to resolve the issue, the better. Your quick action to the complaint, along with the resolution you reach, can sometimes induce the reviewer to remove the negative review or update it into a positive one. Be sure to attempt to contact the person who left a negative review offline first to help avoid any possible misunderstandings or escalations of the issue on the public review site.

If you haven’t before taken steps to improve your online reputation, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the right actions can lead to more positive reviews, happier existing clients, and an increase in new clients.