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Ok, so we don’t actually mean stop reading Google reviews completely. Or do we?

As a veterinary professional, it’s completely understandable to want to know how your clients feel about the care that you provided to their pet. With more than the majority of consumers saying they look to online reviews from sites like Google and Yelp when deciding which veterinarian to use, it’s not unreasonable to place a lot of weight on the reviews that your clients leave after a visit at your practice. You build a relationship with the pet and their owner, you get invested in their lives, and as a person who is a caretaker by nature, it’s natural to want to make sure that they’re happy with their experience.

While Google reviews can be a valuable way to find parts of your practice that can be improved, spending too much time reading reviews, both positive and negative, can have a negative effect on both you and your practice as a whole.

Your Mental Health Matters

We’re cutting straight to the chase. Spending a lot of time reading client reviews is emotionally draining. It’s human nature for you to take criticism to heart, and it only hits closer to home when the criticism is about something you care deeply about and have dedicated much of your life to. You also probably read most of these reviews in your free time, either during breaks or while you’re away from the hospital.

Your emotional and mental well-being matter, and it’s important to give yourself the time and space to get away from the hustle of the exam room. We’ve all heard it before. “You need to find work-life balance.” Remember that reading reviews about your practice counts as work in it of itself, and if you are doing it, it should happen within the walls of the practice with your team.

The more time you spend reading negative reviews, the more likely you are to start getting feelings of doubt or guilt, and that in turn will start to affect the performance of you and your team. Take care of and control the things that you can control, and just as much as you care for your clients and patients, please make sure to care for yourself as well.

We’re here for you. Check out the links below for resources to help you care for your mental health, and also help in finding work-life balance:

Mental Health Resources

Work-Life Balance with Marie Holowaychuk

30-Day Challenges

Online Reviews are Biased

Now, let’s take into consideration who we typically see taking the time to leave online reviews. It’s almost always someone who had a very good experience or a very bad one. While it’s important to make sure you are considering the thoughts and experiences of those reviews, it’s also just as important to recognize that their opinions do not reflect the opinions of the majority of your clients.

Now, I’m not saying those thoughts, feelings, and reviews don’t matter. It’s definitely important to make sure you are being considerate of those clients and their perceived experience. However, it’s just that. It’s their perception of what happened during their visit.

Now let’s be realistic. It’s hard for a hospital to be completely perfect, and there will be parts of the hospital that your team can improve on, but the primary focus of your hospital and team should always be to provide the highest level of care you can in every aspect of the client experience. If you really want to get a more accurate response regarding things that your hospital may need to work on, try asking regular clients to give live feedback or take a quick survey. These types of responses will usually give you a good idea about the places in which you and your team can focus on improving.

You’re the Professional

You don’t have to say this to your clients. In fact, we wouldn’t recommend it. But please do remember (for yourself) that the average client cannot fully understand all the things that you do as a doctor and/or veterinary professional.

From diagnosis to procedure, the things that happen in the exam room are the things that you went through all that training and school for. Be confident in the decisions that you make and try your best to not take negative feedback from a client too personally in the heat of the moment.

Now, does that mean the client is wrong? Not necessarily. In fact, you shouldn’t approach those types of situations as a right or wrong situation. Ultimately, a client is going to make the decision that they feel the most comfortable making for their pet. With that in mind, approach it as if you made what you believe is the best suggestion for the pet, and they decided on what they believe is the best for their pet. No right. No wrong. That is ok. Like we already established, what that client chooses to write online is usually their interpretation of what is going on with their pet, not an accurate interpretation of your ability as a veterinary professional.

So, are we telling you not to read your Google reviews at all? Not necessarily. However, it’s important for you and your team to make sure that you are continuing to focus on the things that you can control in the practice and not alter the values of your hospital because of negative online reviews. If you choose to respond to the reviews, respond without being argumentative or defensive, and attempt to provide a solution over the phone or in person. Otherwise, encourage your team to continue doing the best that they can do, and find places you can improve on through valuable and intentional feedback.

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