Stop Being A Hostage to Online Reviews

“My appointment took too long. Refund my money or I will post a negative review on every social media site.”

“Your diagnosis can’t be right. You don’t know what you are doing. I shouldn’t have to pay for this. I am going to post a negative review.”

The variations of this conversation are endless. The basic premise is that if you don’t give me what I want, I will write a negative review. How many of you have considered caving to those demands just to make the issue go away or to avoid a negative online review? Why? If you caved, did it solve anything? And, how many times has caving in to those demands been twisted into a ‘clearly you screwed up since you gave in!’ admission of guilt?

In today’s social environment, threatening a negative online review is a quick go-to threat when someone doesn’t get their way or when their expectations were not met, regardless of whether those expectations were reasonable. So many times, veterinarians give in to ludicrous demands in order to avoid negative online reviews only to find that the review still gets posted or, worse yet, the client returns and the demand cycle continues. In the end, you enable the very behavior you are seeking to avoid and you have become a hostage in your own practice to online reviews.

When a mistake was made or less than stellar service was provided, apologize and work to make it right whether that includes a refund, free follow-up service, or whatever else is appropriate. However, if the issue is that expectations or demands are unreasonable but appropriate service was provided, caving to a threat of a negative online review devalues your services and expertise. It communicates to your team that a perfect online review score is more important than standing for what is right. By giving in to such demands to avoid a negative review, you have compromised your judgement of right and wrong. You have declared that your knowledge, expertise, and service aren’t worth more than an online review. How does hearing that sit on your heart? Uncomfortable? You can take a different path.

Shouldn’t we strive to maintain a perfect 5-star review rating? Actually, according to the Local Marketing Institute, no, you shouldn’t. Most customers actually expect that a business will have some bad reviews whether it is from a grumpy client or a result of an actual mistake. Customers become skeptical of those perfect review scores. What is actually more important is how the business responds to reviews.

If someone attempts to hold you hostage with a threat of a negative online review, don’t compromise your foundation of right and wrong. You are able to stand firm and support your decisions, actions, or those of your team. Another person’s expectations don’t get to redefine right and wrong. If a negative review is posted, online platforms allow you the opportunity to respond with your side of the story. You can respond with a well thought out, professional response that outlines the facts. You may very well come out looking better to those who read the review and would not have compromised your value.

You are worth defending. Your team is worth defending.