Be a professional

Remember that something once uploaded on the Internet will stay there forever. Well, unless we remove our comment right away, but there is always a chance that someone else will take a screenshot. The person who left you a negative opinion/comment is under the influence of strong emotions. Do not let this overwhelm you and cause your nervousness, anger, regret, etc. The last thing you want is an escalation of the conflict (colloquially functioning under a different name 😉 on your clinic fanpage. Believe me, the use of a very formal tone in which you bring all medical counter-arguments based on a status-quo of the case will not help you at all, but only harm. They can be picked up by other observers for heartlessness and extreme formalism, and yet we do not like such perception as veterinarians. This will only result in a barren discussion, the involvement of other Internet users, and the conquest of such a negative review up the list of our opinions, due to considerable commitment under the post. They are our competencies and self-confidence, but most importantly, COMPASSION and UNDERSTANDING, that will help us keep our face and get out of the situation. Do not forget that everyone has an insight into this discussion – your co-workers, friends, colleagues, competition, parents (yes, if they have Facebook, they follow your actions 🙂 and most importantly – clients and potential clients). Think about what impression you make on them and whether they will want to use your services after reading your answers.

Win the battle

Monitor the discussion, but know when to let go. It does not make sense to give out more than two answers, especially if you have a negative comment. Remember about compassion, competence and responsibility. Try to address this person privately, especially if you know the client and you have his contact details – the phone call and the invitation to mediation in the clinic will be the best solution. Resolving disputes on a public forum, especially regarding the treatment of the animal or dissatisfaction with the service is unprofessional and will be badly received by the others. Also scaring articles or accusing you of lying will not bring the desired effect. If you are amongst those who always have to be right and have the last word – unfortunately you have to give up this habit, otherwise, you have a dead end. Endless online disputes do not lead to anything, they only harm our image. We do not want to go out as overconfident and argumentative, right? In controversial cases, it is best to choose a person from the team who will take care of responding in a given situation and with a cooler judgment will take away our responsibility. Our emotional reactions will only make matters worse and will not be conducive to resolving the conflict. Not saying any further comments in the discussion is not a personal defeat, just a quiet saying “no”. An invitation to direct contact and offline conversation will be the best you can do. In a situation where you are faced with threats or legal liability – contact your lawyer and ask for mediation in the so-called “real world.” Unfortunately, there are still few cases in the courts related to cyberbullying in Poland, while those that appear rarely are considered positively, due to the lack of financial losses or threats to the health and life of the plaintiff.

Extinguishing the fire

Although social media crises are short-lived, they can have a significant impact on your well-being and team spirit. No one wants to be persecuted publicly, and destroying our reputation online can affect the decision of a potential client about choosing a different veterinary clinic. If the situation gets out of control, and the problem overwhelms you and does not allow you to function normally – look for the help of a specialist such as a qualified therapist. Do everything to protect your well-being, mental health and self-esteem.

Social media have their own rights and our reputation created thanks to them is key to our existence in the industry. It is social media that is the real leverage of marketing and should be our ally. Building a dedicated, local community of customers who will be our online supporters significantly helps in responding to hate and trolling. While caring for the high quality of the offline relationship on the veterinarian-owner line also builds loyalty, it translates into leaving a positive online review. Do not be afraid to ask trusted and satisfied customers to leave us a comment, or “stars” on Facebook – it is thanks to them that our credibility on the web grows, and the potential client will decide to visit us sooner. Remember, bad opinion ≠ bad clinic! Customers also tend to have extreme polarization – we rarely see 2/3/4 stars on fanpages, usually 5 or (fortunately, much less frequently) 1.

Also, the nature of the response to negative comments and reviews will influence whether the owner wants to treat his pet in our clinic. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate our competences, communication skills and show that we are empathic, animal-loving specialists who care about the satisfaction of their clients. The preparation of an action plan in the most common cases, eg customer dissatisfaction with waiting time, medical costs, client misinformation etc., will allow easier and calmer reaction in the future in the similar situation. They can be quickly and easily modified and used in a similar case. Make sure that the whole team follows the guidelines we have prepared and that the flow of information between employees is smooth. If clients regularly evaluate us negatively in relation to the same issue, eg with a long wait time or being uninformed about the additional costs of treatment at the right time, maybe it is worth considering whether there is some truth in this matter and changing something in our ways? 🙂

And what if we were attacked by hates? [su_quote cite=”Farshad Asl”]Haters don’t really hate you. They hate seeing your potential and not their own. Love them anyway and someday they’ll become your biggest fans[/su_quote]

Author: Natalia Strokowska DVM MRCVS