Well, we’re half way through the year… and the competition for the BUKV awards is definitely heating up! If you don’t know about them, Best UK Vet is an award sponsored by VetHelpDirect to promote good customer service - all built around reviews by your own clients! You can read more details here; however, in this blog we’re going to be focusing on WHY reviews are so important, and HOW to get them! On top right now is a practice 276 reviews, but there are a number of others in hot pursuit, and there’s plenty of time to get yourselves in the running…
Why are reviews important?
There are three parts to this…
Because they let you compete for BUKV!
OK, maybe not the strongest argument… although the awards ceremony and banners are great marketing and PR opportunities!
Because they let you see how your clients see you
This is really important. Just as vets and nurses are encouraged to be reflective about their strengths and weaknesses, and then build upon them clinically, it’s a really important exercise to do so for the business as a whole. And for almost all private practices, the revenue stream comes from your clients. If they’re not happy about something, you need to know about it and do something, before they decide to walk to the neighbouring practice.
Equally, reviews can tell you about what’s going well - perhaps things that you wouldn’t usually hear about. A particularly sensitive euthanasia always seems to get a box of chocolates or a card, but the successful cases where something niggling was finally vanquished makes the client feel great but we never hear about it! (I wonder why that is? There’s a topic for some research - why does euthanasia result in more chocolates for the practice than successful treatment does?!!).
Either way, you can’t know how you’re doing in supporting your clients UNLESS they tell you - and ironically, unless they’ve got a serious complaint, they’re more likely to do so through a formal reviewing process. Bottom line - reviews help you to make changes to retain your existing client base.
Because it helps bring in new clients
Yes, really. Our research clearly shows that online reviews are one of the most important metrics used by people looking for a new veterinary practice. In fact, amongst Millennials, they’re THE most important single tool. If you don’t have reviews posted on your website, you’re missing out.
Of course, it does depend on the reviews. If it’s an entirely “in-house” system, or a list of testimonials, you’ll inevitably raise the concern that they’re curated somehow… And as soon as people think that, they’re almost worthless. They have to be genuine and authentic (another real Millennial buzzword!), so an independent system is always best (something like Trustpilot or of course VHD).
So, how do we get reviews?
However, just being listed isn’t enough. You need to ask clients for a review. There are a number of possible approaches to this… The options include:
Get your staff to ask clients for a review after each visit.
Advantages: Coming from a trusted person that they already know, it seems more personal. May increase the number of positive reviews (which is good!).
Disadvantages: Most clients struggle to remember the clinical details, let alone anything else you’ve asked for! The conversion rate is likely to be quite poor as a result.
Invoice or receipt requests
Put a line at the bottom of all invoices or receipts asking for a review, and giving the link.
Advantages: You’ll reach all your active clients.
Disadvantages: By linking the review to financial matters, you risk lots and lots of reviews about your prices, rather than your care. In addition, it might take a long time to reach everyone!
Review requests with reminders
Put a line on all your vaccine or wormer or flea treatment reminders asking for a review, and giving the link.
Advantages: Again, you’ll tend to reach the bulk of your active clients, and it won’t be linked directly to financial matters.
Disadvantages: Most people only look at the top couple of lines on a reminder! In addition, asking for a review before the consult isn’t necessarily that helpful...
Giving cards to clients as they leave after a visit, asking for a review and giving the link (you can even use QR codes or augmented reality tags if you really want to!).
Advantages: You’re catching your active clients as they leave, but separating the review from financial matters.
Disadvantages: If you wait for them to come in, it might take quite a long time to get to all your clients.
Blanket review emails
Send out an email to all your active client list, asking for a review and including the link.
Advantages: You catch everyone, at the time you want the reviews, and they can navigate directly to the review portal, without needing to type in a link address (which deters a remarkably large percentage of people).
Disadvantages: Not all of them will have recently visited the practice, and so may be reviewing you on things that happened months or even years ago.
Smart transactional emails
Send out an email to every client seen in the last week, or month, asking for a review and including the link.
Advantages: You catch who’s recently visited, at the time you want the reviews, and they can navigate directly to the review portal, without needing to type in a link address.
Disadvantages: This can be tricky to set up and requires a regular download from your practice management system.
Social media requests
Putting a post on the practice social media pages asking for reviews and giving the link.
Advantages: You reach a lot of clients quickly, and they can navigate directly to the portal.
Disadvantages: You only reach those on social media, who aren’t necessarily representative of your whole client base.
Best of all worlds
Use a combination of the above methods! That way you can maximise the number of reviews you get. We also find that “success breeds success”, and people seem to be more willing to leave reviews if there are a few there already, so we usually recommend you start with a blanket email (we can set this up and run it for you), then follow up with other methods as well. And of course, the more channels you use to contact people, the more the message gets reinforced.
Want more advice? Get in touch and talk to us about all the options!