Hands typing on laptop(This article was originally posted on September 22, 2014, and has been updated with even more great information!) 
When it comes to attracting new clients, not having any online reviews can be just as harmful – if not more so – than having some negative reviews.

Here’s why:

80% of respondents to a survey conducted by GO Digital Marketing said they are more likely to purchase products or services in-store if there are positive reviews on the company’s website, mobile site, or Facebook page.
A 2014 BrightLocal survey found that:

  • 88% of Internet users read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business.
  • 72% said positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
  • 88% said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 57% of consumers visit a local business website after reading online reviews, and another 15% call the business.

A survey by Dimensional Research, sponsored by Zendesk, found that:

  • 88% of Internet users have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a purchase decision.
  • More people report specifically reading positive reviews (69%) than negative ones (63%).

Responding to Online Reviews

Online reviews also serve another important purpose: they’re an opportunity for your clients to speak to you. While it’s obviously preferable that your customers reach out to you personally with complaints (and you can encourage this with automated client satisfaction surveys), research has shown that 70% of people who post negative online reviews write those complaints because they are hoping to receive a response from the business. That’s right –  they’re posting because they want to hear back from you.
This makes monitoring and responding to your online reviews essential. By catching those negative reviews early, you can respond to them quickly and take the opportunity to turn a bad experience into a good one – and get that pesky review removed or even updated with a happy ending! It’s never fun to get a negative online review, but in many cases, it’s also an opportunity to respond to a bad experience and turn it into a better one.

So how do you get online reviews for your veterinary practice? ASK!

Emarketer reported that, when left to their own devices, people are more likely to comment on a social network (44%) than to actually post an online review (38%), but if they are asked outright, over half of social network users will post a review or give a testimonial.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to claim your Google My Business listing, your Yelp Business page, and enlist the help of your Brand Advocates to get the ball rolling. Don’t forget to post some of those testimonials on your website!

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