How to Deal With Negative Reviews as A Vet Practice

Written By:
Veterinary Practice
January 10, 2023
Has your vet practice ever experienced getting a 1-star review? How did you handle it? Find out how you should be handling negative reviews so you get more clients instead of less.

Whenever you ask another person for a recommendation, you usually go with the one they have had a good experience with, right? That's human nature. When somebody says "Hey, I had a really bad time with this ice cream parlor" then you probably would get your ice cream somewhere else.

In the Internet world, it's pretty much the same. People seek out other people's experiences to make decisions. One way they do this is to look for online reviews.

The Feared 1-Star Review

One star does happen!

Your marketing efforts have done a great job of getting the word out about your veterinary practice. In fact, it seems like new clients are always coming in and making the doorbell ring.

It's not rare to see new customers already singing your praises the moment they enter your practice. This is probably because of your stellar reputation online all thanks to the positive reviews you get.

All of a sudden, a one-star review pops up among all of the four and five-star reviews. The law of averages doesn't work for most veterinarians or practice owners. One bad review is more important than all of those good ones, even if your average doesn't change much.

How you respond to that bad review could affect how potential clients see your veterinary practice and how many more bad reviews you get.

So, here are some tips to help you deal with negative online reviews (should you ever need them):

Dealing With A Negative Review as A Vet Practice

1. Take a step back

When you get a bad review, the first thing you should do is take a moment to calm down. Believe me, it will probably set you back a little, especially if you're used to reading only good reviews on your review page. You need to calm down before you can decide when and how to respond to this negative comment.

Give yourself some time to get over the initial shock and anger so you're in a better mood and can deal with this client's complaints in a calm way.

Even though it's important to respond to reviews as soon as possible, a short delay will be worth it if it gives you time to calm down and respond like you're not up against a wall.

2. Respond in public, then ask to meet in person

Once you have calmed down, you should respond to that negative review right there on the site where it was posted. Tell the reviewer you're sorry that their experience wasn't as good as they would have liked.

Ask that reviewer to get in touch with you privately as soon as they can. If possible, give them your contact information and the name of a specific practice representative. Then you wait and keep your fingers crossed that they will call you back.

The reason for taking negative reviews offline is easy to understand. Trying to fix everything in one email can often make things worse instead of better.

Even if you never hear from this person again, you have shown other potential clients that you care about your clients' experiences when they use your veterinary services and that you want to look into their case in more detail to make things right.

3. Keep in mind that "the customer is always right."

If that reviewer sends you a private message, it's time to make peace.

Even if you think the client is wrong, remember that in service businesses, "the client is always right" and that your reputation is everything, so protect it!

Apologize to the client for their bad experience, address their concerns in a calm way, and offer to solve their problem. Depending on the situation, you may want to explain practice policies or procedures that may have led to this experience.

Most of the time, an apology, explanation, or solution to the original problem is enough to make a client happy. Not always though.

Even if you think the client is wrong, you should remain calm and professional and let them know they are being heard. As long as you try to solve problems and show that you want to, most clients will be grateful and feel well taken care of.

4. Give something away for free

There will always be "difficult" reviewers who aren't happy, no matter how much you apologize and try to fix their problems.

Some people will even keep leaving negative review after negative review on different sites to show how angry they are.

Even though you might not want to do this for every unhappy customer, giving them a free product or service is a great way to say "sorry" and show that you take their complaint seriously.

Whether it's a discount on their next vaccination or a free toy for their pet, doing something nice for someone can go a long way toward turning them into a loyal supporter. Who knows, they might even tell their friends and family about your business, which would give you a huge return on your "free" investment.

5. Read the review again

Most of the time, if you talk to these people directly, you can make them happy and maybe even get them to remove the review. And if you want to, you might even be able to keep them as a client.

Even if they don't take down the negative review, you can go back and let other readers know that a deal has been made with this client and the seas are once again calm.

In a perfect world, this is how every interaction would go, but let's be real. There won't be a good conversation or an agreement all the time. Instead, it's possible that a client who is already upset will stay upset and take their business elsewhere.

You can either leave the review as it is or go back to it and add more information about what happened.

I'm not saying to give a full explanation. Instead, give a short explanation of what went wrong, again without assigning blame. You can say how you feel about not being able to get along as long as you keep it professional.

Why Are Online Reviews Important?

Online reviews are incredibly important for businesses, and especially for vet practices. With the rise of digital services, customers now have more access to information than ever before when it comes to making a purchase decision. According to survey results, around 84% of customers will read online reviews for local businesses during their purchase process.

This means that potential customers are looking to other people’s opinions before deciding whether or not to visit a vet practice. Reviews are hugely influential at this stage, and it’s important for businesses to respond accordingly.

Good reviews can help generate more business and make your practice more visible online. On the other hand, negative reviews can harm your reputation and drive customers away. That’s why it’s important to take a proactive approach when it comes to managing online reviews for your vet practice. A few simple steps can help you protect and even improve your online reputation. Start by responding constructively to both positive and negative reviews, and then look into ways of generating more customer feedback in the future.

By taking the time to manage your online reviews, you can make sure that potential customers are getting an accurate picture of your vet practice and its services. In turn, this can help you build trust and loyalty among existing clients as well as attract new ones. So don’t wait - start building an online reputation today!


Online reviews are an important part of any vet practice's online presence, and it's important to stay on top of them. Take the time to respond constructively to both positive and negative reviews, and look for ways to generate more customer feedback in the future. With a little work, you can ensure that potential customers get an accurate picture of your vet practice and its services, helping you build trust and loyalty among existing clients as well as attract new ones.

If you are currently facing issues with your online reputation and need help managing reviews online, Veterinary Marketing is ready to help out. Contact us today and let us know how we can be of help to you and your business.

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