Should You Really Care About Online Reviews?

By Stacee Santi, DVM

The answer is no.

Recently my classmate and colleague, Dr. Ben Hufnagel had to come by my house to evaluate our acutely lame horse. (For what it’s worth, I can hit a vein on a 3-day old kitten but not so much on a huge horse. When things are serious with any of the large animals, I always call in the pro, Dr. Ben.) With both of us now having well over 20 years of clinical experience under our belts, we struck up a conversation on a pretty hot topic, online reviews. We both had stories of unfavorable reviews left by ignorant pet owners that didn’t listen, got the facts wrong or mistook our service for charity. We laughed and joked about these rude insensitive jerks on the planet that we didn’t even like in the first place.

And then during our conversation, we realized we both had evolved to the same viewpoint about online reviews.

Should a vet really care about a negative online review? Nope, you should not.

In the early years, yes we cared a lot, too much in fact to where one bad review might send us spiraling for days questioning our value and rattling our budding confidence. Let’s be serious, being a veterinarian isn’t for sissies. Most people think the hardest part about being a veterinarian is euthanizing your favorite patient but that always comes in second to dealing with the general public.

Here are 3 factors that you consider the next time you read a negative online review about yourself.

Is it true?

After you cool down, read the review again and try to ascertain if there is ANY truth to what they are saying. If the answer is no, then you are done! Seriously, forget about it. Because here is the reality, these aren’t your people. I am a firm believer that when we align on core values with a client, magic happens and you are able to actually enjoy your job by fulfilling your life purpose of helping animals.

For example, if the only time you brought your outdoor dog to my practice is every 3 years for the Rabies shot only, I’m not your girl. I never will be. You accidentally chose the wrong provider and this isn’t going to end well for either of us when I point out the grade 10 dental disease. It’s important to recognize these situations and figure out how to do LESS of this and MORE of what you want with your clients that share your core values.

Do you even like this person?

Try this exercise: Pretend you are writing an online review about them…what would you say? Chances are they aren’t so great after all making it even more important to realize they aren’t worth your time and who really cares about what they think. Move on! There are better people to worry about out there.

Are you being a tad narcissistic?

We all deeply desire to be liked and I have found that most people that go into veterinary medicine aren’t that comfortable and confident around people in the first place. That’s why they chose animals. Having anyone not like me is a hard pill to swallow, especially in the early days when my confidence as a veterinarian was just emerging. But is that realistic? I certainly don’t like everyone so why should I think everyone should like me? I spent way too much time worrying about if clients I hardly knew thought I was smart enough, experienced enough, or good enough. With time comes the ability to care less about the desire to be liked by everyone and leave the narcissism behind.

Are you getting home for dinner on time?

If the answer is no, then this means you have plenty of happy clients who are much more deserving of your time and energy. Every minute you devote to dwelling over a negative review is another minute you are not helping an animal that needs you with a pet owner that loves you.

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