This post comes to us from the incredible Dr. Jessica Vogelsang.
Do you ever have one of those days where you feel like an exposed, raw nerve where every little breath of air seems to set your teeth on fire?
Maybe it’s not just a day. Maybe you’re having one of those weeks. Or months. 2020 has been rough, to say the least, and it seems like veterinary teams have had the double whammy of ever-rising client expectations coupled with ever fewer resources at your clinic to get it done. All of this covered with the shroud of a global pandemic, and it’s only normal that moods are testy.
I can see why some people’s reaction to advice like, “Hey, have you thought about virtual care?” or “How can you make the client experience more enjoyable?” might be met with a proverbial kick in the booty. So first things first: anyone who steps into a clinic day after day in the current environment is a hero, full stop. Veterinary medicine has never been an emotionally sterile place, to begin with, especially during the stress of the holidays, and now we’re dialed to 11.
For anyone who’s in survival mode right now, you’re doing great. Seriously. It’s hard to appreciate when you’re in the thick of it and dealing with nothing but stressed people, but in the great outside world of owners, they are still so happy that you are there and appreciate how hard it is to do what you do. Those great clients have your back.
The people who work in clinic support, your vendors and consultants and reps, are both in awe of what you’re doing and feeling a little helpless that they can’t do more to make it better. Those people also have your back.
We’re listening to what you say, about how the phones are ringing off the hook and you’re booked out for weeks, and you’ve been looking for staff for months, and those profession-wide challenges are something we all need to work on together to rebuild a profession that doesn’t leave scorched earth in its wake. But…now isn’t the best time to have that conversation for most people.
In the meantime, you have to get through December. So why not give yourself a gift? Just one thing that will make your life easier in December (and maybe beyond.) My suggestion? Ban reading reviews for a month.
I know, I know, conventional wisdom dictates a robust response to every review, but here’s a little secret: the average clinic has a 4.6 rating across various review platforms, a number that hasn’t budged since the inception of reviews. Nor has it budged since the beginning of curbside. Reviews in the vet space are strangely stable, even with the occasional one-star- which is both normal and expected these days.
What are the odds one bad review will sink your business? I can’t say 0 because anything is possible, but let’s say that 15 paragraph all-caps rant will not impact either you or the person who wrote it think it might. The odds that it will make your blood pressure go through the roof? 95% plus, which is an unscientific estimate but seems about right.
The number one outcome of a bad review is not to drive people away (especially when you have plenty of other good reviews to balance it out). It’s to upset you and take away your holiday cheer. It loses that power if you don’t see it. After years of seeing the same situations play out over and over, I firmly believe doctors shouldn’t have to deal with their own reviews. They don’t on the human side, so why do we feel like we need to handle them personally? It’s just too mentally draining.
Now, I’m not saying you have to ignore reviews entirely or let massive falsehoods stand. Have your most dispassionate person be the designated review wrangler. With the infrequent exception of someone trying to whip up a horde to bombard you with bad reviews, you can train anyone to handle them without having to come to the doctor whose good name was just dragged. It’s not necessary. It’s a virtual slam book.
You are doing great in an unprecedented time. We’re told time and time again that people take those long, mean, ten-paragraph-yet-somehow-still-one-sentence rants with a massive grain of salt, so let that be one less thing to suck up your O2 this December. That’s what Santa’s naughty list is for.