Social or more likely, unsocial media.
In our fast-paced digital world, we expect immediate answers, prompt attention, and personable client services. In the veterinary field, add the component of anxiousness and worry, and our clients become venomous. No longer will our clients come to us directly to lodge a complaint – they go to social media to do so. Relatively new to this, when you find yourself the target of a “am I right or am I wrong vent” – even if not named directly, you feel personally attacked. Of course, you can not defend yourself directly which often just fuels everyone’s heated opinions, so you try to tackle it head on with the disgruntled client. But the damage has been done.
What are reasonable wait times in my field? I know a client feels upset if they wait more than 30 minutes. However, if it is their dog who comes in with the bleeding fractured leg, they are thrilled that we drop everything to attend to it. When an emotional euthanasia takes up a bit more time than intended, it would appear poorly if the vet said, “Sorry, gotta go. You are taking up too much of my time and I am behind with the next client.”. I do make a point of apologizing if I am running behind – but it is my front staff who receive the “dagger” looks as if they are personally responsible for our tardiness. Booking is always a challenge in a vet clinic. If you give too much time, and a client cancels, you suddenly find that you are paying for 2 receptionists, 2 technicians, one veterinarian and one assistant technician – and not receiving any revenue. It is a tough business to judge.
Then there are the acceptable turnaround times for results. When compared to the human industry, we “rock”. How often are you called by a doctor or a nurse with your blood/urine or any test results? If lucky enough, you get a call from the receptionist to tell you need an “appointment” with the doctor to “discuss” results which leads to sleepless nights about the meaning of this. When finally meeting the doctor, we are more often than not told all is ok, and that is all.
So it comes down to expectations. If our expectations are not met, we comfortably go to Facebook and “vent” to our friends, never realizing that your friends are my friends, that your comments are quickly forwarded to me.
Now here is the funny part. As veterinarians, we are not allowed to have anyone make positive remarks about our clinic. Negative comments are fine, but not positive comments. Believe it or not, if someone posts a testimonial about the good work we do or have done, we have to remove it. So recently, while away and having put out a recent “nasty” comment, one of the veterinary dialogs end up commenting on an “ad” on Varage Sale saying to come to the Best Friends low cost spay/neuter clinic. The venomous comments started coming in fast and furious – saying that I had placed the ad there, that this was illegal competition, that the Order (of veterinarians) needed to be contacted, that I need to be closed down.
To add insult to injury, I had forwarded the Best Friends number to my cell (which is the Timberlea vet clinic line) so when one of my colleagues “investigated” they got the message about the help line. The assumption was this was some plot to bring new business to our clinic! When I read the ad, I had one of those sinking moments where you feel your life is spiralling out of control. I am barely Facebook-literate, rarely use Kijiji and have no idea how to navigate around the million of ads on Varage Sale. So I wake up my staff and ask if they have placed the ad. Some had made comments on their Facebook pages, which I ask them to remove.
I contact an administrator of the St. Lazare Varage Sale site, who happens to be a client. Fortunately, she knows how these systems work, and finds out the ads are on the West Island, St. Laurent and Lachine sites. She tracks down the person who put the ad up. Of course, I am not a member, so in order to reach the person I have to “join” which I do. In the meanwhile, I contact the administrators and ask them to contact the person to remove the “ad” they placed advertising my clinic.
I want to scream. I am on holiday, I am celebrating my wedding anniversary, and I am spending the whole evening dealing with this on the internet. The next day I call my professional corporation – Ordre des Medecins veterinaires de Quebec, and explain the situation. They are very understanding and tell me as long as I have made efforts to remove the offensive “recommendation” that no further action will be taken. In fact, that I am not responsible as long as I have not “asked” anyone to post recommendations. This sounds reasonable, as how can one person check everyone’s comments?
Back to the internet, 2 of the adminstrators remove the ad immediately, but the 3rd one asks for proof that it is not allowed based on our professional body. When I finally am accepted as a member, and contact the perpetrator directly, she removes part of the ad, for some reason feeling it is her right to post whatever she wants about my business- THIS IS NOT HELPING ME! IF ANYTHING, IT IS A SURE WAY TO GET MY LOW COST CLINIC CLOSED DOWN!
Back to my “syndic” asking for a link to show the administrator that it is against our rules. Telephone tag, receive it 2 days later, and hopefully all will be resolved.
In the meanwhile, my colleague “investigators” find another ad on “kijiji” talking about the clinic which used to operate out of Vanier college, 7 years ago. So I have to get on the internet and contact another person to have this ad removed, which was placed by another satisfied client over 15 years ago! Crikey.
Morale of the story: I am gaining a huge dislike of Unsocial Media! So much so, that I plan to instigate a “do not comment about us on social media. If you do, we reserve the right to remove you as a client” policy.
What has the world come to?