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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Social Media Monster

Hi guys! I am a hypocrite.

I am writing this to (mostly) complain about social media. Then, I will post it ... on social media.

It's pretty self-evident that as a service provider, social media is quite the mixed blessing for my practice. I am certain that the same can be said by any person or business in the public eye. When people share their great experiences at our practice (or we share something positive about our practice), it's really gratifying to know that we did well. It's even better to think that someone who might be looking for a veterinarian could see that post and seek us out.

I also enjoy the opportunity that social media gives us to share our celebrations (Dr. Gammon had her baby!), accomplishments (congrats to Dr. Randla on completing his "Cat-Friendly" certification), and helpful information (here's what you need to know about Canine Flu). It is also a great place to recognize special organizations and promote their needs (Partners 4 Pets needs help paying for "Arrow's" surgery), and highlight our patients ("Peanut" turned 20 today!)

But of course social media is a fickle friend. If someone is not happy with their experience here, they have a public platform on which to share how rude/incompetent/greedy etc... they perceive us to be. Fortunately, that doesn't happen often, but when it does, it is obviously very hurtful to all of us.

I will be the first to admit that we don't always get it right. Like everyone else, we sometimes make a mistake. I have always felt that the best way to judge any business is their willingness to "make right" their mistakes. We take a great deal of pride in our willingness to do that. But I admit that I miss the "old days" when people who were unhappy would call or come in to the office with their complaint. These grievances were (and still are) taken very seriously, and usually rectified, to the best of our ability, by myself or our Practice Manager.

You see, most complaints we get originate from some misunderstanding. We preach and teach communication skills to all our staff because of this. If we get a chance to hear why the client is unhappy, we can often correct the misunderstanding, apologize for our part in it, and make it right. This process cannot happen on social media. Not even close. And of course, now all of that person's "followers" have heard only one side of the story. Ugh.

As a greybeard, I have had many veterinarian friends complain to me about the social media "monster." I usually tell them that we all have to take the bad with the good. But I do wonder why, if someone truly wants a solution to some problem that we have caused, they don't pick up the phone and give me a call?