The client sitting in your waiting area is talking on her PDA. Here's what she's saying:
5:15 p.m. Picking up Fluffy from the vet
5:30 p.m. Still waiting to pick up Fluffy
5:40 p.m. OMG I’ve been here forever. Is someone going to help me?
6:00 p.m. OK. Never coming back to ABC Pet Clinic. Service is slow and it stinks.
Even if your practice doesn't have its own Twitter account, odds are good you're being discussed via the online social network. Clients can—and do—instantly share their comments about your practice with the world. The example above illustrates that not all of clients' Tweets—another word for personal updates—are positive.
Sure, these comments aren't catastrophically damaging to your practice's reputation, but you never know when they will be. Take the cases of Comcast and Domino's Pizza. Both companies suffered from a negative Twitter firestorm about their client service. And both companies now use Twitter as a way to treat customers better.
Consider taking a cue from these big guns and using social media networks, including Twitter, as a way to boost your client service. According to a recent New York Times article , Twitter can be a useful tool for problem-solving and gaining insight into your clients' minds. How? Tweeting about your practice's new services, specials or seasonal promotion, and useful pet health articles shows clients you care. Plus, the Tweets give pet owners an insider feel that could strengthen their bonds with your practice. (See Firstline's insider Tweets by visiting Twitter's site  and searching for FirstlineMag.)
And, in the unlikely event that a negative review of your practice catches on, you'll be more likely to know about it. Then you can do what's necessary to manage the damage.