Man swimmer swimming crawl in blue water. Portrait of an athletic young male triathlete swimming crawl wearing a pink cap and swimming goggles while. Triathlete training for triathlon.

Ryan Lochte’s alleged robbery, probably the most bizarre story of the Rio Olympics, shows how quickly a stellar reputation can sink and lead to financial ruin.

Lochte has (or had) multi-million dollar contracts that may now be down the drain, all due to bad press.

As a veterinarian, or other professional, your most valuable assets are your knowledge, skills and reputation. In this digital world, the reality is reputation may make a bigger splash in attracting and keeping client than your years of experience.

One bad review online by a disgruntled customer (or possibly a competitor posing as a customer) can cost your practice and your bottom line thousands a year.

How can you protect your online reputation? One of the easiest ways to monitor what’s being said about you online is to set up a Google News personalization tab. It’s free and you can see on a daily basis if you or your practice name has been used online. There also are online reputation management services, such, that can more closely monitor your online presence and report any negative postings.

Inc. Magazine has an excellent article on how to manage your online reputation and what to do with negative reviews. In summary, it says to respond to every negative review offering to resolve the issue offline with the person.

Research by Arizona State University Carey School of Business shows that disgruntled customers receiving compensation have a 38% satisfaction rating, but by adding a sincere apology that rating goes to 74%.

Obviously, this means ongoing customer service training for your team is critical, as well as the need to monitor what’s being said about you online. To keep your reputation golden, a little effort now can save your bottom line from taking a dive due to online complaints.