Today's Veterinary Business

AUG 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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57 August/September 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM Most times, the first person a pet owner sees is your receptionist, the person who will communicate expectations. Here are four things a receptionist — and all staff mem- bers — need to keep in mind to effectively manage expectations: Be Clear and Detailed I took my rescue basset hound, Thurston Howl III, to his veteri- narian's office. The receptionist knew who we were and greeted us immediately. The waiting room was clean and quiet, and it conveyed a feeling of quality and competence. I was invited to take a seat and was told that someone would be with me shortly. I did so. And I wait- ed. After five minutes, I thought to myself, "I wonder what 'shortly' means to the receptionist." Contrast that experience with this phone call I received from my physician's receptionist: "Ms. Klein? Dr. Frank is running about 20 minutes behind due to an emergency. We respect your time and wanted to offer you the opportunity to reschedule if you needed to." Wow! I knew exactly how late my physician would be and I had the opportunity to decide whether to reschedule. During my visit to the veteri- narian, the simple act of adding a time frame to the wait would have alleviated any concerns that my schedule was about to be thrown off. If I knew the wait was going to be less than five minutes, I was fine. If I had been told upfront that Thur- ston would be seen in 10 minutes, I may have chosen to walk him outside or contemplated whether I would still have time to meet my client immediately afterward. We all perceive and interpret vague terms differently — "shortly," The ability to set and manage client expectations can turn a visit to your veterinary practice from mediocre to outstanding. Establishing those expectations early, often and in detail can prevent misunderstandings and keep small issues from compounding into a less-than-stellar time for the pet owner. By Jennifer Klein, MBA, LVT Clients are turned off by waiting room delays, so keep pet owners informed, sometimes before they arrive. A cool reception 1 2 "quickly," "in a while," "expensive," "cheap." Our point of reference may change daily or hourly, but we avoid any unintended misunderstandings if we can define those terms. Check for Alignment Communicating expecta- tions frequently and in a detailed way is a good start, but if the client has something else in mind and your receptionist doesn't uncover it, a disconnect may occur between the experience you are striving for and the one that becomes reality. Very simply, asking the client whether she is fine with what was just communicated is a great way to ensure that everyone is in harmony. Continued on Page 59 Leadership CLIENT SERVICE

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