Today's Veterinary Business

OCT 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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36 Today's Veterinary Business Communication A significant part of the plan- ning involves establishing that you have a client-focused veterinary practice. This doesn't mean follow- ing the motto "The client is always right." Rather, it means reminding the team that one primary busi- ness goal is to always make sure the client feels cared about. Pet owners can be quite forgiving when mistakes are made if the veterinary team is compassionate and competent. Even when service standards and protocols are in place, mistakes are inevitable. In these instances, team members need to know how to respond. Your team will be successful if it follows this three- step process: Notice something, say something, do something. Pay Attention One way to help teams respond effectively to service errors is to train employees to pay atten- tion to clients and anticipate their needs. Observant teams better un- derstand a pet owner's preferences so that service can be tailored to exceed expectations. Moreover, team mem- bers are more likely to respond quickly when a service lapse occurs — and before dissat- isfaction is verbalized — because they pick up on early cues that a client is unhappy. To cater to the needs of different pet owners, think of what they value in the client service experience. For example, one client might value efficiency over all other aspects of service. For this client, employees should keep the conversation short and focused. They should keep the client updated on wait times and always set realistic expectations. Another pet owner might tend to be anxious and slow to decide. This client needs reassurances and might require that the value of a service be explained three times. Alert team mem- bers learn to pay attention to a client's non-verbal communica- tion. Feelings of anger, frustration, impatience, sadness, nervousness and fear will almost always be evident in a person's facial ex- pressions and body language. Make sure to respond to these non-verbal signals so the client knows that the team cares. Asking questions to clarify the pet owner's feelings or concerns might be necessary. Choose Your Words Carefully Knowing what to say and how to say it when something goes wrong is an invaluable skill that anyone can Something occasionally goes wrong at any business, but how employees respond to the situation can make the difference between losing and retaining a client. With planning and training, you can create a team that knows how to make things right when things go wrong. Communication TALK THE TALK By Amanda L. Donnelly, DVM, MBA learn. Make sure employees under- stand the difference between an apology and an empathy statement. Apologies should be offered if the hospital made a mistake. An example might be "I apologize that we neglected to send home Sophie's blanket and treats with her." On the other hand, an empa- thy statement conveys compas- sion and understanding without assigning fault. For example, you might say, "I don't have Jake's appointment on our schedule. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience and breakdown in communication." In many instances, an apology and an empathy statement are appropriately used together. An example would be if a doctor didn't call a client as promised because she was called to an emergency. In this instance, a team member can say, "I'm so sorry Dr. Smith hasn't called you back. The reason is that she is with an emergency — a patient was hit by a car." In addition, make sure team members know how to deliver the message. When conveying an apology or empathy statement, body language and sincerity are 1 2 Care repair When client service falls short, remember the expression "Notice something, say something, do something." The concept is that people form opinions based on whether they think a service provider cares and has gone above and beyond to help them.

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